“Every face tells a story” was a quote used by one of our volunteers as we wandered our way through the narrow streets of Old Delhi today. We began with a walking tour of Old Delhi which is the oldest area of Delhi, a tangle of ancient streets and alleyways, filled with all kind of shops selling jewellery, shoes, beautiful saris, and of course food; food is a religion in this city. The narrow gullies of old India have an overwhelming variety of cultures to offer. The heavenly aroma of food literally liberates the taste buds here. The tour guide talked us through Old Delhi architecture which he described as “Mughal architecture” which has plenty of nostalgia and history behind it. He then brought us down through “Chandi Chowk”, the main thoroughfare through Old Delhi, this road is INSANE! Shops and food stalls on the sidewalk, motorbikes, Tuk Tuks and cars blaring their horns and cycle rickshaw drivers insistently offering to take us places “For cheap price…. just 50 rupees!” We all just walked on the road, as unsafe as that sounds, with shopkeepers trying to lure us into their shops of course. All I could think was “this is crazy, this is real Delhi”. The walking tour came to an end at the stunning “Jama Masjid Mosque” and its tower gave us an incredible view of Delhi. We sat on the steps and took it all in as the muezzin played from one of its minarets – this was definitely one of my highlights of the day so far. It was funny to see locals gather around us trying to figure out our accents and “discreetly” take pictures of us. It’s safe to say the locals do love a selfie and a photobomb.
When the tour came to an end, we decided we couldn’t leave Delhi without paying a visit to Red fort, which is named for its massive walls of red sandstone and its proximity to the Salimgarh fort. We took lots of selfies outside, but didn’t go in as we wanted to make the water show at the “Arkshardam Temple”. Ellie, Kayley, Luke and I hopped in a taxi, while the other volunteers went around the red fort and business districts. As we pulled up to the temple, my jaw actually dropped! I couldn’t believe how beautiful it is was from a distance, never mind up close. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to take any photos as they have a very strict policy of no phones and no handbags just a small wallet, but I think that made it that bit more special. Before we could enter the temple, we had to take off our shoes and keep them outside as a sign of respect. As we walked through the grounds we all glanced around in awe – the floors were pristine, the grass was a vibrant green, and the architecture in the main temple was like something you would see in a movie. Blue, white, green and pink diamonds covered all around on the inside of the temple, I can’t put into words how beautiful it was.
We purchased tickets for the light and water show which was taking place on the opposite side of the temple, all I can say is wow. The display was out of this world, the production was absolutely incredible. Luke made a comment about him smiling like a school kid and that’s exactly how I felt it’s safe to say I left with a couple of things ticked off my bucket list.
When we got back to the hotel we all sat around talking about how much we missed being at the schools today, and how excited all the volunteers were to get stuck in with the observations tomorrow. Even though we only have two days left, the amount of progress that has already happened is outstanding. Tomorrow will be a hectic, exciting and productive day and I look forward to working with the second group of schools I was with on Monday.
Contribution from Mary Flynn. Want to read more about our trip – read here!