It took me 27 hours to fly from Seattle, through Germany to New Delhi. And unfortunately for me, I landed at 9am. I met Maggie at our hotel, as well as Nitish, the groom and Maggie’s former roommate from their days in Spain. We immediately left for a salon to get a bit of pampering in before the first wedding ceremony the following evening.
We met Nitish’s fiancé Kamala and her friend Nandana at a nearby spot for lunch and I got my first taste of Indian food in India. It was really good!
Nitish drove us around the first day, explaining to us that there are two rules of traffic in India.
1. Everybody is mad.
2. Pedestrians are insects.
Well, this should end well for all of us! I’m pretty sure we got into at least 5 fender benders during our stay in this country, but usually the drivers just yell at each other and move on. After our first day expereinces, Maggie refused to sit in the front seat again.
That night we were supposed to go to Kamala’s to learn the dance we would be performing in one of the ceremonies, but I was so tired from flying for so long and being up all day, I passed out at 8pm and Maggie went on without me. The next morning, Maggie and I decided to check out the Qutub Minar, a UNESCO World Heritage site, before more wedding guests (and friends of Maggie’s, of course) arrived in the afternoon.
We rented headsets for a self-guided tour of the site. They are very informative, but occasionally hard to understand. I recommend it, but know that you probably won’t get to everything unless you have all day to spend here. There’s a lot of information they covered!
The Qutub Minar was originally commissioned in 1199 (depending on who you ask) but has been damaged by earthquakes and lightning over the years and gone through many repairs. The original purpose isn’t clear, but the buildings around it include the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque (the first mosque in India), some tombs and the replacement top to the minar (the original was destroyed by lightning) built in the early 1800’s by the British. After much debate and criticism, it was removed and now sits on the grounds off to the side.
The minar and other nearby buildings are made of red sandstone and covered in the writings of the Qur’an. The detail is incredible and beautiful.
This was our first experience as tourists in India and we soon found out that locals like to hang out at the popular attractions to take pictures of and with us foreigners. It was a really weird but funny experience at first, but it soon turned into a much greater annoyance. As soon as you agree to have your picture taken, others queue up to get one as well and you are no longer able to enjoy the visit. We felt bad at first saying no, but they can be very aggressive about it so you have to be firm and walk away.
I think Maggie was over me taking her picture at this point. Fortunately for her, it was time to head back to meet everyone else and go shopping for our saris. Then we were off to the first ceremony. More on that coming your way next time!