Yes yes, I am alive...it's been an interesting past few days. Interesting and frustrating--but in my opinion, that is Delhi in a nutshell.
Sunday night I arrived in Delhi late and just went to the hotel. Monday I toured New Delhi (India Gate, Parliament Building & Gov't Buildings--just the outside--Humayun's Tomb, and the Qutab Minar) which was nice and good to see all those things. In the afternoon we crossed over to Old Delhi to visit the Jamma Masjid and Red Fort. I got into a screaming match at the Jamma because this man wanted to show me around and I kindly declined but he persisted. So he followed ME around and then as I was leaving he demanded money. That was fun. The rest of the afternoon was somewhat peaceful until I decided to wander about Connaught Place looking for a little store to buy Coke, etc. from. I have learned the art of saying NO very well. :)
Tuesday morning I lingered in the hotel until noon and then went to the airport for my flight to Varanasi--the City of Learning and Burning. Learning because the Banaras Hindu University is here and Burning because of the cremation ghats. Varanasi is completely dirty and foul. There are hundreds of cows around here which leads to millions of cow pies and goats, and pigs, and kids and trash and on and on and on...The temples are nice alongside the Ganges (which is quite gross itself).
I was taken on an "evening cruise along the Ganges." Okay--my idea of cruise and their idea of cruise: not the same thing! :) I was in this dreadfully small wooden boat with two guys rowing (ROWING!) and my guide. The current is so incredibly strong (of course flowing the opposite way we wanted to go) and at one point our little dingy (sp?) was caught in between two much larger vessels. I saw my life flash before me and said a quick Our Father and beg for forgiveness for dying in the Ganges! :) We finally made it to the place where the priests perform their evening pujas and watched from the water. It was a nice ceremony even though I couldn't understand a word! :)
As we flew down the river back to my hotel, the guide informed me that I had to be up and outside at 5:00 A.M.!!!! "To see the sunrise." Alright. Went to bed around 10, rose diligently at 5:00 and went downstairs. There was no sun. Too many clouds. I was thrilled. Got into another dingy to travel UP the river again to one of the cremation ghats. There I did see a body wrapped in a colorful cloth. Apparently if a body is wrapped in a colorful shroud, it means it is a man who has lived a long time, hence seen all the colors of life. Then we were whisked downstream to the main cremation ghat, where I saw no bodies, but saw the piles of wood and the smoke from the burning.
We set off on foot to "explore" the city. Which really means wind your way in and out of these teeny tiny narrow alleyways, avoiding cow pies, pickpockets and anything else that looks suspicious. We saw lots of temples, and the Banaras Hindu University.
Now I am killing time until I get whisked away to the train station at 9:00 p.m. I am on the overnight train to Agra.