After our lunch break, AC cool-off time, we headed to the following:
Hawa Mahal: the cities most distinctive landmark, a honeycombed, pink sandstone structure. A five story building constructed in 1799 to enable the ladies of the royal household to watch the life and processions of the city without having to be in it or be seen (sounds very Islamic). The architecture is considered Rajput.
Below picture is the backside or the above. It is the entrance to the “city view” for the women of the court.
At the top – looking out over the city
The main corridors of the Mahal
The small half circle sitting area for the women to look out on the city
The intricate carvings and viewing window
Went to a carpet and ajrak “cloth” making emporium. The men below are using blocks to print the color onto the cloth (black, red, yellow, white, etc). It then is put into a chemical to make the colors fast. 30 years ago they used to use wax – its like batiking.
Rajasthani carpet making. Josh tried his hand at it. Each knot is tied and cut. Three to four people are working on the rug at the same time.
City Palace: is a huge complex of courtyards and buildings. One part of the complex is where the present maharaja actually lives. If he’s in residence, there’s a state flag flying above the residence, which happened to be the case while we were there.
This was a guest house for dignitaries, but is now just a museum.
Note the marble carved railings and intricate detail
Another meeting place – notice the wood door with its inticate metal art workings.
Extravagant chandeliors and decorative work – obviously a womens area
The backside of the “Maharaja’s Palace Residence”. I am surprised we would get so close. Security didn’t seem to be too heavy. This courtyard was very unique. There were 4 doors situated around the courtyard. Each door was colored differently base upon the four seasons: red, yellow, blue, green. They were beautiful and exquisite.
Just an interesting travel shot
The Maharaja’s “Lake Palace”
Dinner at our Driver’s House! Our driver did not speak much English and was quite excited that Tim could speak Hindi. They had long, roving conversations that Tim could catch maybe 80% of. It was both a blessing but also kind of a curse. Playing the ignorant “foreigner/tourist” can sometimes be helpful – not getting into a big discussion or debate. Sometimes, when on the streets, Tim would use English, and then, when we knew we were being scammed, he would turn on the Hindi and get a better price. During the drive, Natalie mentioned that it has been a shame that we have not been able to see what a family life is like. We see what the city life looks like, the businesses, the tourist sites, but have not gotten into a home. Well, while Tim was conversing with the driver, the driver asked us if we could meet his family when we arrived back in Delhi. He really wanted to show his family this American family with a guy who spoke Hindi. We accepted. Tim felt comfortable accepting this invite, having spoken so much with the driver. Natalie was a little worried at first (the protective mother), but decided there would be safety in numbers and the experience was too good to pass up. Plus, the gut feeling was that our driver, Amar, really did want to just share his life with us.
So, we arrived back in Delhi, checked into our hotel by the airport then headed to the opposite end of Delhi into a more “very low end” neighborhood (some would consider it more like a ghetto – not in the bad sense of the word – just economically). The driver apologized that he lived in only one room, but we said that didn’t matter. We were hoping to stay a couple hours because everyone was tired and we had a 5 o’clock wake up to catch our flight to Darjeeling and the Himalayas. We thought once we got there, that we would eat, talk a little, and we would be gone. Well, it turned into a four-hour visit, with us being the center of attraction for the whole neighborhood. Every ten minutes or so, another set of family members would come in to see us, along with kids and mothers from other parts of the community. With nothing to do but sit and smile, the kids handled this very, very well. They really came through like troopers without complaining or putting up a big fuss. The curry and rice were great. They did treat us like royalty. However, it is a little different than what we are used to. Due to the small room, we did not eat together. The family served us first and would eat after we left, so they all stood there watching us eat, which Tim said was normal. Tim brought out the camera and that became a big hit, taking pictures. The entertainment of the evening was to see themselves on the replay. It almost seemed that they had never seen a photo of themselves. The giddiness and laughing that accompanied this was interesting and fun to watch. We promised to send them pictures once we arrived back in the states. It was so great to see another aspect of India – a huge family and neighborhood that was so obviously closely connected. It was also sobering to realize that our driver’s rented home was about the size of our master bathroom. There was one bed that the whole family slept on (he had two kids, aged 8 and 6), and they cooked in the corner on a small burner. All the chopping and preparation for a typical Indian meal, took place squatting on the floor. I’m not sure where the washing up took place. This was one of the highlights of our trip. The pictures that follow are just people pictures, but they take place in a room no bigger than maybe 10x10ft. Traveling through India you constantly see the trash and garbage and wonder what a home would look like. Well, the inner “sanctuary” is often very clean. Everyone was dressed up with bright colors and very clean. The inner “sanctuary” tends to be clean and taken care of. Its a shame that the corporate, group, city cleanliness does not seem to happen. Everyone seemed to enjoy each other and the “event”.