Thursday, September 27, 2012

Banduk and hatiyar

What in the world do you put in a metal box of this size?

Banduk and hatiyar.

That's what the metal-smith told me when I asked.
I understood him to tell me that these boxes were what the police were having made to store their things.
I didnt' know the police needed so many boxes of this size for their rifles and weapons...but apparently it's so.

Jahaz Mahal

The lake that sprang up at Hauz-i-Shamsi was such a nice place that a palace was built there:  Jahaz Mahal, which means "boat palace".
Maybe the royal folks took their boats out on the lake, but it was for sure a nice getaway on a hot Delhi day.
These days it's not a lot more than an old brick building beside a weedy pond.
The garden beside it is a favorite of cricket players.
The guards in the palace--protecting it from vandals, I guess--spend their time yelling at the boys who climb into the moat to retrieve their cricket balls.
There are a few hints as to what might have been palace grandeur 600 years ago--blue tiled chatris, carved red sandstone pillars, echoing arches.
I wanted to go up to the second story and see the view over the lake and neighborhood.
"It's locked, do you have the key?" I asked one of the hovering guards.
"Yes, it's locked.  Yes, I have the key," he replied.
"You have the key?" I asked again.
"Yes," he reached into his pocket to prove it, happy to show me.
"Can we go up the stairs?"
"But this is not allowed," he answered.
We both looked sad at this news.

Again, I have to go back when there are no cricket players around try again.
There are so many places that are not closed off to visitors that it's surprising when a door is actually closed and locked.  And often it's a door I want to open.
Ah irony.
Maybe like this fake arched window, there's really nothing on the other side to see.
But when I'm exploring the ruins of an old palace, I like to see as much as I can for myself.


One day while building his city in south Delhi, Iltutmish had to decide where to dig a well.  The people needed water and he needed a good location.
He went to sleep on it.  As he was sleeping, he dreamed that The Prophet came and showed him where to dig the well.  In the morning, he rushed out to the spot he had seen in his dream and there he found the hoof print of a horse.  The Prophet's horse, he said.

So his men started digging and soon water rushed up, filling the area with enough water to make a lake.
Iltutmish's choice of well location was blessed and there was enough water for the people.

That's the story, anyway.

A pavilion was built in center of the lake to mark the spot where the hoof print was found.

I read that a replica of the rock with the hoof print is still in place.
But when I arrived at the lake--now less than half it's original size--the gate to the pavilion was all locked up and I couldn't get close enough to see.

I want to know if there's really a rock with a hoof print in there.  But there was no one around to let me in.  The gate wasn't even padlocked, it was wired shut.

Maybe some day when the cricket-playing kids are all in school I'll go back and climb over the fence....

Thursday, September 20, 2012


'Pastoral' was the word that came to mind when I stood looking out over this scene.

The idyllic kind of 'pastoral' where you go out into the British country-side and write poetry about how much you enjoy it. 
I didn't write any poetry.

Just some blogging, here.
I do find it ironic, though, that this rare grassy area of Delhi used to be "British country-side".
Or a garden, anyway, that surrounded the Metcalfe house.
Today there's a much different set than British Raj officials milling about.

No shepherds, either.

Just some honest-to-goodness grass cutters.
You'd almost never believe you were in Delhi...

Guest house

The guesthouse near Metcalfe's house is mostly in ruins.  No ceilings left.  Crumbling walls.  Vandalism all over. 

At one time, it must have been a pretty nice place to stay during one of Metcalfe's monsoon season parties.  I imagine the guests were treated pretty well.

These days, the only guest around is this cow who has made itself at home in one of the back rooms.

So much for the grandeur of Metcalfe's day.

Metcalfe's place

Walking around the Metcalfe house is much nicer, it seems, when all the ill-behaved, cricket-playing boys are in school.  When they aren't around, it's rather peaceful and nice to explore. 

The boat house and bridge that Thomas Metcalfe built were two things I wanted to find.
When he would host elaborate parties here, he would make sure the river entrance was lit up and he would receive visitors at the boathouse. 
There's no water left to show that there was ever a need for a boathouse or bridge.

But that's not unusual around the Metcalfe house--he built a lot of things that were out of place.


I was back in the neighborhood of the Thomas Metcalfe house, and it seems I missed this last time:  He didn't build only one ziggurat, but two!
One spiral ziggurat.
And one square ziggurat.

This is amazing to me...
...because I still don't understand why a man who had this view needed to add ziggurats to the landscape.

Graffiti artist

 There's a graffiti artist along this road.
I travel this way just frequently enough that I notice he adds new paintings every now and then.

Probably there's more than one graffiti painter, as they aren't all of equal quality.
Some of them aren't much to look at.
But others are truly works of art, with a message to tell.
I thought it was kind of fun to get the auto driver to stop so I could take photos.  What was I doing?  Why would I want to stop in this place--there was a wall on both sides of the road?
He was confused the first few times.
But I was paying him enough that he just stopped and waited wherever I asked.
It made for an interesting outting.
So I suggest stopping to appreciate their work, if you see some.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Metro museum

 This is the guy that started it all.
A mannequin at the metro, with his hand extended in greeting.
Did you know there's a museum within the metro line system?  I stumbled into it one day--literally, because I fell down the stairs...okay, so it was the escalator...embarassing...

So I landed in the station and saw this guy--this was no ordinary metro station.  There were displays!

That day there was no time to look around and this was my first chance to come back.

The metro museum.
It's not big.  It's not super exciting.
But to walk around underground in the airconditioning is kind of nice.
Photography, though, is not allowed here.
So I have done you the favor of taking all the prohibited photos on your behalf.

This girl is the mascot.
Her picture and greeting is on most metro stations somewhere.
The metro has been thirty years in the making.  Thirty.  Wow.  Talk about Indian time.

The metro has even won itself an award in the shape of the Qutub Minar.  I'm not sure if they didn't award it to themselves, but it's cool nonetheless.

So if your looking for a short walk around the metro, get off at Patel Chowk and see what there is to see.  It won't take you very long.
....and be careful on the escalator.


This is how the old tires go away.

Sometimes I wonder how the protestors who set them on fire find them so readily.
Maybe there's a warehouse somewhere...