How not to look like a tourist in Delhi

If you are a women who likes to travel, then have you ever considered how the way you dress might affect the people who live in the place you are visiting? A lot of times, people will walk into my neighborhood and I can almost always tell if they are tourists by the way they are dressed. I live in a very conservative Muslim neighborhood and the standard rule for women is that you have to cover your bottom, chest, and shoulders. This means that it is not a good idea to walk around in shorts and a tank top.
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This is what I normally wear when I go into the basti

Because of the strict rule about clothing here, when I go out, I normally wear a long shirt or dress that covers my bottom, jeans or leggings, and a scarf that covers my chest. When I go into the basti, my clothes are slightly different, but still very similar. I normally wear what I would wear in the neighborhood minus the jeans. For covering my chest, I wear a dupatta which I drape across my chest and wrap around my head.
Muslim women will often wear a salwar kameez with a dupatta or sometimes if they are more conservative, they will wear a burkha.
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This is a Indian woman in a burkha

The reason I have mainly talked about the clothes women should wear is because there are only a few rules for men on what they can wear. The only rules I know of are that men and boys have to cover their elbows, and when they are at the dargah, they have to cover their head, which for them means that they wear a small, normally white hat called a prayer cap. Other than that, I think they can pretty much wear whatever they want. Most of the time, the clothes I see men and boys wearing are T-shirts, shorts, and
the occasional tank top.
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He is wearing a prayer cap

Another type of clothing that some men and boys wear is the kurta pajama. The kurta pajama consists of a kurta very similar to the kurtas women wear, except less decorative and colorful, and pants. Unlike the women’s kurtas, the mens’ kurtas are normally made up of a solid fabric, which means that the fabric doesn’t have any patterns on it.
Now I am no expert on clothing rules for Muslims (or any of the Muslim culture for that matter), but this is what my experience living in India has shown me. The rules are probably different depending on where you go in India, but I think they are probably generally the same. I hope you visit India because it is a bright, colorful and beautiful place.

Where old meets new in Delhi; Agrasen Ki Baoli

Located near the fairly new Connaught Place is something centuries older. However, while it is old, Agrasen Ki Baoli is not the oldest stepwell in Delhi. It is however, one of the last step wells in Delhi. Built during the Mahabharat era, this centuries old step well was constructed by Maharaja Agrasen, and later rebuilt by the Agrawal community during the 14th century.

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A picture of the arches lining the stairs

Descending down into the red stone step well are roughly 103 steps with small arches lining the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs is a small room with a hallway leading further into the step well. The hallway is blocked off, as is the rest of the well farther in the building. However, the stairs and the room at the beginning of the hallway are open to visitors. An interesting fact about this old baoli is that it is believed to be the home of ghosts. However, when my family visited this baoli, the only inhabitants we found were hundreds of shrieking bats.

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These are the stairs leading down to the hallway

I’ve seen bats before, but normally it’s at night, and so all I see is some black shadows flitting around in the dark. When I first heard the bats, I thought they were birds. But when my dad and I went closer, we saw that the “birds” were actually hundreds, maybe thousands, of screeching bats hanging from the roof. Bats that also tended to leave their droppings in places where people were likely to step. That was something I didn’t expect.

Something that was fascinating to me was that Agrasen Ki Baoli had been built in the 14th century, so about 700 years ago, and it is still in pretty good condition. I thought it would be more run down. But the gate, courtyard, and stairs looked in good condition despite having been built hundreds of years before. It was really cool seeing something so old right in the middle of something so new.

All in all, it was a interesting place. Sure, it was crowded. But my family had a good time there. I thought it was fascinating that Agrasen ki Baoli was built in the 14th century and is still in pretty good condition. I was able to shoot some pretty good pictures of the step well too. My family and I enjoyed our visit there, and if you go, I hope you have a good time. Agrasen Ki Baoli is an fascinating place. Just avoid the bat poop!

5 types of animals in Delhi not see on most streets

Animals make up a large part of Delhi’s population. Wandering the streets are goats, cows, dogs, donkeys, horses, and sometimes an elephant or camel. These are the animals seen every day all over Delhi.

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This is a goat in the basti

In America, probably the most common animals people have as pets are dogs or cats. But in India, goats are probably the most common animal for a pet. Even better, these unusual pets wear clothes! There are lots of goats wandering the basti’s streets wearing T-shirts, pants, tank tops, and even blazers! My Indian friend Zareena had a goat that would wear a blazer in the wintertime, and I have seen lots of goats wearing tank tops.

A lot of times, elephants are seen on grasslands in Africa. But believe it or not, there are elephants in Asia too! They are rather scarce in Delhi, but there are even more in other parts of India. However, even though there are not many in Delhi, my family and I have seen a couple walking down the street in front of Khan Market.

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A painted elephant

Camels are about as scarce as elephants in this city, but every so often they do appear on Delhi’s streets. However, as with elephants and horses, they are never without a rider. If you meet one, you might want to be careful around them because I have heard they spit. I have never gotten close enough to find out, and nor do I want to. And if you ever are considering taking a ride on one, just remember that riding a camel can be very bumpy and will probably make you sore. My dad has ridden one once, and after he dismounted the camel he said it was really bumpy and made him really sore.

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A man riding a camel

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A camel up close

Another unusual animal seen on Delhi’s streets is a cow. Although in America cows are normally found on farms, here they are found on the street. Cows might make up the largest portion of Delhi’s animal population. One time, we were driving through a neighborhood here in Delhi and my brother and I counted up to fifty cows. The reason for this is because India’s population is mostly Hindu, and cows are sacred to Hindus. Because they are sacred animals, it is illegal in Delhi and in many other Indian states for anybody to kill a cow for any purpose. They eat trash, and whatever grass they can find, and sometimes people will milk them.

Another animal that is rather common in India is a monkey. Monkeys are often thought to be cute and nice, but in India, they are the exact opposite. They can be very nasty and naughty and if you’ve ever gotten close enough to see how cute it is, then it’s probably already doing something nasty to you. I have had at least two close calls with monkeys at two different times. However, the first time wasn’t actually in India, but in Nepal at the Monkey Temple. The second time, the monkey just frightened my mom and I. We were at my dentist’s office waiting for our taxi to come, and at one point I heard shouting and yelling inside the gate. Then all of a sudden, I saw something furry fly past my feet. At first I thought it was a dog, but then I realized it was a monkey. Thankfully, it ignored me and didn’t touch my mom or I, but just ran down the road to some trees nearby. My mom shrieked when she saw it, but when it passed, she and I started laughing.

The countries of the world are full of thousands of different species and animals. India is no exception. There are peacocks and parakeets, donkeys and horses, and so many other species. These are just a few of the animals I see in Delhi every day.

The oldest historical site in Delhi

The street in front of the Red Fort is one of the most chaotic streets I have ever seen. This was because the Red Fort is probably one of the most famous tourist sites in Delhi. I went there a couple months ago, and the area out front was loud and a little chaotic. The taxi had dropped my dad, my brother and I on the opposite side of the street which meant that we had to cross the extremely busy street to get into the Red Fort. Indian streets are usually very crowded and busy, but this street, being in front of one the oldest historical sites in Delhi, was especially so. And because of that, we not only had to dodge the many vehicles quickly driving toward us, we also had to deal with the many rickshaw wallas (guys who drive the rickshaws) and salesmen. And on top of all that, Dad also warned us that pickpockets were also very active there. I wasn’t feeling very well at the time either, so that made it even more difficult. When we finally made it across, Dad then had to find out where the driver of the second taxi had dropped off Mom and our Indian friends Dilara and her children Sultana and Shahanur. Those first few minutes at Lal Qila (Red Fort in Hindi) were definitely very tumultuous.

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When we had bought tickets, we walked through the giant door and then proceeded down the long lane of stalls selling souvenirs like scarves, jewelry, toys, magnets, and even little snow globes! After that, there was a large white gate you walked through to enter the area with the gardens and palaces. The back of it was a brownish red color.

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The part past that gate wasn’t quite what I expected. I guess what I thought there would be lots of beautiful palaces right inside the gate, but my mom and dad told me that they were farther into the fort. Another thing that surprised me was how big some of the fountains were. I’m at least 5’5, and I think that if I stood up on the bottom of the fountain, the walls might have either been close to my height, or above it. However, the depth of the fountains wasn’t the only way they were huge. They were also really long and really wide. The emperor must have been really fond of huge fountains.

2017 12 28 11 51 10 HDRThe first pavilion we came across was one of the largest, and in my opinion the prettiest, because while the others were pretty much all made out of marble or some other type of white stone and were all similarly designed, this one was built from a red type of stone and was different from all the others. The rows of columns were intricately carved, and in the middle of the pavilion there was a large display surrounded by plastic walls. However, the plastic walls were slightly dirty, so I wasn’t able to see what was inside the walls.

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The others were pretty much all alike, meaning they were all white, except for one other one, and they were all carved with similar looking designs. A lot of the pavilions and even the white gate had flowers carved into the walls or pillars.

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The other red colored pavilion I mentioned was among the other white pavilions and looked like there had once been a fountain where the building was standing. It was smaller than all the others, and closer to the palaces too.

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We never actually got to see the palaces, we left before we saw them, but the rest of the fort was really cool. Another cool part is that in front of every building, there was a sign that explained what it was and when it was built. I learned a lot about the history of the Lal Qila. If you like history, then you will definitely like the oldest historical site in delhi.