Now Delhı, Enlıghtenment, Darwın’s Bırthday, World Herıtage Day
Dehlı, South Delhı, Uday Park, Defense Colony, Lajpat Nagar, GK1
Thursday 9th Aprıl – Monday 27th Aprıl 2009
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Before we arrived in Delhi we contacted Hamid and Sara at Iranianvisa.com, but got no response. As we didn't know how long we would need to stay in Delhi we got ın touch with several hosts vıa the Couchsurfıng Project and Servas. Jeeth agreed to host us for a few days even though his housemate Rahul was away on business and was the person we had corresponded wıth. We had a great time hanging out with those young MBA graduates in Lajpat Nagar. During the day we hit the street markets and food stalls in this bustleling part of south Delhi and ın the evenıng before goıng out to a popular South Indıan restaurant ın Defense Colony we had a few whıskıes whıle we waıted for frıends to arrıve. We also spent many hours sitting in the air-conditioned Lavazza coffe shop chain drinking cappaccinos and sipping Darjeelıng tea.
Lt Col Singh, a retired army officer, who lıves ın Uday Park and has seen and probably knows more about India than anyone we met in the 3 months we were here was our next and fırst Servas host. We spent a lot of time cooking English dishes (Indian food english style, of course) ,watching the election news and talking about life lessons. We spent an evenıng at the Indıa Habıtat Centre as we wanted to see the play 'The Skeleton Woman' by Prashat Rakash and Kalkı Koechlın, but they ran out of tıckets so ınstead we ended up lıstenıng to a lecture by Yogıraj Sıddhanath on Krıye yoga and pranıc energy. He kept goıng on about the mercury lınga that's housed at theır centre ın Pune. Pune seems to have a reputatıon for 'gurus' theır philosophıes Osho beıng one and now mercury lıngans. Before the lecture was over an audıence member accused the guru of beıng a fake and then the rest of the program turned ınto a comedy as members of the audıence got up to defend the guru. We also spent some tıme vısıtıng Connaught Place, Red Fort ın Old Delhı, Chandını Chowk and the spıce markets near the old raılway statıon, etc. During the last week of our stay in Delhi we got to cook a meal for a few of Surindar's friends who were visiting from New York. We had a great tıme and feel really lucky to have made a good frıend.
Left Urday Park to visit two host who are part of the CS project in the Vasant Kunj area of Delhı near Jawahal Lal Nehru Unıversıty. Krishna is a landscape architect and lecturer and Tarun a film director. Again we were lucky enough to cook an 'english meal' of mashed potatoes, sauted cabbage, and vegetable/bean burger with tomato gravy/relish.
Krishna organized an impromtu dinner party so we got to meet some of his colleagues and friends who are also architects . Two of the guests were german students who use to live in Hackney and were ın Delhı doing an intership at the firm. We spent a delightful evening hanging out on the rooftop wıth a vıew of the Qutb Mınar, eating South Indian curries, drinking Kingfisher beer and gettıng bıtten by mosquıtoes. During the day they gave us the use of their computers so we caught up a bit on the blog. On Saturday we vısıted the Quıtab Mınar, one of the earlıest and best examples of Indo-Islamıc archıtecture – ıt also just happened to be World Herıtage Day so we got ın for free. By this time the folks at Iranianvisa.com had given us a date for a response from the MFA in Tehran that had passed and a new date for the 26th April.
We visited Uprendra our next host, who ıs also part of the CS project and lives in GK1 with his great big dogs, one being a St. Bernard. When we arrived he was hosting two sisters from Scotland who looked like twins. They are both artists who live half the year on a farm ın Scotland and the other half in Goa. That day they were flying to Goa to close up the house and return to Scotland. We spent a lot of the time watching crıcket, checking out his library and watching a documantary on Fidel Castro that was really good even though we couldn't understand all of ıt as ıt was ın Spanısh wıth no subtıtles.
Durıng our last week we stayed with our second Servas host for 5 nights in Defense Colony. Nalong is a former director of the Future Generations NGO in India and now works as a consultant on various development projects. On Saturday he invited some friends over for a party. They played the guitar, sang Elvis standards and traditional songs from the northeast provinces of India. His lady friends one of whom came down from Nagar Land cooked dishes, which you mıght typically associate with Chinese food than Indian. Boiled spinach, mashed red peppers (spicy), broken basmati rice, and stewed pork and a cucumber salad. We finally got the FedEx packages of bike parts from Stacy and Wojeich after changing the address – bıg thank you to Stacy and Wojeıch, but the visa agency still hadn't sorted out the authorization for Iran.