01 Apr - 09 Apr 2015 Delhi

Indian Epilogue in Paharganj 
Matt: Wrapping up my recent travels to India, the world's biggest democrazy, a South Asian mishmash composed of dirt, spice, mind, snot, ignorance, karma, pollution, bliss, swamp, nukes, discrimination and egos, and exploring the 17th-century CE maze of decaying Old Delhi, the congested and most frenetic heart of the subcontinent's sprawling capital.

“Once through this ruined city did I pass
I espied a lonely bird on a bough and asked
‘What knowest thou of this wilderness?’
It replied: I can sum it up in two words: Alas, Alas!
(Khushwant Singh)

Matt: Checking in at the highly recommendable budget hotel Smyle Inn +911123584076 in Paharganj (see also our previous stays there: [1], [2]), setting up camp for the final week of my just finished 5-month tour of Incredible India (from the filthy Cow Belt [1], [2], [3], [4], [5] via liberal Goa [1], [2] to colourful Rajasthan [1], [2], [3], [4]), meeting up with old and new friends, catching up on tons of overdue admin work (emails, travel blog and on-line photo albums) and preparing my upcoming second trip to Nepal which has eight of the world's ten tallest mountains, including the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest.

Matt: Practising instant rapport-building skills, both verbally and non-verbally, in Old Delhi and having fascinating encounters with real people in the neighbourhood of Shah Jahan's great 17th-century CE mosque, the Jama Masjid, a wonderful piece of Mughal pomp which attracts all sorts of big-hearted Indians: devotees, sadhus, hawkers, dealers, buyers, addicts, beggars, cripples, crooks and oddballs; thank you, friends.

“A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth…”
(Richard Avedon)

Matt: Watching people in Paharganj from the safety of my magic hood and distinguishing, amongst many other tribal identities, (i) hard-working momo vendors from Nepal, (ii) beautiful slant-eyed hookers from Assam, (iii) corpulent fake sadhus from Madhya Pradesh, (iv) clever flying-carpet merchants from Kashmir, (v) sinewy cycle-rickshaw coolies from Bihar, (vi) perky young wannabe Old Asia Hands from Israel, (vii) big-bearded and turbaned gentle giants from Punjab, (viii) heavily-armed photo tourists in camouflage outfit from Red China, (ix) lathi-swinging cops in cheapish and unironed uniforms from Delhi and (x) dust-mask protected pilgrim women from Sri Lanka, in the press of thousands upon thousands of exotic characters in Delhi's crowded streets.

"The face is a picture of the mind with the eyes as its interpreter.”
(Marcus Tullius Cicero)

"Delhi was full of riches and horrors: it was a labyrinth, a city of palaces, an open gutter, filtered light through a filigree lattice, a landscape of domes, an anarchy, a press of people, a choke of fumes, a whiff of spices."
(William Dalrymple)

Matt: Breaking camp, saying my good-byes to Delhi, India's official capital of pollution (regardless of Agra's bragging rights), riding the smooth, speedy and almost space-age Airport Express Link from its New Delhi Subway Station to Terminal 3 of Delhi’s modern Indira Gandhi International Airport (c. 20 km, ½ hour, INR 100.- per person), flying uneventfully with the Indian budget carrier IndiGo Airlines ("Go, IndiGo"; quite famous for one of its flight captains, a Ms. Parminder Kaur Gulati, who used forged papers to obtain an air transport pilot license, after failing the test as many as seven times, and landed nose-first at Goa International Airport, damaging the landing gear and putting the aircraft at risk of disintegration) in a clean Airbus A 320-200 from Delhi back to to Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport for INR 4,331.- or US$ 70.- per person, one way and all inclusive, booked with MakeMyTrip on the internet in November 2014, changing in mid-air my watch from India Standard Time (GMT/UTC + 5:30 hours) to the peculiar Nepali Time (GMT/UTC + 5:45 hours), buying an extendable 30-day single-entry tourist visa on arrival for Nepal (requirements: application form, one photo, US$ 40.- in cash) from the airport's friendly immigration guys, a straightforward and painless process without any hassle, and taking thereafter a local bus from the bus stop near Kathmandu's airport straight to medieval Bhaktapur (c. 30 km, ¾ hours, NPR 20.- per person).

Die letzte Woche meiner Indienreise habe ich in der Riesenstadt Delhi verbracht. Hier leben viele Millionen Menschen auf engstem Raum unter sehr schlimmen Umweltverhaeltnissen: Luft und Wasser sind extrem schmutzig, zum Atmen und Trinken kaum mehr geeignet, und der Erdboden ist meistens zubetoniert oder voellig vermuellt, so dass Pflanzen kaum noch wachsen. Von Natur kann schon lange nicht mehr die Rede sein…
Es liegt in der Verantwortung eines jeden einzelnen, unsere Umwelt zu erhalten: "Es gibt nichts Gutes, ausser man tut es…" (Erich Kaestner). Und es gibt viel zu tun. - Was, ganz konkret, tut Ihr auf Eurer Farm in Ontario, um (i) die Luft und das Wasser sauber und frisch zu halten, (ii) den Boden gesund und natuerlich zu erhalten und (iii) die Artenvielfalt der Tiere und Pflanzen zu behueten?
From India, with Love!

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