Friday, September 30, 2011

Crowded car

Today's random traffic sighting:
Crowded public conveyance? No worries--you don't need to be inside the vehicle.

Out of place

I was out looking for buildings, architecture and history, right? But I couldn't help but notice a few of the other unusual sights.

For instance: turkeys. Why were there turkeys at the Jama Masjid? How did they get there?

Horses drinking out of bathtubs, that is not something you see every day. I really wanted a better picture of this street lined with thirsty horses and their bathtubs--but I was in a moving vehicle.

Crows are not unusual, nor are they out of place around here.
But these particular crows caught my attention because they were lined up watching the world go by.
Perched on a fence, they have a prime view as all the unusual and usual chaos passes before them.
I'm just a little bit envious.

Inside the masjid

In the late afternoon sun, sandstone is scorching. But that doesn't mean you don't have to remove your shoes to enter the Jama Masjid.

The biggest mosque in Delhi.
In India.
Maybe even South Asia.
This is a Friday and the crowds are coming, if there were thousands outside, soon they will be inside.

But for a time, it was just a place to relax in the setting sun and watch the children play.

Thousands of people

Out side the Jama Masjid is teeming with people. Shoppers. Worshippers. Pray-ers. Sellers. Beggars. Cyclers. Sitters. Standers. Loiterers.
Hundreds--thousands--in a rather small area.

For this small-town girl new to India and Delhi, the Jama Masjid was one of my first and most overwhelming stops.
I remember thinking (yes, as incoherently as it sounds): "People, there are so many people. Stop touching me. They are drinking that water! Everyone is looking at me. He has no arm. I need to sit down."

The masjid holds 25,000. This many people could easily be found in the surrounding streets and alleyways.

That's my hometown multiplied by six.

Which do you prefer

Rose or lemon?

Work in progress

The architecture at Jantar Mantar is just as wild as usual.

But right now there is work in progress to keep the monument restoration in repair.

Much of it is being done by this brick carrying lady.

Brick carrying ladies fascinate me.


When I showed up at India Gate this morning, there was a military drll in progress. I missed its significance, what they were practicing for:
flag raising?
honoring of a military leader?

For only my second visit to this famous city landmark, it was something new and interesting to see.

One of the little observations I liked the most was that there was a Commander (the one in the turban) making sure the hand placement of the bugle players was adjusted just so.
Apparently very important.

What's new at Humayan's

Wondering what's new at Humanyan's tomb since the last time I was there?

Well not this lady, she's been here gardening forever.
She told me I could take her picture if I gave her a good tip.
Though she had no intention of smiling.

There was new restoration in progress.
Painting and chiseling of things, making that chink chink chink sound of metal on stone which causes me think of elves.

And the last "new" thing to see there was this funny group of school kids on a field trip. Part of what they got to see on their outing was a couple of foreigners who obligingly shook hands and practiced English with every one of them who dared to be so brave.
One of them also told the gardening aunty that her flowers looked nice. I thought that very generous him.

Photo exchange

These kids followed us around with their camera phone.

So I posed and said, "You take my picture, and I'll take yours."

We exchanged poses and snaps.

Maybe you can search the internet and come up with what they took with their phone.

For the meat eaters

This is for those who love meat.

Holy ground

To get to the entrance of Nizamuddin darga, you follow a long, winding, alleyway path.
Along the way there are flower sellers waiting to sell you strings of flowers to place at the shrine when you say your prayers.

They are also waiting to get you about your shoes.

Your shoes have to be removed to enter the holy area of the darga. But just where the ground becomes "holy" is rather ambiguous.

I knew the first "warning" was not the place to remove shoes. I could watch the locals passing by with their shoes still on.
But these flower selling men were insistent: "No shoes! No charge, no money! No shoes!" They kept pointing at my feet.
While I was also insisting it wasn't time yet to remove my shoes, I was weakened by the excess attention.

Like I said, they'll get you about your shoes.
They must think it's funny to make the unsuspecting, naive visitors walk through the filthy alleys with no shoes on.

When I got to the real shoe removal place, the man automatically said, "Shoes remove." I gestured to my bare feet, and he laughed.

The shoes were still there when we returned. The flower seller had kept his word, he didn't charge us for making sure they didn't get taken by one of these guys...

Knife sharpener

Does sandstone work to sharpen knives?

'Cause this guy was still doing the same thing when I passed by again 45 minutes later.
And that knife has got to be sharp: he's the chicken butcher.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Window cleaners

This is the top of the Hindustan Times building. It must be around 25 stories high.
These guys are out there touching up paint and cleaning windows for the Hindustan Times executives to be able to look out upon the view of Delhi.

Please note their safety gear and the special safety precautions taken.
That's right: there is nothing to notice.
No shoes, no hard-hats, no pulleys or elaborate rope systems, no scaffolding.
No guardrails.
Just a man, a board, a bucket, and a heavy helping of fearlessness suspended at the end of a rope far above concrete.

Yes "ow" is how it will be should something go wrong.

Now ask yourself just how much you like your job.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Where the dhobis are

In the shadow of the high rise office buildings,
around a corner,

across from the barber,
there it is: a dhobi ghat (the link is a fun photo essay of a dhobi ghat in Mumbai).

Dozens of washtubs and wash men cleaning clothes which fill the street to dry.

Today, it seems, was a load of whites.

Its a far, far world away from an industrial laundromat.
Or even a home washer-dryer set.
But it's every day reality for centuries of dhobis.

Fading Anna

On this moldy wall, someone's expressed support of Anna Hazare is slowly fading away.
It made me wonder what is left of his campaign that made such noise last month.

He's still out there making speeches and other demands. But there's much less noise about it.

In looking for current news about Hazare, I found an article about another anti-corruption hunger-striker and noted that they published the strategy. It emphasized what is annoying to me about the "hunger strike unto death": No one is serious about dying.
“If you go on a hunger strike till death it has to be a very specific issue,” Ahsan said. “The objective is very laudable, but you are not going to achieve it in the 45 to 50 days that you can survive on a hunger strike.”
I'm not convinced that much gets done through hunger strike.

I'm still waiting to see what impact Anna has.
Wondering if he soon fades away with the graffiti.

Someone who makes a lot of sense about the roots of corruption is Vishal Mangalwadi.
Here is some of what he had to say about it:
"[There is] no regard for personal dignity and no respect for honest hard work. Merit is irrelevant in the culture of corruption, only appeasement matters.”
"He [Anna Hazare] is indeed following our great men and the gods that our sages created. They crafted our myths and legends – our folk literature – in their self-interest."
"In order to eradicate corruption, we need a different Messiah: one who would not extract his ‘pound of flesh’ but sacrifice himself for our salvation. We need a Savior who is a shepherd, who would redefine our cultural idea of leadership as servanthood."
It is possible to get rid of corrupt officials and jail corrupt ministers, but the challenge is to change a culture.

Coffee board

In a busy business district of the city, across the street from the corn-roasting lady is a coffee stall.
Much more common here is the tea stall, so I don't know if I've ever seen a coffee place like this.

In the back it had a man sitting on a bucket chopping onions, and on the side the stall had an interesting little sign that said, "Coffees of India, Coffee board".

So I looked it up and found some interesting information on the Coffee board.
It seems they boast of "75 glorious years of coffee research".
"The Board also encourages the consumption of coffee in India and abroad". Perhaps this stall is one of their "coffee-centric food and beverage exhibitions".

I don't know a lot about coffee because I do not have the coffee gene, but maybe some of you who do should check it out.