Thanks Mr Bashir, until we meet again!

After our dinner on third night in Delhi (2D 3N since arrival night) we managed to take pictures with Mr Bashir’s family. Seen here from left: Mubashir, Showkat, Az, Ilyani, Ammi (Mr Bashir’s sister who is staying in the US and was currently back home for wedding) and his niece. They are Kashmiri family but the men live here in New Delhi running their business, and go back to Kashmir regularly to see their wife and kids. It was fun to talk to them especially when we were heading to Kashmir after this, so we got to get alot of help and info regarding Kashmir from them.

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Dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya

Image is Googled. It’s located in Nizamuddin area, the same area with Nizamuddin Tabligh markaz we ended up visiting earlier today after meeting the Tabligh man we met in Qutub minar. Yet, we recall Mr Bashir’s nephew Mubashir told us there are two significant religious places in Nizamuddin, and the one Mr Bashir goes is the ‘Sufi’ one. Either way, we didnt have any image in our mind what those two places look like, until today. Since the tabligh markaz was nothing like the images of photos I had googled on Nizamuddin before, so it became the “other” Nizamuddin place. Now we’re visiting the Nizamuddin Dargah with Mr Bashir, which is perfectly the complement of our Nizamuddin places-to-see.

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Nizamuddin Markaz

How to get there: easiest way would be take auto-rickshaw. Cant tell how much because we had a friend paid for us (from Qutub Minar)
Auto-rickshaw from Nizamuddin to South Extension II: Rs. 20
McDonalds at South Extension II: Filet o Fish Rs.150, Sundae Rs.40, Veggie burger Rs.70

At the small mosque in Qutub Minar, where we went to separate sections to perform prayers, I finished earlier and waited for Az outside. He took longer than he should, and when I realized, he came out talking with a few men dressing in long kurta. They are Tabligh people who are currently stationed at this mosque. Az told them that he too was planning to visit Nizamuddin Markaz in New Delhi, which he heard from a friend in KL. Suddenly those men became too excited knowing that we knew their markaz and were interested in visiting, and in such a hurry, they offered to bring us all the way to there. We know that it was not near, and taking rickshaw all the way would be expensive when we ourselves took Metro and walked to come to Qutub Minar. One of the men, whom we recklessly forgot his name but his face is well remembered, offered to accompany us. In between curious yet feeling bad, we followed him. He didnt speak English but only using his mix of South Indian language, sign language and facial expression, he managed to communicated with us efficiently and instantly became a friend.

We watched him bargaining hard with one rickshaw driver, and while we didnt understand any word spoken between them, we noticed that the driver refused to give discount (maybe the Tabligh guy bargained too cheap? Not sure either) but we still took that rickshaw and moved towards Nizamuddin. On our way, the Tabligh guy tried to speak something and crack jokes to soothe the driver and maybe consider his bargain price, but the driver remained bitter-faced and didnt say a word. He got the most scary-unfriendly face we ever seen of a rickshaw driver.

Az keep talking to the tabligh guy regardless not knowing if he understand English or not, but the guy smiled as if he reckoned what Az said, so it seems OK. Until the moment Az brought up the talk regarding Cricket World Cup, suddenly – miracle happened – it did break the ice and brought smile and laugh to the unfriendly driver! It’s so true if they say, do talk about cricket in India and everyone will be your friend :) Indeed.

So all of us enjoyed talking about Cricket and laughed in the rickshaw, and Az whispers ‘it seems now possible to bargain from the driver :P’ But it was not. Arriving Nizamuddin Markaz, although the driver is by now happier and smiling because of Cricket talk, he still refused to give discount. Haih. But the Tabligh guy paid the rickshaw and immediately brought us inside the markaz area.

Probably the place was so different than other places we have been earlier, and in between surprised and overwhelmed, we totally forgot to take any photos of the markaz area! :( But since I dont want you to be left clueless, I googled this image (credit) of  Tabligh Markaz in Nizamuddin West, New Delhi, which Az simply refers as Nizamuddin Markaz. It’s like a center of  Tabligh activity here in India, and in fact, people from other countries do come to stay here to participate in their missionary. I dont know much except Az has got a friend who’s active in it.

The guy brought us inside a building which we thought a mosque but has several floors, and I was lead to another separate section to women area while Az was brought to him to male area. I was scared at first but upon opening the door, there are groups of women gather inside the spacious room. They’re in a number of groups and someone approached me. When I said I’m from Malaysia, she brought me to a group of Malaysian women reading some religious books. Other groups are Indonesian, Thais, Pakistanis, Bangladeshi and some from African countries. I felt so awkward although they greeted me so friendly as if I came here to join them. Most of them came with their husbands for the missionary. They are going to Kolkata afterwards. I was being nice and introduced myself that I came to India for honeymoon trip and was just passing by here so thought of stopping. Anyhow, I was given a space and telekung for prayers, and after I’m done, they invited me to read the books with them. I managed to read one page (and others were listening) before I asked permission to leave, telling that I didnt have time and had to go back early because we’re going to some other place with Mr Bashir tonight.

Az, apparently, was having tea with the Malaysian guys at the center (and one of them was husband of the young lady I met inside the room) and after saying goodbye to the Tabligh South Indian guy we had met earlier and thanked him for bringing us here, we took rickshaw directly back to hotel. We have plan with Mr Bashir to visit Nizamuddin Dargah tonight. We had not known there are two different significant centers called Nizamuddin in here, until we literally visited both.

Delhi: Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar

How to get there: Take Metro to Qutub Minar station (from AIIMS station it’s Rs 15)
Entrance: Rs 250, Camera Rs 20

After breakfast with Mr Bashir’s family, we took Metro to visit Qutub Minar. The station to stop is Qutub Minar station – which is very straightforward. Or so we thought. But it didnt turn up to be straightforward as we expected. We got cheated at the very station thus walking for 2 km to the opposite direction. Duh =,= Why people need to be so mean?? First we approached some teenagers hanging out at the station, asking which way we should walk to reach Qutub Minar. They said left way. Okay, we dont want to be fooled that easy so we asked a rickshaw driver (we believed he meant to ask us to ride his rickshaw but we said we’d just walk) and he said we need to walk  to the right way. Great.

By now we are convinced that one of the direction-givers were trying to fool us. To take extra precaution, we asked another group of middle-aged people, hoping that mature people wont try to fool us unlike a rickshaw driver or teenager would. They didnt sound very sure, but one of them pointing to left side. So we started walking towards left of the road in front of the station.

It was not fun when you have walked like 1km and still not seeing any signboard of the destination you want to go. I started feeling uneasy and seeing bus passing by, I was so hoping to ride them but unsure which would go to Qutub Minar. We keep on walking, and instead of seeing a sight of Qutub Minar signboard, we saw a sight of the next Metro station. Grr.. If we really need to walk all the way to the next Metro station to visit Qutub Minar, we the previous station was named Qutub Minar and not this one we’re just seeing? We  therefore concluded that we took the totally wrong way T_T and turned back to walk another 1.5km to Qutub Minar Metro station.

I didnt stop cursing those people, the teenagers at the station, the mature people on the street (how could we assume that mature people could give the best direction??Ugh) until we passed the station again from another direction. I felt the urge to find the bunch of teenagers and old people again and scold them at their face, but decided to focus back to our destination, Qutub Minar. In fact, Qutub Minar is located only half the distance we had walked the opposite direction earlier.

On our way, we got to see a significant looking monument in the other side of the road (click on the first thumbnail pic), but was not in the mood for diverting our path again, so we headed straight to Qutub Minar. After we paid the ticket, and went to the entrance, I heard someone shouted “Abang, Abang!” (translate: Brother! Brother!) and I paused, wondering if I have mistakenly  heard people speaking Malay in this center of India. When I turned back, a happily smiling boy waving at us from a van, and the whole van filled with people also looking at us and smiling. From the first impression we couldnt register fast in my mind that they’re Malaysian. I mean, they’re Punjabi by race and by default when you’re in India you would think they’re Indian Punjabi first before you can guess they’re Malaysian Punjabi. “Dari mana?” the boy asked, and we happily replied “KL”. It felt so good to meet another Malaysian in a stranger land :) And it felt better that they could recognize us as Malaysian from afar despite that we mistook them as Indians (sorry!). They waved a goodbye-and-see-you-again and the van left. So we proceed our way to Qutub Minar.

So to speak, we havent yet met any other Malaysians since we arrived in India 2 days ago, so the Punjabi family was the first. Even in Red Fort which was full of tourist, we couldnt remember encountering any Malaysian. Here in Qutub Minar, there are tourists but not many at this hour, so we could spend time walking slowly in the archaeological complex.

The Qutub Minar minaret was indeed very tall and standing strong. I mean, it was hardly ruined despite of hundred years of age. There’s another structure which is a metal pillar, I cant remember what its significance. Capturing the details of Qutub Minar where you can see Arabic script carved from the very stone making up the minaret.

Apart from the minaret, there are some other structure remain in the area. Yup, the whole area was quite big, and there’s another section having some ruins with many pillars  which look like they were built in different era than the Qutub Minar and its similar red-stone builts.

If you have seen this Hindi film Fannaa (starring Aamir Khan & Kajol) which is one of my favorite Hindi films, watch the video clip below and you get to see it was filmed right here in Qutub Minar. And we were here! ^_^

India Gate, New Delhi

walking towards India Gate

How to get there: Take Metro to Central Secretariat station (from Chadni Chowk station, it’s Rs 12) and walk 1.5 km towards India Gate. 
Entrance fee: none, it’s a public area.
Way back: we took Metro to AIIMS station, Rs.20 and bought Coke for Rs.20

I cant remember how India Gate fell into our visit list, we were aware that it’s only some kind of arch structure looking like one in France (I said this because I have French postcards with it and in fact I knew Paris Gate (or whatever it’s called) before India Gate). Nothing much to see around. Then again maybe because there’s nothing much to see, we put India Gate as add-on after our main course, Red Fort and Jama Masjid on Day 1. Plus, it’s located on the same Metro line (Yellow one).

We were told by the officer at the Metro station that we should stop at Central Secretariat station, and followed by some walks. You can get a rickshaw but we thought we wouldnt mind some more walking. Only after half an hour walk and we hadnt yet seen sight of India Gate, then we started to curse ourselves. It felt like we have walked 3km towards the India Gate, you have to cross 3 super huge recreational fields. I guess only after the first field you get to see sight of India Gate from far away.

Okay, we really NEED a rest. Thankfully the field grass here look clean and we could lay down. Seen everywhere were people hanging out in the nice-weathered evening, mostly family. Also, people selling snacks, drinks and toys are everywhere too. When we were rested, suddenly came two young guys approaching us, and greeted us in a friendly way. Although looking suspicious, we didnt mind some chats with them, until the minute they said they were looking for donation. It seems, seeking donation in a friendly way. They said it’s for charity for poor people. Okay, we have seen alot of beggars all over Delhi and if we didnt manage to donate to those poor people, why should we give money to these guys in clean shirt and shoes? Feeling awkward (since we were sitting and couldnt move or run away as we would when being approached by beggars), I grabbed some coins from our Metro change and handed them to one of the guys. Instead of being thankful, they giggled a little and showed to us a small booklet with handwritten list of some Westener’s names claimed to be tourists who had given donation to them, complete with the figure they have donated. Seriously, are they expecting us to believe that these people really gave them money just based on this little booklet? And seriously again, someone would donate Rs1000 to these suspicious strangers?? So they turned down our coins and gave them back to our hands. Right, if it’s really for poor people, I bet they would receive no matter it’s only coins. They’re obviously seeking money for they *own* pocket by fooling the tourists. They can get lost. We then got up and walked away.

Ah, finally, reaching India Gate. Maybe 50 steps to go. When we were crossing the 3rd road, some girls approaching me asking if I want to get henna. I said no, and to my surprise, she grabbed my hand anyway and fiercely put the henna on my forearm! Oi!! Get off my hands! Am I looking someone so desperately needing a henna that you can put henna to me while crossing the road? They’re totally making me sick that I had to run away even faster and wiped away the henna off my hands.

india gate

We are in the front of India Gate finally. Although my mood has been spoiled by now because of the henna girls incident. So. Tell me what’s so special that we had to walk THAT FAR to come all the way to here? =,=

Side note: We only found out later that Delhi has got this hop-on-hop-off bus which stops at a number of tourist places in Delhi (India Gate is included, so I guess it’s a better way to visit this place without hurting your feet too much).