Dilli Haat Shopping

Trip Start Feb 23, 2009
1
7
29
Trip End Mar 18, 2009


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Sunday, March 1, 2009

    Sunday, we had a fine buffet breakfast in our hotel, where Miles couldn't get enough of the potato curry. He's been an adventurous and omnivorous eater of new foods, and seemly loving everything. Jae has to be more judicious, since she's avoiding gluten foods, fried foods, and any food that has two vowels next to each other.

    Punita picked us up at 11am, and chided us for not getting an earlier start. But I had been spending hours trying to figure out an internet problem with our Cambodian visa.

    First we went to the Indira Gandhi house and museum, which was close by. Miles was pretty bored looking at all the newspaper clippings that described the former Prime Minister's life, and the parts of her house that had been preserved as when she had used them. Out in the garden is a monument in the place that Mrs. Gandhi was killed by her guards, and that got a little more attention out of him. There was also several rooms about the life of her son Rajiv, who was also a politician. A strange display showed what was left of his clothing and shoes when he was blown up by a suicide bomber.

    We then proceeded to the National Gandhi Museum (for the Mahatma, who was no relation to Indira, in case you didn't know). Jae and I had visited it 12 years earlier, and I was sure that I remembered they had Gandhiji's teeth on display. There were certain doubters in my party, but at last we found the two teeth which were pulled out of his mouth in 1938, as well as a set of dentures of his. I was hoping that replicas were sold in the gift shop, but no luck. They also had his shaving kit, and his blood pressure measuring instrument. Perhaps non-violence took a toll on his blood pressure. Worth considering.

    In the Martyrdom Gallery, where no talking was allowed, they displayed the blood-stained dhoti and shawl he was wearing when he was shot, and the bullet that killed him. There was no visible security anywhere around the museum, which kind of surprised me, and the facilities and displays there were decidedly low tech so you really had to strain to see some of the items.

    Afterwards, Punita (and her nice driver) took us to Connaught Place, a shopping arcade built by the British in the middle of the city. We ate at a swank restaurant called QBA (pronounced Cuba), and Punita managed to snag the check, as she did quite often since she had a language advantage. We continued to do shopping after lunch (I bought a stack of Bollywood films and their soundtracks), and the highlight for Miles was when a pigeon high above us in the arcade managed to drop bird poop directly into my shirt pocket. A number of people around me also seemed to be quite amused. Pigeon crap on the big white man transcends all language barriers.

    Right behind the house where Punita's family hold their garden party is another garden, where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. When I visited Delhi 12 years earlier, I had wanted to visit that garden on the other side of the wall, but her father had talked me out of it, because he wanted me to see things that the Indians were proud of. I told Punita that this time, I'd like to see the garden.

    "What is it with you and Gandhi," she asked, seeming a bit annoyed. "It's like you're obsessed with the man. Gandhi's teeth, the place he got shot...it's all quite morbid. You can go tomorrow when I'm working. Or you can just jump the fence at the party tonight." (By the way, all of the Indian money denominations have portraits of Gandhiji, and everywhere there are statues and portraits, and there are multiple Gandhi museums. So in my defence....)

    That night, before we went to the garden party again, we went far south to an open air market called Dilli Haat, which had handicrafts from all over the country. Miles was quite energized by haggling there, the weather was perfect, and the food they were cooking smelled divine (but we aren't eating off the street, natch).
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