Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Successful Day

asked to take a photo - it's like I'm a celebrity :)

I have finally gotten into a more normal sleep/wake cycle. I went to bed around 10:30pm last night and didn’t wake up until nearly 6am. That is actually perfect for when I start my clinical rotations. Gives me a little time in the morning to check email etc. before getting ready to head off to the hospital. 

Today was my first really great day. I finally feel like my mind and body have adjusted to India and the overwhelmingness that is Delhi. I feel most accomplished because I did all of it on my own - the day planning, figuring out how to get from place to place. It is a good feeling. I will be ready to really explore Delhi on Delhi Round 2 when I return next week after my visit to Jaipur. This morning after getting ready I headed to Crush on Beans Cafe - the cafe I discovered yesterday that has free WiFi as long as you make an order of at least 100 rupees (about $2). There are many places where you can get a meal for less than $1 but for breakfast and WiFi, I’ll splurge! I was able to do my emailing as well as post my blog before heading out for the day. 

India Gate
I walked to the metro station (Ramakrishna Ashram Marg) and took it to Khan Market. It was a beautiful day outside and I enjoyed the walk from the metro stop to the India Gate. The India Gate bears a striking resemblance to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris although it is a bit smaller. The Gate was erected as a memorial for the 90,000 Indian Army soldiers who died in WWI. There is also a smaller memorial below the arch that commemorates those soldiers who died in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971.

I left the India Gate and made my way to the National Gallery of Modern Art. At most of the sights and museums, a different price is charged if you are Indian vs. foreign. According to my guidebook, at this Gallery, Indians pay 10 rupees to enter, foreigners 150 rupees (about $3). I had my student ID with me and got a student rate for the museum - 10 rupees (about $0.20). Pretty good for an art museum. I was really impressed by the collection within the museum. No photography was allowed inside so I am unable to show any of the fine examples of Indian art that was on display mostly from the Company Period (when India was a British colony) to now. It was a beautiful museum and I enjoyed wandering through the collection and getting a sense of Indian culture and history through its art. 

After leaving the National Gallery of Modern Art, I started walking towards the Gandhi Smriti museum (free admission!). On my way to the museum, several autorickshaws stopped to ask if I needed a ride. It was a beautiful day for walking and so I declined. One particularly friendly driver started in on some small talk. He asked me where I was headed and I told him the museum. He insisted that he was headed that direction anyway to meet his friend and would be more than happy to drop me off without payment. I finally relented and even though he did not expect a payment, I paid him anyway. The museum is the home where Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life and is also the site where we was assassinated on 30 January 1948. You could easily spend a day at this museum. Inside the house are numerous displays providing a biography of Gandhi’s life and the struggle of India for its independence from Britain. The museum also shows a documentary on Gandhi’s life and has an interactional multimedia exhibit. Gandhi’s room where he stayed is left as it was while he stayed in that house and all his possessions are in a display case outside his room including his walking stick and glasses. Concrete footsteps lead from his room to the site where he was assassinated marking his final walk on earth. There is also a touching memorial at the spot where he was assassinated. Out of respect, you are required to remove your shoes at this memorial. As I followed the path by his footsteps, I was behind an Indian family. Two of the girls stopped and asked me if they could take a picture with me. As an extremely pale, blond-haired, blue-eyed person, I stand out. This was the second time I had my picture taken by local people - the other time was in Haridwar although that picture was taken without my permission. It doesn’t bother me but it is really strange being so out of the ordinary that people want to take your picture. 
Gandhi Smriti museum

I left the museum and walked to the nearest metro station. I was quite hungry at this point since I had not stopped for lunch and although I planned to head back to the Crush on Beans Cafe, I wanted to have Indian food for dinner and not the Americana food from the cafe. I exited the metro at Rajiv Chowk in Connaught Place and stopped at a restaurant called Embassy that was recommended in Lonely Planet. It was a lovely restaurant and was midrange in terms of pricing but I figured I could treat myself since I have not eaten out all that much. Plus as a successful day in Delhi sightseeing, I felt that it deserved a small celebration. I asked the waiter for his recommendation and ended up ordering Mutton Samosa. It was this delicious combination of minced meat mixed with spices baked inside a scrumptious flaky crust with sides of ketchup or mint sauce for dressing. I ate this with a glass of wine and a 1L bottle of water then followed my dinner with a cup of chai tea. I had all of this for about $12. Inside the restaurant, there were several flatscreen TVs. I am rather fascinated by the Bollywood scene. Indian television appears to have all the same types of channels that we do in the USA including an Indian version of MTV that actually seems to play mostly music videos. The Bollywood clothing is a combination of traditional Indian and a very skimpy hybrid of Indian and Western. The more I see of India, the more fascinated I become with its culture.

Satisfied with my meal, I walked back to the metro station. Rajiv Chowk at 6pm is a complete crazy house. I have never seen a metro so crowded. The other thing is that you have to be really aggressive because people cut in line and shove their way onto the metro. Each train that leaves is literally packed to the max with people. Somewhere between 8-10 trains passed before I was finally shoved into one. Thankfully they run every 1-2 minutes so I didn’t wait all that long, but it was a mad house to get to my stop which happened to be the one after Rajiv Chowk. I exited the metro and headed back to Crush on Beans where in order to use the WiFi I ordered a brownie sundae for dessert. After finishing up my emails, I walked back to my hotel for my last night at Hotel Pahwa International before heading to Jaipur. Namaste.

dinner at Embassy - mutton samosa

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