The aftermath of the Indian wedding hit me like a bitch slap around 4 AM, when my stomach suddenly refused to digest the embarrassing amount of food I devoured.

I had never been sick in my life for overfeeding. Before.

Woke up not so fresh the morning after, had breakfast with the newly weds and left them to finally explore the ever-so-anticipated Jim Corbett’s National Park, home of bengal tigers, elephants… and several other things that we never had the chance to put our eyes on since every tour was sold out. Apparently we should have booked one something like 48 days earlier… What we got offered instead didn’t sound very much appealing : a trip on the same street we came from where “You will certainly see some wildlife, MAYBE”. Mmmmh, no thank you.

Embittered by the nonsense of this news, we checked in our shabby river cabins and went for a walk nearby. Nothing particularly remarkable happened that day and the highlight was reached when we went out for dinner and, on the way back to our accommodation, we found ourselves locked out with nobody to be seen.

DELHI (Days 7 and 8)

5.40 AM alarm on the following morning. After searching for our driver for a long while and eventually found him sleeping like a log in the car, we left the national park and made our way to Delhi. 6 hours later we spotted the first views of the city outskirts:  insane traffic jams, mountains of trash and multitudes of beggars. An absurd level of pollution made it completely impossible to spot the sun in the sky in an otherwise sunny day. As much as we could see that coming, it still felt quite overwhelming.

We reached our destination, the almost obsessively  sterile looking Bloomrooms (don’t get me wrong: I loved every OCD detail of it!), caught our breath for a minute, wore lighter clothes and tried to make the most of the afternoon ahead of us. As a first pick we decided to explore Chandni Chowk, aka moonlight square, a busy market in the heart of Old Delhi. Which was made possible by a full blast airconditioning underground ride, that had to remind me of Shanghai. Well, the market’s chaos lived up to its messy reputation and could easily be defined by these two words: sensory overload. Deep fried samosas, spices, chewable tobacco, fabrics of every sort, fruit and veggies, barbers, florists, ladies piling up cow poop in the sun as combustible… Maybe a bit too much for Tobi, who suddenly started to wander like a headless chicken and demanded to find a face mask ASAP.

I personally found its colours, variety and general buzz absolutely charming. For the first time in days, I let my guard off, snapped a few shots and I felt like I could (almost) embrace it.

We took a glimpse of the Red Fort and moved on to the muslim area and Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, right in time to marvel at the surreal hazy view of the city at sunset from one of its minarets.

We grabbed a tuk-tuk back to the hostel and, for once, didn’t get ripped off, took a quick shower and had some more yummy curries, right in time to meet Ankur, our Delhi based friend, who gifted us with the best evening private tour of New Delhi we could possibly think of. Including: Connaugh Place, the multi centric shopping area and financial hub, a stop at Kaleva, a traditional sweets shop, where we tried several varieties of sugary, silver wrapped, delicacies,  the monumental Indian Gate and its absolutely not-Indian-looking “ice cream” boulevard. My favourite stop was Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, one of the most prominent Sikh houses of worship. We took our shoes off, got blown away by the golden details of the gurudwara and hypnotised by the beating drums and melodic chants of the worshippers.

New Delhi has such a different vibe, compared to its older counterpart: polished, colonial and very much European.

We finally made it to bed at 1 AM and woke up the morning after to another surprise: Nagar had left without any notice. Yet again a plot twist. But somehow, this time around, none of us turned out to be really upset or surprised. That’s India, babes.

We spent the morning involuntarily posing with swarms of hyper enthusiastic students while trying to explore Humayun’s Tomb, the less celebrated yet very impressive architectural predecessor of Taj Mahal. Isa and her red hair proved to be incredibly popular…

 

Olympus OM1, Zuiko 50 f/1.4, Fuji Superia 200

25-26/11/2017, Delhi, India

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March 15, 2019

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