Thursday, February 4, 2010
R Day & Lucknow
The Polish woman never had time to visit the mosques in Lucknow. We decided that we should go and see them. We took a cycle rickshaw to the mosques which were 5 km away from our hotel. A cycle rickshaw is a bike with a bench on the back for people to sit. It costs significantly less than a motor rickshaw and you get to experience more of your surroundings on a bike.
The mosque was spectacularly large. The entrance fee for the mosque was 300 Rupees. Inside was a vast courtyard with little shrubs leading to the monuments. They were beautiful and sunset was arriving quickly, the sky was shimmering red. We had to take off our shoes and head into one of the mosques. There was a sign and it read labyrinth. I was very excited because I thought it would be refreshing to get lost in a sacred mosque. We climbed up a set of steep inclining stairs until we reached the top. I could see there were many rows and rows of archways which the Polish woman told me were Mogul style. As we snaked through the maze of the mosque we ran into archways that were designed with an Indian style and an Islamic style.
The following day was Republic day or R day (Jan 26). I was told and I read that it was not safe to be in crowded areas with other foreigners. As I left Delhi throngs and throngs of foreigners were pouring into the streets to witness the celebration. I thought it would be best if I stayed away from Delhi. R Day is when India gained Independence from the rule of the Brits. R Day was especially significant in Lucknow because that is where Ghandi and his followers devised a plan to overthrow the British rule.
The parade started early and my hotel and was 500m from the procession of music and laughter. The parade started out very good and well planned. This parade had many gaps of 10 minutes where no parade person was in sight, unusual when thinking of the typical parade.
Then I figured I had enough of Lucknow. Its tourist infrastructure was low and there wasn’t much to do. I hopped on a train to Khajuraho the land of the Tantric Temples. The train ride would take me to the state of MP which is just south of UP. The train would take 10 hours this time and I bought a ticket for 91 Rupees. Once I bought the ticket I was informed that there was a 2 hour delay because of the fog. I decided to go to an internet cafe and just hang out.
Getting on the train at 7pm I didn’t realize that I had bought a boarding pass for the general class. As I walked I could see there was no way in this world that I was going to subject myself to the cruelty of general. No room, super crowded, and dirtier then dirt. I then secretly jumped into 2 AC and awaited my fate. I took out my book Shantaram which I had bought in Delhi and casually read it hoping no one would sit in my seat. 5 minutes into my journey I was approached by the ticket master. He looked at my ticket and then gave it back to me without an expression on his face. I thought I was home free. He then started calculating numbers and asking others how much their tickets were. I was busted, I had to pay the difference and in the end the ticket was 645 Rupees. I figured that he had taken a little icing off the top of the price but I didn’t mind, this is India!!