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    All These Colors Tour: India Part 50

    Friday, November 2, 2012
    Delhi, India

    The main entrance to the Red Fort in Old Delhi, India.

    A random pair I met for just a second at the Red Fort in Old Delhi, India.

    A close-up of the red sandstone walls at the Red Fort in Old Delhi, India.

    An afternoon haze blankets the buildings of the Red Fort in Old Delhi, India.

    I finally woke up in the morning, which gave me ample time to make it out to maybe one touristy sightseeing spot. I chose the Red Fort, because it’s a half mile away from the Chandni Chowk subway stop, which is only two stops away from the New Delhi train station near my hotel. (The Red Fort was built back in 1838 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan–the same guy who built the Taj Mahal and the Jama Masjid.) As I emerged from the underground, I was greeted by a veritable cyclone of humanity and vehicles flitting about in every possible direction. Ensconced in titters from all of the mounting excitement, I slowly walked down the main street, called Chandni Chowk, occasionally standing out on a fenced median to shoot photos and videos of this turbulent river of traffic. As I neared the Red Fort complex, aggressive souvenir and transport touts began to pounce, but I completely ignored them all from the get-go, which is always the path of least resistance. At the ticket window, I had to fork over 250 rupees, while Indians paid 20. I guess that means I’m 12 times more wealthy.

    Sprawling arches at the Red Fort in Old Delhi, India.

    A squirrel's eye view of the Red Fort in Old Delhi, India.

    A typical over-the-top scene on Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, India.

    A woman in a color-soaked sari stands on Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, India.

    Under an extremely hazy afternoon sky, I proceeded through the huge red sandstone entrance gate. Although a lot of people were milling about, the vast size of the complex offered everyone plenty of room to walk at full stride. I pretty much just strolled around and clicked off a few photos and videos, and captured a vivid field recording of some guys demolishing a gigantic concrete water tower with sledgehammers. I don’t know why, but whenever I visit a really touristy spot like this, a bunch of Indian people always try to take a photo of me, and today was no different. (They rarely ever do that out on the streets.) Some tried to be sly and snap one from a distance, while others walked up fairly close and aimed a cell phone right toward me. Very few–maybe only a couple–approached me and asked permission. But, I pretty much dodged almost all of them with my hand or hat.

    Some scenic chaos goes down on Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, India.

    Another torn flyer on the bridge over the New Delhi train station, India.

    Yummy veggie lasagne and baguette slices at the Brown Bread Bakery in Paharganj, Delhi, India.

    I passed by one girl who was being photographed by her guy friend. When I glanced at her, she nodded at me, so I busted out my camera to take a quick photo, when suddenly, the guy she was with jumped into the frame. Argh! I’ve been hoping to take one portrait of an Indian woman all dressed up in a colorful sari, but I’ve never met one at the right time and place. After a couple of hours, I had my fill of the Red Fort. It’s a pretty nice place with some scenic views, but it definitely lacks the elegant beauty and grandeur of the Taj Mahal. Upon exiting, I found my way back through the broiling fustercluck of traffic activity that clogs Chandni Chowk, marveling at all of the shambling buildings the whole way. As I stood in a crowd and aimed my lens straight into the frenzy going down out in the street, a guy pinched me on the arm and made a camera motion with his hands–twice. He must have wanted me to take a photo of him for money. Completely puzzled, because he looked so normal, I just walked away into the never-ending web of surging crowds, food carts, beggars sitting on the ground, and strangely decorated Hindu and Muslim temples–all of it coated in dust and grime, like some strange, dirty dream.

    Roll over photos for captions.
    Words and photos ©2012 Arcane Candy.

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