I am so done with Delhi. I’m having a really, completely, not enjoying India at all moment. It’s been building since we got to the capital city. We have a nice place to stay. We’ve enjoyed Qutub Minar, loved Gandhi Smitri and had fun with Mughal cuisine, but. See, there had to be a but. Nope. Delhi – I’m glad to be leaving.
With my phone stuffed down my knickers we made our second attempt on Jama Masjid. At the first attempt, when we’d walked from Raj Ghat (the cremation location of Gandhi), we’d hit Gate 2 at Jama Masjid and found an argumentative mobster demanding 300 INR each for our cameras. He almost coming to blows with Nigel over the fee.
“Don’t trust him, he’s a conman”, screamed an Indian woman on her way out, “Go to the other gate.” So we did.
The printed rules say that there’s no fee to get in, but that a camera will cost you 300 INR. And you can’t leave your camera with the gate staff. So outside the gate we surreptitiously stuffed my phone in my knickers and Nige got intimate with his camera too.
A more officious mobster met us at Gate 1 to the Masjid. Demanding to look in our bags and then not let us in if we didn’t pay the fee, he attempted to claim that my spare battery was a camera. Clearly my face told him that I thought he was a complete and utter moron and we were let in. This felt a little bit like when we first arrived in India a few months back.
In complete contrast to the serenity of the Golden Temple of Amritsar, which has a sublime and holy feel about it, Jama Masjid feels like yet another part of Delhi trying to screw another rupee out of you. This felt like a dirty scam. Only western tourists were stopped at the gate. No other bags were checked.
Call a spade a spade, I say, if you want to charge westerners access, then just be honest. But, don’t be showing me a rule that says it’s 300 INR for a camera and then let any Indian walk in without checking and without a ticket. There were hundreds of cameras and cellphones that were clicking away inside the mosque. And about ten western tourists.
Dirty is a feeling that I’m used to in Delhi. I don’t like it. The city that is. The people are rude. They shoulder each other out of the way as much as they do tourists. They click their fingers, whistle and scream at you to take their auto, or cycle rickshaw. Many stand in the entrance to the train station and bar your way in. They demand to know if you have a ticket, or telling you that you can’t go in that way, when everyone else is.
There are nicer parts of the city, I’m sure. Like I wrote about here. Walking between the National Museum and the Gandhi Smitri (where he spent his last 144 days) is pleasant enough. But mostly, there is garbage on the ground. You can’t look up at sights for the fear of standing in dog shit. Around most corners, there’s a man pissing up against a wall. Even on the outside wall of a block of toilets.
And the men. The men are in the main, just plain creepy. I have taken to walking with my hands clenched into fists. If I have to step to the side to fit through a gap, which happens all the time here, I no longer drop my shoulder and try and slide through, I go in shoulder first and barge my way through.
These men don’t just look, they stare. They look you up and down. They continue to stare, like you’re a possession or something to be owned.
So when we gave up on trying to walk through Chandni Chowk – the Old Delhi Bazaar area and took the metro, I found myself not wanting to take the Ladies Only carriage for the novelty of it. I just plain didn’t want to get into the other packed carriage with what feels like a bunch of sleazeballs.
Even in here, there’s no respite. You’re watched all the time.
In China, when people wanted to take their photo with us, it was fun, here, if its a group of men, it makes my skin crawl. I make very little eye contact, I wear my sunglasses all the time and truthfully, I can’t wait to get on a train out of here tomorrow.
- Where we stayed in Delhi – The Raj Mahal Inn near the New Delhi Railway Station
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