April 22, 2008


The expiry of my contract with Satyam coincided with the last day of work for my roommate Stein. After wrapping up our professional obligations we decided to meet up in New Delhi, the capital city of India. From here we would embark on a great North Indian trip spanning multiple states and modes of transportation.

Stints in Delhi would bookend our trip. Soon after our arrival we visited Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, and the other Parliament buildings of the largest democracy in the world. We then drove down the majestically broad thouroughfare of the Raj Path to India Gate, a memorial to soldiers.

Of India's major cities, Delhi has the highest number of historical sites to visit. The Qutab Minar complex houses the tallest brick minaret in the world. The Lotus Temple, a Bahá'í House of Worship, is a fairly modern architectural marvel with its petal shaped design. Completed in 1986, it bears some resemblance to the Sydney Opera House.

Along the banks of the dried up river Yamuna in Old Delhi, lies the Red Fort or Lal Qila. Constructed by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 1600's, it is still in spectacular condition. Protected by a 2.5 km long wall, many of the marble buildings inside are off limits to the public. The Diwan-i-Am is the imperial courtyard where the emperor honoured the public with his royal presence. It is also the former location of the fabled Peacock Throne, which has an estimated value of $1 billion USD were it still to be in existence today. It was not long before stomachs began to rumble under the midday sun. A cycle rickshaw through crowded back alleys led us to Karims, a meat lover's delight. We savoured a meal of kebabs and biryani at this famed restaurant before continuing on to the Jamma Masjid. India's largest mosque boasts a courtyard that can hold 25,000 worshipers at the same time.

Delhi's shopping scene also offers great variety. From the shining new malls of Noida to the heritage circles of Connaught Place, there is something for everyone. At Connaught Place, or CP for short, we reunited with the final third of High Street's trio of roommates - Joe. My shoelaces were untied, so Joe kindly tied them up. He had also been journeying across India and we shared a hearty meal before we went our separate ways. Stein and I also visited the upscale Khan market and the seedy Palika Bazaar, an underground market where my European companion was swarmed by merchants eager to sell him dirty videos and magazines.

Sightseeing and shopping completed, two activities remained before Stein had to fly off to his homeland. When he had visited Mumbai, Stein had dubbed several scenes for singer Himesh Reshammiya's debut film Aap Kaa Suroor. We went to the movie theatre to see, or rather hear, him in action. The last item on our itinerary was a visit to Asia's top restaurant - Bukhara. Offering fine cuisine from India's northern frontiers but no cutlery, the food was immensely tasty.