India 2008 # 6: Maharaja Burgers and Mosque Minarets

Monday, we had another crack at going to Tibetan Row at Janpath. We ended up in a shop that was piled high with different brass objects. I think you could sit there for an entire day and still not see every item they have. Ernie saw a neat Galaxy system thingy made of brass, I found yet another animal-shaped padlock and some vertical prayer flags (damned hard to find in New Zealand) and we pulled ourselves out of there before taking out a mortgage was necessary. We risked life and limb and crossed the road to MacDonalds. None of us would go there normally, but they have air-con, toilets with actual doors on and safe-to-drink ice in their lemonades (I hope). Maharaja burgers are actually quite nice and I haven’t had anything with lettuce in it for quite a while so I was a happy camper.

Tuesday, we took the metro then rickshaws and went to the Jama Masjid (the largest Mosque in India). I obviously didn’t pack my brain before we left to go there, because I was wearing a scarf that had Om signs all over it. Not at all Islamic and not the sort of thing to be seen in at a mosque. Duh!

We had to leave our shoes with some guy who stuffed them into a tin trunk then enter the gate into the very large courtyard. Barefoot, stinking hot day, large open space with hot tiles – you get the picture. We were only there for ten minutes and they pushed us out the side gate because prayers were starting. Not being Muslim, we had to wait outside – bare feet, hot flagstones… About three quarters of an hour later they let us back in again. Still, in the meantime we got to watch an ear cleaning man in action (gross!) and a couple of mongooses (mongeese?) making little mongeeses. An unexpected surprise. India is so delightfully variable.

When they let us back in, we climbed up one of the minarets to look at the view. These minarets are incredibly high. There are no escalators, only spiraling steps up and up and up in a fairly dark passage. Still, the view was worth not being able to catch our breath for ten minutes. Pretty dodgy though. There’s only room for a few people at the top and the staircase kind of cuts a large hole in the floor, so you have to watch where you stand or else you’d find yourself descending the spiraling staircase in a way not conducive to having all of one’s bones intact at the bottom. More and more people kept appearing up there until we were all so jammed in the cage that we couldn’t turn around to get back down the stairs again. Something a little wrong with that system. When we did get back down though, it was funny to look back up and see all those people jammed up there. God forbid there be an earthquake while you’re in that situation. Yet another rapid descent system…

Okay, next bit or the story is about yet another bus ride, so I’ll do that later, as I don’t trust the internet system here.

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