Ch. 36, Doing Delhi in a Day
For the ones who have grown up in this city, there’s no other place quite like it. Those who visit for the first time find it an overwhelming experience. That’s Delhi for you. With a history that’s both rich and tragic, Delhi isn’t just a city. It’s a universe of its own. —Sripana
Not too much time at any one place, but just enough to give the travelers a taste and, should they want to return at a later date, a little knowledge of where they could go on their own.
This morning after breakfast, we wandered through the Qutub Minar, a 12th century Muslim mosque and minaret that I though fascinating. I would like to see it at different times of the day to see the effects of different light, but we have places to go and things to see, so we’re off to see a display of genuine hand-knotted carpets made in Kashmir from traditional Persian and Muslim designs.
Let’s be frank. I know nothing about carpets except that they need to be vacuumed to pick up the parrot feathers and firewood debris. While I think they are beautiful, they aren’t my style and would not fit in the décor of my home. Nonetheless, I found the brief talk interesting.
Our “teacher” explained and demonstrated the elaborate process for making hand-woven, hand-knotted rugs and carpets, using models. According to him (I didn’t get his name), the more your walk on one of these carpets, the better it gets.
|Tools of the trade.|
Making a 9’x12’ wool carpet with silk backing, single-knotted, takes six months just to prepare the design grid. The actual weaving of a double-knotted carpet requires two men four and a half years.
They use silk for the backing, he explained, because silk is ten times stronger than steel, not that anyone makes a carpet with steel backing, I suppose.
One by one, his assistants unrolled rugs and carpets of all kinds, silk, sheep wool, mountain goat wool, and yak wool. “Cat and dog proof,” he said.
|A long runner.|
Some designs showed one shade when viewed from one end, and another shade when viewed from the other end.
Khawa (tea) was served, a typical and delicious Afghanistan/Pakistan/Kashmir breakfast blend of green tea with cinnamon, cardamom, and saffron.
I drank my khawa, wandering around the large display room with dozens of unrolled carpets and rugs lying on the floor, stacked on top of each other, and all I could think of was that I was sure glad I didn’t have to roll up all those beautiful rugs and carpets myself.
And, after some made purchases and arranged for shipping home, we went to lunch at a franchised restaurant called Lazaaz Affaire.
The first of our group to arrive was stopped at the entrance. We then waited, and waited, and waited some more. Soon another group, led by a very assertive woman guide, marched her charges past us into the restaurant.
Finally we were allowed to enter and directed to an upstairs dining room, where the previous group was seated, scattered at various tables around the café. No problem, but our group then took whatever tables were left, which left us scattered around the dining room.
The other group apparently was composed of Koreans and I think some, if not all, were part of a religious sect.
|Tandoori chicken and potato. Alas, the chicken was over-cooked and dry. Is that how they serve chicken in India?|
Eventually, the food began to arrive, usually one delicious dish at a time. They kept coming, dish after dish of Northern Indian and Mughal food. Long after our appetites were sated, food arrived at our table and was left untouched. At long last, ice cream was served. I think that was the last dish. I’ll never know because we left shortly afterwards.
|The restaurant was in a very nice residential area.|
|Nothing like telling it like it is.|
From there, we went to the most revered spot in all of Delhi. I’ll tell you about it next.