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India is different, you'll notice that directly after arriving on Delhi airport. The airport is dark and gives a bit sloppy impression. You see posters that warn you to inform the police in case of any harassing by 'touts' (don't worry if this word means nothing to you, this will change very soon!), and posters that encourage everybody to smile. This last poster is not very successful! The tourists are too much tired at four o'clock in the morning to enjoy the frantic search for their boarding passes, apparently essential for entering India (next flights we were prepared and kept all our boarding passes, of course nobody asked for them ever again). Also the returning Indian people look not to happy while opening their nicely packed gifts, which seem to be particularly suspicious to the customs officers.
Freshly arriving from the Western World you need some time to learn to behave as if this isn't your first time in India, very essential for survival in Delhi! One step out of your carefully from home reserved hotel, and everybody is volunteering to help you off off your money.
'Want to go shopping, sir?'
'No, no, that way no shops open, please follow me, show you good shopping!'
'Much too far to walk, sir!'
After you explained several times that you are neither interested in a taxi nor shopping, shoe cleaners urge you to give your shoes a treat. Automatically you decline, but they are not so easily disappointed (nobody is in India) and ask, anxiously pointing at one of your shoes, if you're sure? We were pretty sure, but some other greenhorn tourists walking right in front of us were not so sure, at least not when they noticed one of their shoes to be covered with a carefully positioned piece of shit! Our Lonely Planet (from here: LP) guide was warning us for these 'shoe scams', but when we read this at home we judged it to be at least a bit exaggerated. You can imagine we really started worrying when it took us less than half an hour to meet with our first scam!!!
We changed our mind and took the fourth auto riksja we met, the first one that agreed after some bargaining to a price only 3 times higher than the price stated in our Lonely Planet. We concluded that inflation must be pretty bad in India, at least for tourists. Now we were able to enjoy looking around in the spacious New Delhi, without worrying to give encouragement to all kind of service providers! Only during stops for traffic lights beggars took their chance, but luckily autoriksja drivers don't tend to stop for traffic lights unless absolutely unavoidable - and absolutely unavoidable is stretched to unknown limits in India!
We arrived at 'Lal Qila', the Red Fort. Immense walls of red sandstone rise in front of us; the walls are 33 meters high on the city side and have a total length of 2 km. Even before we were able to leave our auto riksja a mass of vendors leaped upon us, armed with about everything you can think of (or not). In the meantime our riksja driver kept worrying if he should not better wait for us. We didn't think that very necessary, seeing the enormous amount of readily available auto riksja's just in front of the Red Fort.
It was impossible to take a couple of seconds to let the massive Red Fort impress us, and even when we left the Fort again with renewed courage, I didn't succeed in taking photographs worth looking at. So you will have to wait till our visit at the Agra Fort, were I was more successful - probably due to a considerable increase in my ability to isolate myself completely from my surroundings! You better learn quickly in India...
Once inside the walls of 'Lal Qila' and past the even here unavoidable bazaar, we can relax a little bit. We found a very quiet spot and looked around in the enormous garden. The garden was surrounded by lots of beautiful buildings. Within its impressive walls the 'Lal Qila' is much more like a palace than like a fort. The Red Fort dates from 1640 and was built by Shah Jahan, one of the so-called Mughal emperors (Moors), and a very busy one as far as we can judge now by the number of buildings he created - you will see his name again and again. His son Aurangzeb imprisoned him in Agra Fort. We have our (totally not scientific based) theories concerning the even more powerful son, you can read about this interesting subject in the Agra pages.
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