Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Day 1 in New Delhi, India

Day 1 in New Delhi, India

I woke up @ 6AM, I just could not sleep any longer, and the time change had hold of my body. Breakfast was huge and almost too much to choose from and I had that at 8 AM. Our first tour started at 12.30 PM, so what do I do?

Not much could be seen from our hotel compound, the walls, the greenery, and the gardens all blocked off the daily life. I felt like a nightingale in the golden cage. I tried to explore the beautiful looking garden that surrounded the hotel structure, I even saw a herb garden, all prim and properly labeled, but the smell when the gardeners used human manure drove me back to the lobby.

I met some people in our group there and Fiona, our permanent guide, along with her husband Gary, introduced themselves and then at 1.00 PM we started our first bus tour. The local guide, a female by
Prithy Our Local Guide
the name of Prithy (the name means “Love”) met us wearing a beautiful sari. Her English was excellent, her demeanor and looks were even better. She wore a large ‘bindi’ (red dot on forehead, indicating a married woman) even though, she told us, she is not married. Prithy feels the bindi protects her from unwanted advances from certain males. Her first tour showed us the old British layout of New Delhi, the important old British buildings, now used as Government offices made a very impressive view. Everything about New Delhi in the previous British area, is done on a very grand, almost pompous scale. Fountains, parks, treed avenues, lanes and streets all are splendid. Even the private living quarters of the common, British subjects were stunning. Naturally all those installations are dated today, the British Empire Style not being in vogue any longer; still it’s an impressive display of wealth.
Former British Area of New Delhi

To lay the ground work for our understanding of India, Prithy gave us a general overview of India’s history. Here is some general, basic Indian history that puts things in perspective:

India first became significant to the Western world when Alexander the Great in about 326 BC won the Battle of Hydaspes. Trade and communication were opened, ideas were swapped. Not much happened after that until about the 8th Century when Northern India was overrun by Islam coming from Afghanistan. India was an assortment of tribes, clans, families or kingdoms: thousands of them. Some were large, most rather small. Nepal is one of those left over old Kingdoms. So is Bhutan, so was Tibet, etc. All practicing a religion we today call Hinduism. Hinduism has many facets. Just like Christianity has many “sects” (Catholic, Protestant, Baptists, Greek Orthodox, Latter Day Saints –Mormon (LDS), Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc., etc., so does Hinduism have various sects or spin offs. Some even believe that Buddhism is a form of Hinduism.

There was a constant tension among those early Kingdoms all vying for a top spot. There used to be a lot of infighting, too. Each Kingdom had a warrior class and they had to be kept busy. In fact it was very similar to early European history, when I look back to Germany or any other European country around the year 700.

All of this this ended when Islam started to spread. After Islam spread into what is today Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, the newly united Afghan tribes, united under Islam, overran the smallish Indian kingdoms. The Afghans, in the name of Allah, conquered and plundered. Plundered Northern India first, and then moved steadily southward. The smallish kingdoms of India had no chance against the marauding advances of Afghans. The invaders were ruthless, brutal and cruel. The Khanate of Timor the Terrible, also known as Tamerlane and his descendants were of importance during that time. The Afghan period of invasion of India (700 to 1500) brought forth total conquest. The whole social structure of India was affected and even though Hinduism survived, it was mostly supplanted by Islam. Indian life after those damaging, looting years was changed forever. Many ideas that flourished before were now over-ruled and guided by underlying Islamic principles. Arranged marriages are just one example. No education for women. The whole view of women in society was reshaped. While before there were female priests, now only men could rule. The Afghan, Islamic conquest of India was disastrous. The Afghans destroyed, they did not rebuild. They raped and pillaged. They only took without regard for the misery they left behind.
Islamic Cultural Centre

The rebuilding, the ripping down and then replacing with new or better structures was left to the Persians (Iran) who replaced, even drove out the Afghans after the year 1500. The invention of gun powder, cannons and rifles helped here tremendously.  When I say Persians I really mean the Mongols. Ah, yes, history tells you a lot of things. Remember Attila the Hun? Remember Genghis Khan, the Golden Hordes? The real rulers of Persia around 1500 were the Mongols (Mogul, Mughal) who conquered Persia during the times of the Golden Hordes (1220 AD). The ruling classes in Persia were the Khans. The word khanate means a Khan is in charge, a Khan is a Mongol chief, a Mongol King, an Emperor. In translation the word has changed from Mongol to Mogul. Yes, all the Indian Moguls were pure Mongols. They were proud to be Non-Indian, Asiatic looking with slanted eyes. Are you surprised? I was! I never thought the Mongols ruled India, but they sure did. And those Mongols were Islamic, too, in a more “refined” sort of Islamic way. Smarter it seems, more artistic. These Moguls built palaces, showed splendor and introduced changes but were more benefactors, rather than thieves.
Modern Former British Area

India had many Empires rule over her. Europeans tried to conquer, the Portuguese, the French, the Dutch and lastly the British. India was called the crown jewel in the crown of Queen Victoria. “Great” Britain made most of her money with the products she took from India. Sure they built roads, installed forts, brought law to the masses, dictated the way to do business, built a railroad, etc., etc. but only in their own self-interest. Roads made it easier to transport items out of India. Trains could do it in greater quantity. The British tried to re-educate the masses here, tried to install a Christian outlook into things but India is India. Just go ahead, try to tell an Indian person not to walk barefooted. Just try to tell them to not eat such spicy food. They will smile at you, say yes and go on doing their own thing. All the conquerors have learned that lesson.
Often Saw 3 People on a Motorcycle

India has her own traffic rules, too. Do I understand them? No, but somehow, it all works.

Our first day in New Delhi was an introduction to this country. Thank you Prithy for your comments, I learned a lot.

Again 3 People on a Motorcycle

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