That Time I Woke Up In India: These Are Getting Too Long (8.11.2008)

But future entries will be even longer. Apologies.

I woke up fairly early and said goodbye to Mr. Mun who was going to work.  He wished me luck on my journey, and from last night’s conversation, I knew that I would need a lot of it. He had already made arrangements for my transportation for the day (or at least until the train station), so I was extremely grateful. Another day of luxury, probably the last day of luxury before being cast into the hardships of solitary travel in a very foreign country. I was being overly dramatic.

The day started off rather auspiciously. I was able to put in my contacts for once, so I was able to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes from the fiery Delhi sun. Since I only planned to visit Qutb Minar and Connaught Place that day, I started rather leisurely, with a nice Korean breakfast that seemed spicier than usual, probably because of Indian influences.

The taxi driver had been waiting for me for a while, but I didn’t feel as bad as yesterday, since I was getting used to it and he was being paid to wait and chat with the locals. Either that or the feeling of power was getting to my head. Oh well. Maybe someday I’ll be able to maintain this thrill of control. Someday.

The first stop was Qutb Minar, a place that I knew only because the great Amitabh Bachchan did once grace the land with his footsteps when he stepped up to the pillar wrought of nearly pure iron (apparently that’s a big deal, I wouldn’t know, I’m not a metallurgist), wrapped his strong arms around the blazing metal pole and did cry out to the heavens, “I want Sexy back!” No, it’s not a Bollywood rip-off of JT, watch Cheeni Kum and you’ll understand. I won’t elaborate. Go watch the movie yourself. Anyway, so the only thing I knew about Qutb Minar was the iron pillar, which is apparently a scientific mystery, like most things beyond recorded Western history. I was not informed of the main attraction, which is called the Qutb Minar (duh), a huge tower (or minar) that could be seen from a mile away. I was really surprised. I guess that’s what I get for doing extremely poor research. Oh well, I saw it. That’s what counts.

The iron pillar with an Amitabh Bachchan wrapped around it.

The iron pillar with an Amitabh Bachchan wrapped around it.

Yes, I actually didn't know about the thing in the background.

Yes, I actually didn't know about the thing in the background.

I wandered around the ruins, taking pictures and getting a Japanese tourist couple to take my picture. It wasn’t really a good picture, but it was better than no picture at all. I contemplated getting closer to the iron pillar and maybe touching it (it’s supposed to bring you good luck), but then I realized that touching a giant hunk of metal that had been sitting in the Indian sun since the break of dawn would not be the wisest course of action. That and there was a fence and a policeman guarding it. Personally, I don’t think the policeman would’ve minded a stupid tourist trying to touch the really hot pillar. Probably would’ve been a great source of entertainment. I started walking out when I saw a group of Asian tourists in identical clothing, probably on some group bonding exercise. I was about to snicker at them but realized that I wasn’t that different. So I sulked.

I was getting rather thirsty and forgot to pack a water bottle that day, so I bought one outside the entrance to Qutb Minar. As I crossed the road, I realized that I hadn’t checked whether the bottle cap was intact. You’re supposed to do that, since sometimes dishonest vendors will refill empty bottles with tap water. It may seem paranoid, but it’s better than getting a waterborne disease, no? I looked carefully past the plastic seal (yeah, I should’ve realized that something with an intact seal should be safe, but no, I had to check. Smart) and realized that the bottle cap didn’t seem to be fully secure. I slowly twisted the cap, listening for the comforting ‘snap’ that can be heard from a brand-new bottle. I didn’t really hear it due to the rustling of the seal so I got really worried. I saw my immediate future, me throwing up on the train to Agra, me locked up in a bathroom in Agra, me dying of dehydration in Agra, thanks to a bottle of water. How ironic.

Now, I had only been traveling in the “Indian” parts of Delhi, so Mrs. Mun suggested that I go to Sakhet Citywalk, an indoor shopping mall that would rekindle my hope that India was indeed catching up to Western countries. Naturally, I was intrigued and told the taxi driver to take me there. However, when the driver pulled over at an outdoor outlet mall (which was technically in Sakhet). My hope was not rekindled. I asked him if this place was the Citywalk, and he said offhandedly that yes, it was the City Mall. Crap. Misunderstood directions. Oh well, might as well have a look. The mall had a nice multiplex-type cinema, a Bennigan’s (which have apparently died out in America), and other Western niceties. It was developed, yes, but not the air-conditioned indoor modern wonder that I was hoping for. Oh well, it was nearing lunchtime and I didn’t really want to spend time looking for a nice shopping mall. Oh well, I’ll visit it next time I’m in Delhi.

I called the driver to pick me up from the not-Citywalk, then instructed him to take me to Connaught Place. Now, I didn’t really know what Connaught Place was like, so I imagined it was a circular street with trendy shops lining the sides. It was sort of like that, I guess, but not quite as chic as I imagined, and of course, covered with pigeons and littered. Oh well, this wasn’t the Champs-Elysees. As we went around the circle, I noticed a Nike store and made a mental note to check it out to see if there were any India-specific shirts that I could flaunt around. After my purchase of a rather stylish Nike Paris shirt in (gasp) Paris, I had tried to find similar Nike items around the world. Or at least in the parts that I visited (and also had Nike stores). Sadly, the Paris thing seemed to be a one-city deal. I had hoped that Delhi would prove me wrong. But first, lunch.

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