We had to wake up pretty early to get to the airport which was not the best since I did not sleep well. We woke up to freshly fried dosas (kinda like crepes) with masala dipping sauce for breakfast which we scarfed down before paying for the room and catching our taxi. The flight back to Delhi was interesting only because we were on one of the new 787s and the smartglass on the windows plus the slightly redefined layout were interesting to see. I mostly read the Visni Puri novel and R. read her own.
Once in Delhi we took the taxi back to the Fulbright house and stored my luggage there (though we were later informed we weren’t supposed to do that *shrugs*). We then walked for about ten minutes to the Jantar Mantar which I always wanted to see. It’s a series of observatories which were built in 1724 to examine various celestial phenomenon but it looks like a modern art display. It didn’t take long to visit and disappointingly, you can’t climb up any of the steps you can see. Oh well. From there we caught a rickshaw to do the one other thing I wanted to do while in India – namely, see an Ashokan pillar. I’d been hoping one had been brought to Delhi so I could see one and R. found out where it was. It was over in old Delhi at Feroz Shah Kotla Fort, which was part of a city founded by a Shah in 1354.
We were expecting to explore an old fort and see the pillar. Instead, the place was teaming with people, birds (kites I believe), and smoke. There wasn’t a ticket taker in sight but we were once again the center of attention. I had to hold my breath even to get in since there was a massive fire being burnt right near the front. Once through there, we wandered, admiring how thick the walls were until we found our way to the foot of the building the pillar perched on. It was even more crowded here since everyone had to fit into the ancient walkways and stairs to get anywhere. Opposite it was a mosque which although in ruins was still being used for worship. I had to hold my breath and dash around a lot because in every single alcove they were burning flowers and incense and saying prayers. R. and I were really confused. It also took us awhile to find the steps up to the pillar since they were cleverly hidden. R. bailed out on the lower level so I headed up on my own after actually finding the proper stairs. Once up there, the pillar was amazing to see even if it is a little broken. I liked that someone had carved an elephant into it at some point. The people meanwhile, were tying letters to the pillar, leaving offerings and reaching in to touch it. I was also mobbed by children as I always seemed to be when left alone (kids just really like me, go figure). Once I took their pictures and made my way down, I told R. it was easier to get up then we thought so we went up again. Some cheeky kids kept getting closer and closer to us while we were up there and even poked my bum at one point. *sigh*
We made our way out of there, with me holding my breath and dashing through smoke filled areas, though I figured an asthma attack due to smoke was inevitable at this point (and I was right though it held off until I was on the plane). We headed back to the Fulbright building and in the half hour before my taxi to the airport arrived, looked up what was going on. Turns out my ability to stumble on festivals is ridiculously good. On Thursdays, and only Thursdays, Indian Muslims go to that site to ask the djinn which are thought to inhabit the stones, with the head djinn being in the pillar to grant their wishes. We had a 1 in 7 chance of encountering them but since it was Thursday the 11th, we got in free and got to experience the djinn worship. Turns out it’s a pretty interesting phenomena which only started in 1977 and one of R.’s friend’s friends wrote their Phd thesis on it. Small world, huh?
We said goodbye and I caught my taxi who got me to the airport in good time. Once there, I bought a few more souveniers since I didn’t feel like changing my money and a surprisingly tasty and colourful meal from Curry Kitchen. I managed to get a few hours of sleep on the plane back, which stood me in good stead for the ridiculously long transfer procedure at Shanghai Dupong airport. Our gate was freezing due to improperly closed doors, and even with all my layers just sitting there for an hour and a half waiting for my plane had me shivering. (I couldn’t really buy anything since I only had enough Chinese money left to buy some water.) I watched some of Twin Peaks but kept getting distracted so I was glad when our plane finally loaded. The flight was quick, and I was on the airport train back to my apartment within a half hour of landing. Of course, it was snowing when I got off the subway so I was freezing since I hadn’t been able to pack a winter coat but I rushed home. I took a shower and did my laundry, hoped my sore throat wasn’t an actual cold and went to sleep. Turns out it was a cold (the same one R. got in the last days of our trip, I’d wager) which I am still recovering from, so I’ve spent my time hibernating.
(It took me about two weeks to recover from the cold and the trip in general. Had a great time though.)