India & Sri Lanka - Fall 2013 travel blog

trying to dance

dancing ladies

at rest

bags for sale

brightly colored door

family business

Jain Temple

in the rickshaw

photo studio

tree temple

wedding sari store

modern wiring

quite a load

quite a selection

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

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wedding invitation dance

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rick shaw ride

New Delhi is such a huge city with 18 million residents, it is hard to know where to begin sightseeing. Old Delhi sounded like a good place to start, but it is at least a half hour taxi ride away from our hotel, which is not near any of the metro lines. We met a rickshaw tour near the Digambar Jain Temple, built in 1656. We were allowed to go inside, but had to remove anything leather we were wearing. Charles had filled us in on the Jain religion, an off shoot from Hinduism. These vegetarians take the sanctity of life concept to an extreme. They don’t eat any vegetables that grow berneath the ground, because digging up a potato might disturb an insect. They also wear face masks to avoid breathing in and killing microbes. They don’t wear shoes so they don’t crush an insect on the ground. Their priests forsake all clothing and other possessions and travel naked and barefoot through the city hoping that someone will give them something to eat. And yet the main profession of these non violent folks is money lending, often at usurious rates of 60%; consequently they are very wealthy. Charles took some Jains on a tour and they brought their own Jain cook with them, yet some of them were interested in all manner of wine, women and song while they were away from home. Sounds like some religious leaders in our country...

Back to the rickshaw tour. This was a good way to tour Old Delhi, because the streets are so narrow, no motorized vehicle could fit. We felt sorry for the slim young man who hauled our heavy bodies up and down the lanes. Gerrymandered wiring dangling ominously over our heads. In the Chawri Bazaar area, shops were grouped by product. We went through blocks of shoe stores, followed by blocks of optical shops, followed by blocks of fabrics and trims that would be made into wedding saris. At a local dive the guide ordered us a variety of different things to taste and once again I realized what a wimp I am. I couldn’t eat anything but the bread. Way too spicy! We took the tour with a couple from Texas who were babes in the woods when it comes to travel, but they inhaled the food and asked for more. I felt so inadequate...

In the afternoon we met Krishan, our new tour guide and most of the group we will travel northern India with. He offered to take us on a walk around the neighborhood. We were walking past nice looking upper middle class houses with guards out front, when we heard music. He lead us to a large group of sari clad women who were dancing and singing to drum accompaniment in the middle of the street. They grabbed my arms and insisted that I become part of the dancing. I had no idea what it was all about or what I was supposed to be doing, but I did my best to imitate their moves. Just like in the south I felt appreciated for my white karma. The ladies touched my hands and face while we danced. Later Krishan told us that this group was affiliated with a future bridegroom’s family and they were going around the neighborhood making everyone aware of the upcoming big day and inviting them to come. I think perhaps we were invited to the wedding, too - if my dancing was good enough.

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