I had a few hours to kill before my dad’s arrival to the Delhi Paharganj hell-hole. Same bullshit with that main bazaar road every time I step outside. I pick up a rickshaw, an English speaking guy comes up quickly and shoots out all the English speaking countries he ever heard of, and when I insist of telling the driver my destination he yells at me that it’s closed on a Sunday and that the rickshaw can take me for a day-tour. I refuse to believe, so another guy comes, around the age of 17-18 and confirms – “Sunday, how can you expect things to be open?”. I tell the rickshaw to just go, but he won’t budge. I reply “Lonely Planet says it’s only closed on Monday”, to which they hold a ready-made reply – “Lonely Planet always wrong. Always”. After arguing for another two minutes and stepping outside to move to a different rickshaw, they finally spot someone else and go pick on him. The Rickshaw driver sighs and starts maneuvering through the cow shit and human trash. Naturally, everything was open.
First stop was Jama Masjid, India’s biggest mosque, where I was first introduced to two major annoyances in India. The first is the “camera fee”. Entrance is free, you see, but carrying a camera, or a mobile with a camera, or something that looks like it might have something that might have the smallest relations to the camera family will cost you a bundle of rupees. I saw tourists arguing, thinking it’s another one of those Indian scams, which it is in a way, but eventually they all pay.
The second thing was having to take the shoes off and walk in socks or barefoot in what is suppose to be a clean and holy place but is actually not even close to what we term “clean”. Adding to that, it was raining that day, so we all ended up walking in mud ponds, and naturally – we needed to pay the guy who was “guarding” our shoes.
A few minutes walk from there, was the very impressive Red Fort. Up to that point, I really haven’t seen anything quite like it. That was something exceptional.
Strange things happen to those traveling in India, and Red Fort had one such peculiarity. A bunch of student-aged young Indians insisted of following me half way through my walk around the Red Fort. At some point one made an approach with a “can I please talk to you?” and when I said nothing, he called his friends and introduced them to me. They started asking me endless questions which I felt very uncomfortable about, which was weird because in Taiwan I would probably be amused, and they wouldn’t leave me alone till I took a photo with them. After they left I kept wondering what that was about, till I saw them do it with worse pressure to western girls, preferably blond, big breasted and blue-eyed. This turned out to be a common thing throughout India. Indian boys are just fascinated with western beauty in a way I’ve never seen happen before, especially not in Taiwan, not even in Vietnam.
My dad arrived later that day in what seemed like a good mood. I prepared him well for the slum of a street our hotel was in, since he wasn’t that disgusted with what was going on. We went on for a quick tour – Rama Krishna mission …
and then a bicycle rickshaw to nowhere to get something to eat, walk around and come by with the nice-looking Delhi MRT. Exhausted, we crashed on our beds, to wake up to a train taking us to whole new adventure in Northern India.