Monday, February 11, 2008

Textiles, forts, and photos

Oh my!

Sorry for the gap since the last post...

We've done a lot since. Including figure out how to upload photos onto these computers, so! A brief, incomplete visual guide to our last little while...

This is the main building of Humayun's Tomb, which was built in the 16th century. You can't see a lot of the detail here, but just about every square inch was covered in paint and carvings. It was really beautiful, and on huge grounds, which were based on an octagon motif. There were streams running out from it on all four sides, which led to smaller structures.

Note the mass of private school kids on a field trip. Private school kids on field trips have been a pattern at every place we've been. They nag white tourists incessantly for attention, usually just with a chorus of "Hi! Hi! Hi!" until you obligate, but sometimes we've been cornered, got stuck shaking dozens of hands, having extremely awkward small talk with a group of kids we're trying to ignore and are sure are making fun of us. So that's been not great. At all costs, we're trying to avoid getting stuck in a mass (by this we mean hundreds) of teenage boys, which happened once with unpleasant effects. Still, look how nice that tomb is.

This is the view down from our room to the rooftop patio of our hotel, and down to the square we face, which is just off the main bazaar in Pahar Ganj. We've been eating there a lot. It's cheap and hasn't made us sick yet. Woot! Excuse the blur.

We can't offer photos right now of a lot of what we saw, including the National Museum and Qutb Minar, this beautiful 13th century minaret, because they're on Emma's camera and she doesn't have it on her at the moment. So, some other time.
This is a very small part of the inside of the Red Fort, which is probably something like 2 square km inside. Enormous. The outside is all red sandstone, and the inside, where Shah Jahan and his family lived, gave audiences, etc, is all this sort of architecture; really ornate, very intricately carved white marble. Again, very beautiful. A lot of the paint has been chipped away, and large parts were once inlaid with gold and precious stones, which are all gone. We were still very impressed.
We also wish we could show you Akshardam, the recently built temple we went to a few days ago. All white and pink sandstone, again with the amazing carvings. Attention to detail seems to be what differentiates the peaks of Indian architecture from that of other countries. This huge structure, which also sat on massive grounds, were over 100 000 carvings of deities, over 200 elephants (around the perimeter of the temple), and uncountable other details (especially the ceilings). Something like 300 million hours of labour went into the details. So, you know, that's a lot of detail.
(Nevermind how much it cost to build, how much the land would have cost and the materials, and how much, in comparison, the actual labourers who built it were paid... that's a whole other issue.)
Today we braved the bazaar and got some things, mostly necessities like power converters and locks, but we also each bought a shawl-type-thing. The green one I brought (thanks Marcelle) has been the MVP of my wardrobe so far, turning the most scandalous tshirt into something socially appropriate. Also, it's cold at night.... I've really only taken it off to shower since we got on the plane. So we thought investing in one or two of those made sense. Also, they're pretty. And cheap! Emma's was less than $2 CDN, and mine was less than $8 (a little heavier/warmer material). Which brings me to my next point...
Oh my god, textiles.
Today was a great day.

I think we're both adjusting to the, uh... cultural climate, here a little more. We had to remind ourselves yesterday that we'd really only been here for less than a week. We're just about feeling ready to move on, which is good because tomorrow morning, bright and early (read: around 6am) we're getting on a train for Jaipur, Rajasthan. We have one night there, then we're taking an overnight train the next night for Jodhpur, then a few days later on to Jaisalmer. A few days after that we're up to Bikaner where we're doing perhaps the tackiest thing we'll be at during this entire trip: riding camels out into the desert for an overnight. (Emma is bullying me to use the word "safari," but my dignity refuses.) So we're obviously excited about that, even though it's so, so touristy. Come on. How many times do you get to camp in the desert, much less ride a camel there and back?
Don't judge us.
Alright, maybe another post later. We're getting grumpy and it's lunch time (almost 1pm).
Take care y'all.

Oh, ps, this is from when we got our bags back:

Yes, it was that good.


Anonymous said...

the shot of you spooning your bag... priceless. mainly because i got to see your face, but also because spooning things that aren't people is hilarious.

also, i think that i *could* have a spiritual experience related to textiles. :)

want to read more!


M. said...

thanks carly. i saw turmeric-coloured wool yesterday and thought of you. stay in canada until i get back so i can bring you some.