Sunday, November 23, 2008
The weather has changed in Delhi....there is a bit of a nip in the air, much like the weather change that is taking place in Texas right now so I am told.
After being here for over a month and a half, it was time for a haircut.....when I arrived in Delhi on October 1st, I got my first haircut at the ITC Maurya Hotel where I was staying. It didn't occur to me until today what an extravagance my haircut at the Maurya seemed to my driver Ramesh.
I remember Linda asking me how much my haircut cost when I spoke to her that October morning, and told her it was about the same in the states, $10.00......or 500 rupees....When Ramesh asked me how much my haircut cost.....I paused before I said the price....and made the statement " Too much....500 rupees" to which he replied....yes alot of money.
I had seen a very nice Barber Shop at Khan Market, but they were closed on Sunday, but I have the feeling that my haircut today would have only been about one-fifth($2)the price of what I paid today.
After leaving the Maurya, I asked Ramesh to take me to Old Delhi, which is unbelievably crowded at the Chandni Chowk...the market area near Red Fort.
Red Fort was built in 1638 by Shah Jahan, who erected the fort to defend the capital city, which was called,Shahjahanabad. Pretty creative oh him naming the city after himself! The fort took only 10 years to build, and the walls are some 110 ft tall....eleven stories.....the picture that has the bus in it will give a good perspective. Like any ruler, there was opulence built into the palace, one such example was a pavilion that was used for special occasions and meetings of the high court which had a ceiling of pure silver inlaid with gold. I believe that, like my haircut, this is a bit extravagant also! This ceiling, so I have read, was replaced with one of painted wood. The fort was invaded by the Sikh's in 1783, seven years after our Revolutionary War where we gained independence from the British. Then, in 1857, the British took over command of the Fort, this was during our Civil War in the United States, and occupied it until 1947 when India gained it's Independence from Britain, and the US had just ended WWII. Interesting parallels.....but the big question is.....who plundered the silver and gold from the ceiling; was it the Sikh's, the British or the Indian Government? I couldn't find the information in anything I read.
Isn't it a shame that after so many examples in history of unrest and war, that we would have all learned our lessons by now.
Red Fort was once the home of some 3000 people, today it attracts 3 times as many people each year. The Indian Army turned the Fort over to the Tourism Commission in 2003, and they have a nightly laser light show which I have yet to see (I'm saving the tourist stuff for when the gang arrives).
While making our way back, I finally had my camera ready and had the chance to take some pictures of an elephant walking on the opposite side of the road. Ramesh turned the car around and we caught up with them and I was able to take a much better picture.
It was a relaxing day here in Delhi......extravagant by the perspective of many here in India.....I'm saving my elephant ride for this summer when we are all together as a family!