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Old Delhi – part 3, the people

September 2, 2009

People, people everywhere! Delhi is crowded and Old Delhi is more crowded. The alleys are narrow and the streets are full. But that gives you a chance to slow.down.and.look.around…

Indians are some hard-working people for sure. There is hardly a street anywhere in Delhi that doesn’t have a man pushing or pulling a bike or wagon with some heavy-arse stuff on it. Old Delhi is clearly no exception. And, yep, these guys are maneuvering between cars, trucks, buses, scooters, people, and cows. And they just never seem to have the right shoes. Can you imagine?

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I mentioned before that Old Delhi has a lot of men roaming around.
There are certainly women too, but really, it’s mostly men.

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The children on the streets of Delhi always take my breath away. This little girl was with
some of the vendors. I am guessing they are her parents or at least a relative. At least, I really, really hope so.
She is a little bitty thing and she was just in the middle of the hustle and the bustle. Right in the middle of it all.
And she seemed totally unfazed. She looked at home on the streets.
I am not really sure how I feel about that. Not that it matters. It is not changing. At least not for her. At least not right now.

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And I think this was her brother. This is how India is changing me. I wonder how I can walk away from this country
without taking a child in need home with me. And how could you possibly pick just one. Which one?
Then I come home to my own family and I am exhausted by their own energy. I wonder how I could even consider taking on more.
Living in your own bubble in the midst of such great need is overwhelming – it is nearly impossible to find a practical way to help –
to find a way to make a difference without trying to change the way India works.
To walk away from this as simply a tourist who just wants to “see” Old Delhi. Not absorb it – not really even embrace it,
but maybe just understand it a little bit better. But then what?
(p.s. I do not remember this boy being handicapped, as least not physically – certainly financially, but I think I just got his eyes closed.)

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This guy has absolutely the right idea. I left Old Delhi very much in need of a nap.

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I rode on my first bicycle rickshaw. My only advice – hold on! They actually go at a decent pace,
but mostly the roads are really bumpy and, because it’s crowded, they swerve a lot!

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Tell me how many women you count in the next photo. And no fair counting the one taking the picture….

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These three young chaps from London were amazing. They were breathing in the city and wanted to share it.
They sought us out as we were waiting in line for a table for dinner. Two in our group followed them up on a random
roof top to see Old Delhi in a different light. Yep, one of the two was me. I have not decided if that was very adventurous or very stupid.
(Shhhhh, that was a rhetorical question. I made it out alive – so I am guessing adventurous. No need for further debate.)
They had an absolute childlike amazement about Delhi and especially the kites.
They saw the beauty in the dirt and felt the soul of the people walking the streets. They were poets walking thru their own poem.
And, yes, in my pessimistic mood, I asked if they were going to have us mugged. They weren’t even insulted by the question.
Ah, to be young and unencumbered once again. Or to at least live vicariously thru them.

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I “met” this guy across the roof. We stared at each other with the same bewilderment.
And we soaked in the same scenes with the same amazement, the same appreciation.
We looked at each other and wondered together, “who in the heck is that”.
Across a roof and across cultures, we melted into the same world of amusement over kites.
And held the same respect for men bowing in prayer.
(Okay, admittedly you have to work with me on this one – he looks very uninvolved in sharing much with anyone in this moment,
but trust me, he was swept across oceans and we laughed at the same sky. I just didn’t want
him to know I was taking his picture, so I did it when he wasn’t looking at me. Please just suspend your reality and go with that, ‘kay?)

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This could be any street anywhere – in Tokyo or New York or anyone’s Chinatown.
Sometimes life is universal.

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These men joined together to break their Ramadan fast.

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All in all it was an amazing night. Exhausting and exhilirating – just like Old Delhi itself.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. deewane permalink
    September 5, 2009 6:01 pm

    OK, this post was brilliant! Very poetic, very dreamy, and yes, don’t mind if I do take you up on your offer of acting as my guide in old Delhi πŸ˜› (after all you did make me wanna go there ASAP :D)

  2. September 3, 2009 9:24 pm

    Very cool tour! I read all three parts, but I’ve only the energy to comment on this one. As usual, I walk away thinking, I just don’t know if I could do it. You’re a very brave soul.

  3. September 3, 2009 12:48 pm

    My friend who just got back from Bangalore also said that it was very strange for her not to see women on the streets there. What is up with that? Why don’t you see Indian women out on the streets?

    • September 4, 2009 5:59 am

      Hi BM
      I am not sure why they are not out much in Old Delhi. Women are everywhere in other parts of Delhi. And there were women there – just not too many. I am not sure if it had anything to do with Ramadan and many Muslims do not come out until the sun starts to go down. I just don’t know.

      • Arun permalink
        September 4, 2009 10:53 am

        Let me hazard a guess. Two reasons come to mind. First, it is a predominantly highly conservative muslim area, where women are not encouraged to go out (the few women you did see were probably completely covered head-to-toe). Second, it is a major center for traditional whole-sale business, and not many women are involved in that. The last I was there a few months ago, I went to an electric retail shop that was run by a highly articulate and professional woman—so, clearly, women do work and (presumably) live there :).

      • September 7, 2009 8:08 am

        Hi Arun – have not heard from you in a while – welcome back – there are certainly women about – just not as many women as men – not even close. But it’s not intimidating – just noticeable.

  4. Lee permalink
    September 3, 2009 11:48 am

    Incredible! Thanks for the tour. It was very engrossing!

  5. September 3, 2009 10:39 am

    I’m on visual overload right now. Thanks.

  6. September 3, 2009 5:57 am

    Wow, excellent post! You painted a very vivid narrative picture…which was only enhanced by the great photos.

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