Delhi, India. It didn’t seem as macabre as it might sound, but we spent our day at two assassination sites and an amazing lot of tombs.
We are staying in the posh part of New Delhi designed in the 1920’s by Edwin Lutyens, where “bungalows” are tucked behind high fences off a broad avenue. Right down the road from us is the home where Gandhi was staying when he was assassinated. The buildings now serve as a museum of his life, with a touching walk showing his path to the moment of his death. While the home was grand, his room was humble, as were his last possessions.
Not far away, in an equally lovely setting, was the home of Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1984 by her guards as she was leaving the grounds to go to work. As with Mahatma Gandhi, her path to her death is marked. A crystal lane shows where she walking; a clear glass panel shows where she fell.
Lots of controversy around her terms as Prime Minister, but lots of female fans eager to see where she lived, as she now seems to have been turned into a feminist icon.
She had two sons, one of whom was killed in a plane crash, and the other of whom reluctantly succeeded her as Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, who was also assassinated.
Then it was on to older death relics.
We started at Humayan’s Tomb, build in the mid-16th century, as the first of the Mughal emperors’ garden tombs. The concept and the execution found its zenith in the Taj Mahal, but the cluster of tombs and mosques in this park were stunning.
After lunch, we went to Lodi Gardens, which also feature medieval tombs of powerful sultans, in the midst of lovely garden settings. We were seeing this on a beautiful Sunday, which brought out lots of young lovers and families enjoying the grounds of the leaders who crushed their ancestors. And then there were the tourists like us, marveling at the craftsmanship and care of these houses for the dead.
All in all, rather uplifting. Life does go on.
Don’s Food Corner
Knowing our path for the day, from one tuk-tuk ride to the next, I had selected a specific restaurant, but this time I also selected a backup. Sure enough, as soon as we approached a tuk-tuk driver, we were told that the restaurant I had so carefully screened was closed. This apparently is an old tuk-tuk drive ruse to shift you to a different restaurant from which they get a commission. I protested about the restaurant being closed, which elicited an indignant response and a promise to take us our selected restaurant to prove it was closed. Rather than get into a further argument, I told the driver the name of my second choice. I got a resistance to that as well with a recommendation of somewhere better. I insisted on being taken to my back-up restaurant. Then, after getting into the tuk-tuk, the driver wanted to take us to a bazaar and a shop. No, no, no. This is a constant battle with almost every tuk-tuk driver.
Finally, however, we got to this back-up restaurant. This place, which was highly recommended by Fodor’s, was called All American Diner. OK. let’s see how this concept is interpreted in Delhi. We arrived at about 1 pm and were told that there was a one-hour wait. We balked at that and were then immediately ushered in and seated at the counter. The interior was faux diner-classic kitsch. The menu also recreated most of the classic items you’d see on diner menus. Lots of breakfast type dishes. Various types of sandwiches and burger (chicken and lamb, but no beef, of course).
Jo went for a strawberry milk shake, tomato soup and a chicken cheeseburger.
I tried an “Americano” smoothie of various types of fruit and a lamb burger. It all had kind of a resemblance of what you’d find in a second-rate diner, but it wasn’t the real deal. That didn’t matter to the locals. They were lined up and willing to wait and hour or more to stuff themselves with an approximation of an exotic trip to American road food.