Sunday, November 30, 2008
Here Comes the Groom!
We started out from the hotel and ask the concierge to arrange a car and driver for us for the day, so that we could get around town easily. It was Sunday and the stores are closed but the museums are open.
The concierge said he would get a car for us, that we if anything happened they could trace us. Not exactly reassuring, but as the man said: “Worry is not a Solution”. He drove us to near the Red Fort. For security concerns he couldn’t leave us right at the front of this massive structure. The driver then arranged for a pedal rickshaw to drive us to the entrance to the Red Fort where he would wait for us to then drive us back to the waiter driver and car. We felt weird having hired two separate drivers at the same time (the car driver for the day and the rickshaw driver for the 1 ½ we were in the Red Fort but that is they way they do it in India. You can live large for about 2 dollars an hour!
The Red Fort as you can probably guess is made of red sandstone. Its walls appear to stretch on forever. We are very familiar with the history of the fort from our readings. It brought it alive to see it in person. It was built by the same emperor who built the Taj Mahal (among other things). He was a busy builder. The Mughal emperors ruled from this fort until the British overthrew then in 1857. We hired a great guide in the Fort and he was able to explain lots of things that we would have missed.
From there we went to the Craft Museum. It is a project of the Indian Government to preserve Native crafts. There is an absolutely huge display of textiles, the largest that we have ever seen. There were rooms full of huge wooden carvings, outside there was a craft market. It was well worth the visit. Unfortunately they don’t appear to have a catalog.
From there we returned to the hotel. After a light snack and a drink I had a massage and Cathy had a facial. We then went out to dinner. We thought we would go to a high end restaurant but the concierge convinced us to go to a restaurant in Old Delhi that served Kashmiri food. It was very good and not expensive. It was definitely a good tip. We had a different driver for the night and he waited for us while we ate.
We then asked him to take us back to the Taj. We had only gone a few blocks and I saw a man on white horse being preceded by two rows of 10 men each carrying lit electric candelabras on their head. Each row of men was followed by an electric generator on wheels to give the candelabras electricity. They were preceded by a large band dressed like a high school marching band. People were dancing in the streets! Fireworks were being set off. It meant only one thing: Indian Wedding!
I told the driver to stop the car, Cathy was reluctant but we both got out and started taking some pictures. Then we started to dance! Then we were pulled along and asked to join the procession. Then we were invited into the wedding. Then we were being photographed with the groom. Then Cathy was dancing with 20 men. Then I joined and she was dancing with 21 men. Then they were hugging us, asking where we were from, asking if we had ever been to an Indian wedding, insisting we drink, we eat, we dance. We were exhausted and soaked from dancing. It was amazing. You would have thought we were long lost cousins. Everyone was hugging us, shaking our hands, etc. There must have been 150 guests (of all ages from kids to oldsters). Bhangra (Indian dance music) was playing loudly and everyone was pulsating to the music. About an hour and half later our driver came in, and we thought it was best to go! The one thing (other than the Bhang Lossi) that I was determined to do on this trip was go to an Indian Wedding! It was all that we could have imagined and more!