May 25, 2013

India & Nepal Photodiary: Delhi Part ii

Continued on from THIS post! 

| Sikh man with gigantic turban |

| Tourist shot; spot the dorky money pouch? |

So we woke up the next morning after this and decided to go to Wenger's  (a super popular Western bakery) at Connaught place to buy some pastries, macaroons and other fun stuff to snack on during the day. We planned to go to Humayun's tomb (a popular tourist destination) before we were to go on a walking tour of Old Delhi. After we got to Humayun's tomb (pictures above and below) we took a quick "break" and scoffed down all our baked goods in 10 mins because they were that good.

There were a lot of local school students visiting that day too and they must have thought we looked very interesting because they crowded around R and I, trying to touch our clothes and grasp our hands and shouting out hello and "hello, didi!" (which I think means "big sister" in Hindi) so that was kind of sweet.

The tomb and its surrounding gardens were beautiful, and massive. It was funny because when we entered, we thought the entrance arch (which was gigantic and a masterpiece in itself) so we oohed and ahhed only to walk through it and realise there is a giant sprawling garden tomb (the main building in the photo above, which was so wide and large my poor lens couldnt  even fit it in one frame). Anyhow, short history lesson aside, the tomb built in the late 1500s was where the Mughal emperor Humayun was buried . It is now a UNESCO site, and I believe it was the 1st garden tomb built in India- it is kind of a precursor to the great Taj Mahal that was going to be built years later. I just thought that it was really cool to see the Persian and Asian influence in the Mughal architecture; getting to see and understand the beautiful architecture of all the historical places we went to in India was probably one of  my favourite parts of the whole trip.

 | Richard busy scoffing down an apple danish |

 After spending several hours walking around in awe (I couldnt even come close to capturing the sheer size of the tomb), we haggled a rickshaw back to our hotel where we would meet Nil who would take us on a walking tour.

| Crazy electrical wiring |

After introducing ourselves with Nil, we found out that it was just going to be Richard, Nil and I on the rest of the India portion of our trip (we had thought our tour would have 8 other people but they all cancelled last minute) which turned out to be pretty cool as it was like having a private guide and friend all in one. 

The photos above are of Jama Masjid, the main mosque in Old Delhi and the largest one in India (click HERE to see a crazy picture of the whole mosque...crazy right?). At the entrance I got jipped an exorbitant fee to buy disposable slippers (you are not allowed to wear shoes inside). Inside however, it was so peaceful (well as peaceful as it can get in the middle of Old Delhi). The mosque was built by Shah Jahan, the emperor who also built the Taj Mahal and Red Fort at Agra. It is on one of the busiest streets in old Delhi (it is impossible to get anywhere not on foot). Even at peak hour, walking through some of the narrow streets which fit two people shoulder to shoulder involved brushing against people left right and centre. 

On a side note, I think it was in one of those streets or on the subway -which are also extremely packed- that Richard got his phone (a Samsung Note) pickpocketed (!).

| Extremely busy street in Old Delhi right outside the mosque |

 | Walking along one of the winding narrow alleyways |

| Lady making Chai |

There was a good side however. After being led by Nil through all the winding alleyways of shops, houses and tiny beauty parlors we were told by Nil that "the best Chai can be found in the dirtiest, dodgiest places". And it turned out to be so true!
A sweet old lady in one of the shops made us some Indian Chai, the first taste we would ever get. She basically stirred some milk, spices, tea and sugar (lots of it) in a saucepan, poured it into biodegradable cups (biodegradable because she wanted to increase tourist revenue, smart right?) and gave it to us steaming hot. After that we were hooked and pretty much drank masala chai every single day, multiple times a day from then on!

| Wedding shops |

We then visited a Sikh temple (above), where we learnt about the Sikh religion. After being told that we had to wear head coverings (see first photo of the post of a turbanned Sikh man) and wash our feet at the entrance, we went inside and observed a daily ritual and then visited the volunteers who work there all day cooking and preparing food for worshippers. They were extremely lovely and even let Richard have a go at making some roti...which was a lot harder than it looked...

| From clockwise: R with one of the cooks, another cook who asked me to take his photo after putting a cake tin on his head, volunteers making roti, and R learning how to roll roti dough |

After that, it was the late afternoon so we took a cycle rickshaw from Chandni Chowk (famous busy street in Old Delhi) back to our hotel, stopping along the way to buy some spices, tea and other knick knacks to take back home.

Right before we left for our hotel, we climbed to the top of one of the buildings and watched the sun set over Old Delhi. And whilst yes it is dirty, noisy, crowded, chaotic and run down in most places, there is a undeniable beauty about it that I can't really describe. It has a certain spirit, vivacity, colour and craziness that you can't get anywhere else. You have to be there to understand it, and even when you are there amongst all the sights, smells, tastes and hate it and love it at the same time. I think it's the India feeling...and it is probably the single reason why I want to go back!

Thanks for staying with me, and leaving such lovely comments still even though I haven't posted for a while!

May 1, 2013

After Dark

Thought I'd post this quickly because it's been long overdue. The people at Dressestylist were kind enough to send me this custom-made number weeks ago. The colour (supposed to be cobalt blue) was not as cobalt-y as I expected but it makes it more demure. Add a modest thigh split and the cute back and it's probably something I'd wear to a wedding or more formal/ sensible event.

I figured the rich deep colour of the dress was perfect for a sundown shoot but unfortunately Richard and I left it a bit late and the 'shoot' turned into a 15 minute quick snap in near darkness after the sun went down. Still, did my best to salvage the photos in Photoshop and I think it turned out ok? I'm definitely thinking of re-shooting it more creatively though in the future...

As always, comment what you think and defintiely check out Dressestylist if you're on the lookout for well made, cheap and custom-made formal dresses!

April 15, 2013

India & Nepal Photodiary: Delhi Part I which we wandered around a strange new city by ourselves for a couple of days.

 |Cycle rickshaw drivers taking a nap. I thought his neatly tucked away shoes in the roof of his rickshaw was quite cute! |

Yes here it is finally- the trip we took in January!!
So maybe we should start from the beginning...

R and I decided to do an overland backpacker trip from India to Nepal, starting in Delhi and ending in Kathmandu, with a whole bunch of fun stuff thrown in like camping on the Ganges and trekking around Kathmandu Valley at the end of the trip. It was one of the (if not most) craziest things we have ever done and the craziness began as soon as we touched down in Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi at 3am after almost 24 hours (literally) of being in transit. After successfully buying Indian simcards and avoiding being scammed by taxi touts, we hailed a cab and attempted to find our way to our accommodation for the night; where we would wake up the next morning to well and truly begin our adventure.

I actually remember falling asleep saying "We're in India, Richard...can you believe it!...". After months and months of planning and waiting and talking about the trip we were finally there.

| Inside Delhi airport | From our window |

This is the view from our room window and was the first thing I saw on the first morning; 6am and everyone was already bustling around. By 7am the street below was noisy with dog barking, shouting men and beeping traffic. 

First thing we did was hop on a tuk-tuk/auto-rickshaw in Karol Bagh (where we were staying) and go exploring in the loud, colourful and hectic city.

After a morning of just taking everything in, we walked through Nehru Bazaar after stumbling into a street off one of the main roads we were walking along (after ditching our slightly dodgy tuk-tuk driver)

Nehru Bazaar: | Richard dodging traffic || Beautiful spices || Typical market alleyway || We somehow ended up lost in this cemetery || Little boy strolling alleyway || Dense shops || Smart Wear 4 Smart People || Shops with living quarters on top || Cheap clothes ||Businessman || Local kids |

I didn't take many photos since I was so busy taking everything in and trying not to get run over. But I loved how everything was just so fast-paced and vibrant...which I came to realise later pretty much describes India in a nutshell. Oh yeah I successfully bargained myself a kaftan top for 100 INR (roughly $1.75AUD) in that market.

We also visited Connaught Place (an upmarket Western shopping hub where funnily enough I didn't buy anything):

Connaught Place: | Stray Dogs || Connaught Place || Strolling shoppers in Connaught || Local Maccas menu || Random monkey || Street Food || Street wares || Woman shopping in a pretty sari ||Men buying blue jeans at a street stall. |

 Blue jeans are like a staple in almost every Indian man's wardrobe. We got tired pretty quickly looking at all the brand name stores like Nike, A+F, Esprit etc.

All the window-shopping tired us out so we had lunch at Zen, a Chinese/Jap restaurant (turns out Chinese food is super popular in India, there was almost always a Chinese section in every menu we ever looked at...which is a lot of menus).

Because it was getting rather late but not late enough to dinner, we decided to squeeze in a visit to a small tourist attraction. So after being waylaid by several touts and  "students" trying to lead us to the wrong location, we walked (traffic is even worse at peak) to Jantar Mantar which is like a small park filled with several weird architectural astronomy instruments built in the 1700s.

| Passed this house/estate/hotel? on the way |

| Various structures in Jantar Mantar. Can you spot the giant sundial? |

We finished looking at all the structures in under an hour and just sat on the grass with our Lonely Planet that we were lugging around (if you have seen the India guide, you'll know it is one massive brick) and planned our evening - the park seemed like a super popular hang out place for local families and canoodling couples. 

| Food consumed: top photos are from Lunch @Zen and bottom is dinner @Embassy, both at Connaught Place |

We returned to Connaught Place (again!) for dinner and a movie, but it turns out our movie night plans went out the door because they weren't showing any with English subtitles at the time. But that was ok, because it meant we could just go back to our hotel and have an early night- R is extremely fond of sleeping. And besides, a couple days later I would discover my great love for watching Indian music videos on TV ;)

| More street vendors seen while walking around  |

And- just because I can- here are some more photos of sleeping rickshaw drivers:

| Even his dog is having a siesta! |

Sorry this took a while (aha understatement) to post up, it took several attempts in between settling into a somewhat hectic schedule between uni (just finished Cardio block), my new job, and shuttling back and from from Sydney. And then I went back and re-edited some more photos I wasn't happy with. Get it together Annie!

But thanks for trawling through this post and my lame commentary, I tried to keep it in roughly chronological order for my records (and reminiscing purposes ;) ). The next post will be Part II, the last half of our time in Delhi (I think we only spent a bit more than 3 days which is nowhere near enough). And that will be coming soon for real because it is all edited and ready to go! 

Comment and let me know what you think, or if you've been anywhere interesting lately! :)