Woke up super duper early and stepped out of our room. The entire hotel atrium smelled like Diwali smoke. Hooray for the ventilation in our rooms! You can’t even tell it’s all smokepocalypse out.
Started the day at the hotel buffet. Had some Indian curry, bacon and eggs, porridge with shiitake mushrooms. I heart international breakfast buffets.
Next, it was off to Humayun’s Tomb. We grabbed a taxi from the hotel. Our driver kept trying to convince us to hire him for the day… for 1,600 rupees. That’s about 24 dollars. For a day. And that’s without bargaining.
Alas, rule number one to being a tourist here is to be really good at saying, “No, thank you.” Wait, that’s rule number two. Rule number one is to only drink water from sealed bottles.
I joked that whenever I visit a new country I go around visiting really really big old buildings. Humayun’s Tomb is a really really big old building… full of dead people. It’s near other relatively big old buildings full of dead people. I guess it’s a neighborhood thing. Like Colma.
Unlike Colma, a lot of people come here to take pre-wedding photos. I get that it’s pretty but, um, this place is for dead people.
This picture doesn’t capture it, but Humayun’s Tomb is really square in many ways.
After the tomb we took an Uber over to Lajpat Nagar, where I picked up some bangles at the Central Market and Aaron got a Sherwani from one of the many wedding attire shops. Except it wasn’t as simple as that; walking in that area is an adventure in itself.
Here’s what I’ve learned about traffic here in the last day: Not only are lanes a suggestion, sidewalks are also a suggestions. When traffic gets really bad the cars will simply drive on the other side of the road, and motorcycles will drive on the sidewalk. Direction of traffic is a suggestion as well; even though the main street through Lajpat Nagar was separated by a concrete divider, as pedestrians we still had to look both ways before crossing, because a non-trivial amount of traffic would be coming from the “wrong” direction. Some stoplights are also just a suggestion. Rules are suggestions, flow is king. Here is our Uber ride into Lajpat Nagar. It’s still early and there is not much traffic on the road.
I noticed today that a lot of cars have bumper extensions, and that a lot of those extensions look well used. Also, a normal distance between cars as they pass is about 6-8 inches.
I’m also getting a feel for Indian Standard Time. I experienced it with various reservations before the trip, and we experienced it in person today waiting for Aaron’s Sherwani alterations. What do you do when you’ve already waited (we used that time to explore Central Market) and need to wait some more? Surprise lunch! We shared a Thali plate and momos.
A few more random notes. I’m scribbling things in my little notebook as I go: The parks are filled with people playing cricket on Sunday mornings. It’s possible (likely?) they play throughout the day, but I only looked in the morning. There are stray dogs everywhere. They know how to stop and look before crossing the street. There are pigeons in a lot of places too. They sound really creepy when they coo in an echoey tomb. There are guards everywhere. If you have a shop with nice things, or want people to think you have a shop with nice things, you hire a guard. There are guards at our hotel. They inspect the cars as they enter, run our bags through X-ray, and look all official about making people go through a metal detector. I consider it mostly theatre.
I get some stares here and there. If they’re staring at my face I know it’s because I’m Chinese. If they’re staring at my calves I know it’s because my capris are too revealing. That thing about covering one’s legs fully? Everyone really does it here. But hey, at least I’m not wearing daisy dukes.
Final bit of randomness: Camels heading straight into the traffic of Lajpat Nagar. Mega props to these super chill dromedaries.
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Took a nap, then went to dinner. I’ve had Indian food for two straight meals now, and it pretty much tastes like the Indian food in the Bay Area. At the end of dinner we were served betel leaf shots. Interesting and new.