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    All These Colors Tour: India Part 48

    Wednesday, October 31, 2012
    Delhi, India

    Spice Man is ready to tickle your tastebuds in Paharganj, Delhi, India.

    Just a small part of the massive New Delhi train station, India.

    Shredded flyers adorn the bridge over the New Delhi train station, India.

    Making my first foray into the rustic charms of Old Delhi, I dove right into the unbelievably congested main street of Chowri Bazaar, with Jama Masjid being my eventual destination. The amount of traffic–mostly motorcycles, bicycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws and pedestrians–was off the charts. Someone got in my way–and vice versa–literally every few seconds. No less than three or four times, I had to palm the front of a frantically darting motorcycle that almost ran right into me. One of them even accidentally tapped my right leg with his front wheel. I lost count of how many times a rickshaw bumped against my side.

    A hectic traffic jam on Chowri Bazaar in Old Delhi, India.

    Gnarled power lines rule this scene on Chowri Bazaar in Old Delhi, India.

    Every street was completely blanketed by small shops covered with a blizzard of garish signs–half of them visually obliterated by time, weather and tangles of gnarled power lines hanging in unruly clusters. At one intersection, one of several young guys hanging out in a shop smiled at me. As I asked him which way Jama Masjid was, I dropped one of my earplugs into a gutter full of disgusting refuse and scary-looking liquids. Annoyed, I just pulled out the other one and threw it in there. A few blocks later, I finally saw the huge domes of the Jama Masjid in the hazy distance.

    A view from the inside looking out at all of the chaos on Chowri Bazaar in Old Delhi, India.

    A rear view of the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi, India.

    As the setting sun hung low in the sky, I made my way around the block surrounding the complex and became filled with awe at scads of shops and sidewalks completely and utterly stuffed with grime-covered auto parts–mufflers, brakes, engines, etc.–and men banging away on them. Built in 1644 by Shah Jahan–the same man who designed the Taj Mahal–the Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India., capable of holding a staggering 25,000 people. After I hiked up the large staircase on the South side and removed my shoes, I was dismayed to find that there was a $6.00 entry fee for tourists. I balked at that, put my shoes back on, and just wandered around outside shooting photos of the mosque and all of the supreme chaos surrounding it.

    A man sits in a ragged treehouse near the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi, India.

    Looking East from the stairs of the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi, India.

    I was particularly taken by one old guy sitting in a pile of rubbish inside a huge, gnarled tree. He probably lives there. On the East side of the mosque, I spied a smoldering pile of something or another belching a bunch of smoke skyward next to a couple of large slabs of stone covered with children’s scribbles. That scene just cried out to be captured on video. As sunset neared, I headed back down to Chowri Bazaar and descended into a subway stop, where I was greeted by some crazy long lines to buy a token. Then I had to get my messenger bag x-rayed. What do they think this is? The airport? Surprisingly, there was actually some standing room on the subway itself, which blew me away. I figured it was sardine time all the time here in Delhi. I ended the night in fine fashion with some of the Brown Bread Bakery’s fine pasta and baguette slices.

    Looking up at the Main Gate of the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi, India.

    Smoke and mirrors near the Main Gate of the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi, India.

    Henna tattoos all around! Main Bazaar, Paharganj, Delhi, India.

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

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