India’s Capital

New Delhi has a hefty population of 20 million people. This results with it also being home to the country’s biggest airport named after the controversial prime minister, Indira Ghandi. It was 38 degrees celcius when I stepped out into the dirt mixed Delhi air at 10pm. Thank goodness for a 5 star hotel being provided on my first ever work trip abroad. This was my second time in India, the first being in 2009 when I backpacked and volunteered in the southern part of the country.
Red Fort
a South Indian breakfast in North India

I knew this time around my experience would be different. I was here to recruit Indian students who wanted to study in Canada. It wasn’t just about travelling anymore. However any way I could explore, I took the chance! India is a country you can travel to many times over without being bored – there is just TOO much to explore: cultures, food, cities, historical sites and landscapes. It’s tough to be bored in incredible India!

Indian students LOVE to study in Canada!
A vendor at India Gate

Delhi’s Red Fort was built by the Mugal emperor Shah Jahan (the same emperor who built the Taj Mahal in honor of his loving wife) in the walled city of Old Delhi in the 17th century. Most of Delhi’s sites that are left standing are from this period (or at least the ones I visited). It’s was blindingly hot at the Red Fort and the lack of shade surrounding this monument plus the breezes of dirt can be a lot to tolerate after a few minutes walk. Sunglasses and a hat are a must for visiting any of Delhi’s sites.

India Gate is a memorial to India’s soldiers with names of the lost souls inscribed into the stone of the gate. However like most public places, India Gate is a popular spot for families to hang out in the evenings. There is no shade however but lots of open space right in the middle of this vast city – a constant theme for Indians who just want a green space to hang out with their families after a long day.

Qutub Minar is the tallest minaret in India, standing at 72.5 meters tall. Although it is an Islamic monument built in the 10th century, it contains inscriptions that are Hindu as well as Islamic. The buildings surrounding Qutub Minar are ruins also from this time period.  The Qutub complex as it is known is a great photo op and historically interesting. Although I’ve learned that most Indians know where the sites are but have no idea as what the history behind it is.

Qutub Minar

Dili ghat is a great regional market with local crafts, pashminas and tribal knick knacks. It’s also a great place to try different foods from around India, IF you have an iron stomach. India is NOT for the faint of heart when it comes to food. Although eating from the local markets is tempting, as a foreigner this is the only country where I actually exercise caution to where I eat from. It will save you a few days of agony while squatting over a hole.

Dili Ghat market

Shopping is an interesting thing in India – there are glitzy American style malls protected with security and metal detectors across from local artisan markets, selling fruits, sarees and homemade knick knacks. However I can’t help but wonder where the money comes from for residents in Delhi to shop at the same prices as Westerners.

The gap is only enlarging – I observed this in the south during my first visit; the rich and poor divide was loud and apparent. The beggers are also getting wiser. The new stint now are beggers with injured children (missing limbs mostly, but still bloody!), harrassing you when at any red light.

The Delhi train station is more chaotic than any station I had seen in the south.  The escalators were out of service and the station stank of urine. This experience was not for the amateur travellers, and many of my co-travelers were unamused by India when we were boarding our train to Punjab.

Humayun was the father of Akbar. His tomb is known as the mini Taj Mahal and is made of red stone. Surprisingly this beautiful sight wasn’t overcrowded with tourists. Most of India’s tourists are also local, which makes for interesting people watching since the different cultures are apparent in the clothing and its people.
Overall my first couple of days in Delhi have been more than I could have asked for! Although it’s a work trip (more like a working vacay) I’m grateful for all the exploring I’ve gotten to do. I must add as well that I’ve been the most adventurous out of my colleagues who don’t understand why I’d venture out of our 5 star hotel to 40 degree weather in my harem pants and tee. I just wanna scream ‘but what about all this around us?!’ but I figure no one ever understands unless they are out in the heat themselves.
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