Monday, January 23, 2012

Delhi Sightseeing

Yesterday (Monday) was our last full day in Delhi and we made the most of it.

Dave's Indian friend had asked one of his Indian employees to make arrangements for a car and tour guide for us. That young man, Jittin, decided he himself would guide us and we enjoyed a terrific day with this charming 25-year-old who has already earned his MBA and speaks fluent English.

They were late in arriving at our hotel because many routes have been closed for security reasons, in anticipation of Republic Day January 26. Our driver was skillful and smooth. After some of our travels, we were actually surprised to find out that much of our driving through Delhi was fairly similar to driving in a large European city. Oh, there are still moments. This is India.

We first visited Qutb Minar, a very impressive tower that looks like an ornately decorated Leaning Tower of Pisa.

After a stop for some shopping we enjoyed lunch with Jittin, who, as a vegetarian himself, chose some delicious selections for us. As we've experienced before, the dishes are so complex and interesting that we'd never know they didn't include meat.

After lunch we visited Humayun's tomb, wandering around the building and the grounds for some time. It's strikingly reminiscent of the Taj Mahal in size, general design, and layout, not surprising since it was built in the same era by Muslim architects.

Jittin told us this was the first time he had visited either of these historical sites. Like many others, he knew they were there but had never taken the time to see them.

Our driver then skillfully wended his way back to the hotel and Jittin joined us for a couple of drinks in the lounge. We were able to ask him frank questions about India, and he did likewise about "America." We also learned that he has an absolutely encyclopedic memory of Hollywood movies from the 1980s onward, being able to name the movie, the director, and the Oscars won. He told us he owns about 2000 DVDs, and he obviously makes use of them. From his days working at a call center, he can still name all of our state capitals, apparently a test requirement.

It was a great day. Jittin will be working the night shift tonight, but the driver is to pick us up and take us to the Red Fort, the third UNESCO World Heritage Site we will visit in Delhi on our whirlwind visit.

Then it will be back to the hotel to pick up our baggage and one final ride to the airport on the Metro Train to catch our flight back home. After all of the hustle and bustle, we're hoping to catch a few hours of sleep in our flatbed seats before returning to reality.

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