We ended up back in Delhi with two full days to sightsee, hang out, and absorb the capital as more seasoned travelers in India than three-and-a-half weeks ago. It was a smart move, because this time, we really enjoyed it.
We started off with the Salaam Baalak Trust street walk in the morning. It is a street walk done by former street children of Delhi, who tell you about their stories of surviving on the streets, what it’s like for street kids, and how the Salaam Baalak Trust has helped them and continues to help other kids everyday. We’ve seen the slums of India first hand on our train journeys, as a lot of the ragged tents and straw huts are built near train tracks, so it was especially nice for us to see the other side of the story on how poverty is being turned around.
The kids from Salaam Baalak Trust in class learning English
After the walk, a surprise crept up on us, literally. The guides chased us down, along with the camera crew from BBC World News, and we got interviewed for our thoughts on the foundation! Totally random, and who knows, maybe we will see it some day.
Alex getting the paparazzi treatment. Notice the two randoms on the left hand side just hanging out, gawking
We continued on to the Qutb Minar, which Alex had much difficulty pronouncing due to the lack of vowels. There, we found out it was World Heritage Day, and admission was free, even for foreigners! We wandered around the site, with Alex focusing on the audio guide tour (as usual), and me hanging around, hiding from Indian people trying to take pictures of me with their cameras and phones. (The whole gawking/people taking pictures of me thing deserves a whole other post, full of ranting.)
The Qutb Minar – world’s tallest minaret
We met up with a local Delhite, a friend of Alex from high school, for dinner. Anu took us to the amazing Bukhara in the ITC Maurya hotel, where we feasted on meat for the first time in India. It was a lovely meal, and I’m glad to say we at least tried something fancy on our super-budget trip!!
The next day Alex and I ventured out sans camera to enjoy our last day, and because some sights didn’t allow cameras anyway. We went to what is now dubbed as “Hindu Disneyland”, the Akshardam. The temple and the buildings and sculptures in the grounds are all beautifully and intricately carved, and it is a massive complex with lots of people pouring in from all corners to pay their respects. The architecture and grounds alone were well worth the visit, and it was free, with donation. We decided to pay a little extra to go through the Exhibitions, and we saw the short film on Neelkanth Darshan, to whom the place is dedicated. Since I’m not particularly religious, I found the storyline a little exaggerated and full of impossible feats, but to each their own, I guess. The more ridiculous exhibit was the boat ride that told the story of the Indian civilization from the beginning. According to the narrator, pi and gravity were both discovered in India 3,000 years before anyone else did, and they were building intricate metal aircrafts and spaceships (I kid you not, the models were there with the wax figures) 3,000 years ago too. Alex and I kept on exchanging really amused glances with each other, holding back giggles so as not to offend fellow passengers on the boat.
From there, we got to Old Delhi and had the honour of a three-hour Old Delhi walking tour, complete with a souvenir, from Mohit whom we met in Jaipur along with Tracy. It was fantastic, and we feasted along the way on lots of different street snacks. Old Delhi has some very old and famous shops, and we walked down a street full of just decorations for weddings. If I had known, I would’ve totally waited to buy my ribbons from there – I didn’t even want to find out how much cheaper they were. The whole street was an amazing sight that, even if I had my camera, I wouldn’t have been able to take a picture to depict just how extensive the collections were. Since we were full from all the delicious street snacks, we took a break to hang out at India Gate a little bit, before having a fab last meal in Delhi late at night – a perfect ending.
All in all, we had two very fun and relaxed days in Delhi, and I can now happily say I truly did enjoy the capital of India :-)