Feeling much better, we had a relatively short train trip to Delhi. Our hostel was conveniently located a few minutes from the Old Delhi train station, near a subway stop. We were very wary of Delhi, as we had heard horror stories of fellow travelers being manipulated by unscrupulous "travel agents" and rickshaw drivers, who flat-out refused to take them to their desired accommodations and even convinced some into spending hundreds of dollars to leave the city. We knew it was the dirtiest city in the world (15 out of the top 20 are in India), and were also told that because of the nearby slash and burn farming techniques, it was particularly dirty due to smoke. No blue sky days there. Having already started my allergy medication in India (which I haven't taken since leaving Oregon over a year ago), I wasn't sure how I was going to handle the pollution, especially since I was just getting over being ill.
Fortunately, while the streets were chaotic and certainly dirty, we were able to get around quite nicely via their super convenient Metro system. We hit a variety of sights in just a couple of days. The lovely Metro construction would almost convince you that this country is quite modern. However, remember, this is India. During rush hour the scrum to get on that damn subway was unlike anything I've ever seen. China was an absolutely CAKEWALK compared to that. At least the Chinese had some kind of order; cluster up to the front, take your photos pretty fast, and then eventually the crowd would spit you out based on some unspoken signal once people decided you've spent enough time there. Not nearly so civilized in India. On the subway, just before a certain stop, we had several people warn us for our safety as we stood near the door at rush hour. Sure enough, the door opened, a herd of men literally crushed themselves into the car. Men behind pushed men in front of them with all their might. I am talking straight-arming the person in front of them with everything they had. They were all laughing like this was some type of sporting event, ramming their bodies as hard as they could into the train. I started shouting, "Relax!" just to let them know that this behavior was totally unacceptable. The crowd stopped for a moment then shoved on. The people who warned us did their best to try to organize our escape when it came close to our stop. I pressed through the passengers, stepping on anything but the floor, hoping that I would get out with all of my belongings as I couldn't feel anything but the crush of sweaty bodies all around me. Why? Why can't they add cars at rush hour? Why do they feel the need to do this? It was ridiculous. It was India.
Anyway, I will let you peruse the photos; all kinds of good stuff (Mughal, British, Muslim, Bahia, Hindu, you name it) ranging from the Red Fort, to the Mughal mausoleum (built by a Persian) that inspired the Taj Mahal (Humayun's Tomb), to my favorite, the Qutb Minar ruins dating back to the 1200's. We tried to see the Lotus temple, a beautiful structure that was surrounded by a park defying all forms of entry except a tiny unmarked gate. After walking around, sweaty and sticky for close to an hour, we finally found the damn thing, only to be told that we couldn't bring in any snacks. Tired and hungry, we left and decided that we would never be converted to Bahia-ism.
As we walked around, the already interesting streets were decorated for Diwali. Lots of photo opps along Chandni Chowk (the main street in Old Delhi towards the Red Fort). The best story award goes to a Jain temple across from the Red Fort. They house a hospital for birds--but they only provide shelter to vegetarian birds! The carnivores have to be seen on an outpatient basis. How hilarious is that??