Friday, January 18, 2008

Delhi Update

Hi there. I bet you thought I was lost in India!

Kristin and Amy have been so busy that I haven't had time to update you on my trip. Plus, Kristin has been having computer problems. She calls it "the blue screen of death." I have no idea what she is talking about, but I do know it is NOT good.

Right now Kristin's computer is here it goes.

The first thing I noticed when we arrived in Delhi is the traffic. It is CRAZY! The roads are jammed full of cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, and bicycles.

The streets are also packed with these funny looking green and yellow three-wheel things.

Kristin says these are called "auto-rickshaws" and they are basically a motorcycle in the front with seats in the back. I really wanted to ride in one but Kristin has rented a car and driver for our entire trip. :(

On Tuesday, Kristin also hired a guide to help guide us around Delhi. His name is Satyender and he is very nice. He told us about 16 million people live in Delhi. Did you know that more than 1 BILLION people live in India? I had no idea. That's a lot of people!

We spent most of the day on Tuesday in a portion of the city called "Old Delhi." Our first stop was a place called "Jama Masjid." Our guide says it is the largest mosque in India.

Our guide told us so many things about the mosque that I knew I would forget most of it. So Kristin helped me find Web links that tell you more about the mosque and all of the other places we've visited. Just click on the colored words in this post to learn more.

Everyone has to take their shoes off before they can go into the mosque. Kristin has had to do this before. She also thought she might have to wear a headscarf like she did in Egypt and Indonesia, but our guide told her and Amy they didn't need one.

The mosque is big and it is surrounded by tall red, arched walls.

The walls surround a huge courtyard. There were many people visiting the mosque when we were there. But there were hundreds (if not thousands) of birds also "visiting" the mosque. Here you can see some boys feeding a group of pigeons.

Sometimes people would get too close to the pigeons and they would all fly away really quickly. It is a good thing I have a safe place to hide inside Kristin's bag. I was afraid the pigeons would grab me! Kristin snapped this cool photo of the birds flying around us (and yes...I was hiding at this point!).

While we were walking around the courtyard I noticed a number of kids my age wearing old clothes. They would walk up to people and ask for money.

I was shocked at how the kids were dressed and that they were asking for money. Kristin says that many families in India are very poor....some don't even have houses. This makes me sad. Kristin reminded me that I should be grateful for my toys and my house. She is right.

Kristin and Amy walked around the courtyard and took photos for awhile and then our guide took them up a flight of stairs so we could get a closer look at one of the tall mosque towers. Our guide told Kristin and Amy they could climb to the top of the tower and take photos of the city. Kristin decided to walk to the top of the tower and Amy stayed behind. She took this photo of the tower while Kristin and I were climbing to the top.

I think Amy was smart to stay behind. Climbing to the top of the tower was REALLY scary. First, it was pitch black inside. Second, the stairs were so narrow that people walking down the stairs had to squeeze by Kristin. It is a good thing I am flat. I'm not sure I would have made it up the stairs if I wasn't! Kristin took this photo of the stairs. You can see them only because of the flash on her camera.

Kristin was REALLY glad when we made it to the top because she was out of breath! But, I think it was worth climbing the dark stairs. Here are some of the photos Kristin took at the top of the tower.

Here's a close-up of the buildings near the mosque.

And this is just one of the jammed-packed streets next to the mosque.

Kristin carefully walked down the stairs and breathed a sigh of relief when she made it to the bottom again. Whew!

After we left the mosque, our guide suggested we take a rickshaw ride. He told us it was the best way to see the huge market surrounding the mosque. I was SO excited. But we didn't take an auto-rickshaw. We took a bicycle one like this one.

I had SO much fun riding on the rickshaw.

It's a good thing we didn't take the car for this part of the trip. The market was very crowded and the streets were full of people and rickshaws. There was even a cow on one of the tiny streets!

Here are a few photos Kristin took during our rickshaw ride.

As soon as we left the market area, the rickshaw took us to a place called "The Red Fort" or "Lal Qila."

The outside walls of the Fort are made with red sandstone. I guess that's why it is called the "Red Fort." But some of the buildings inside the tall walls are made of white marble.

There are many different buildings inside the Red Fort. Here are some of the photos Kristin took during our visit.

I have noticed since we arrived in India that many women wear the brightly colored outfits like the ones the women are wearing in the above photo. Kristin says this is a traditional outfit called a "sari." Who knew? She says most of the bright fabric we saw on our rickshaw drive through the market area are for saris. I asked Kristin if she has worn one. She says she hasn't. She says the sari is one long piece of fabric and it has to be wrapped in a certain way....and she is certain that she doesn't know how to wrap it correctly.

After we left the Red Fort, our driver and guide took us back to the section of town called "New Delhi." I think it is strange that there is an "Old Delhi" and a "New Delhi." Kristin says "New Delhi" is the part of town where most of the Indian government buildings are located. She says it is also "new" because much of this section of town was built in the past 100 years. I had no idea!

This is a view of the Parliament in New Delhi. Kristin says the Parliament is where the people who help run India's government meet. I think this is similar to the Congress in the United States.

And this is the President's house. It is located behind a tall gate. Kristin had to take this photo from the gate. The security guards wouldn't let us get any closer.

On our way back to the hotel we saw something called the "India Gate."

Kristin the India Gate is a memorial for British soldiers who died in World War I and other wars. Kristin wanted to get closer to the gate to take a better photo, but there were lots of security guards and yellow gates along the street. Our guide told us "Republic Day" is January 26. It is a large military parade and that's why there is so much security in the area right now.

Whew! We've had a very busy day. I am tired and hungry. So I am going to have dinner and go to bed.

More later