India - Day 8
The day began with a leisurely breakfast and a choice of either a typical Indian breakfast, or some Western cuisine. After eating only highly spicy foods for over a week, we were all hankering after flavours and foods we were used to at home. The choice was a welcome change.Our suitcases were loaded onto the bus, and our friendly tour guide Vishal began telling us about the history and culture of Delhi, India's national capital, which represents every aspect of Indian society, as we drove towards Old Delhi. The contrast between the old and the new was obvious! The best way to experience the heart of Old Delhi was by bicycle drawn rickshaws.
The best way to describe Old Delhi is it's like the Fremantle Markets on a massively enormous scale. Thousands of businesses of every kind, located in streets of their kind. First stop was Chandi Chowk where all the sweet shops were. It was almost morning tea time, which was a good enough reason to sample some delicious wares including barfi. Various merchants were beginning to get ready for lunch and delicious aromas had begun to fill the air. We also saw the flower markets, the spice shops, fruit and vegetables of all kinds, a merchant selling rabdi and a long line of men congregated and ready for manual labour.
We made our way back to the rickshaws, for a tour through the heart of the area. Somehow everyone avoids colliding with each other on this surreal dance floor - but only just. The array of stalls is incredible - brass goods, wedding dress trimmings, beads, saris, bangles, shoes, silver goods, marble, jewellery - if you can imagine it, it'll be there somewhere!
After lunch was the drive to Agra. We arrived well after dark, and after unloading our suitcases and finding our rooms we made our way down to the dining area for our "Last Supper". We were in a jubilant mood as we dined on a sumptuous meal in luxury after experiencing the conditions of the poorest of the poor. The evening was rounded out with a time of deep sharing. Many tears were shed as we talked about the work God has done in us - hearts renewed, souls restored, visions enlarged. But we weren't at the end of the trip yet! The best of India had been saved for the last day.