In Delhi, we once again visited the huge mosque, the Jami Masjid, then
went for a rather brief rickshaw tour of the Chandni Chowk area. That's
a good way to see it if you're feeling lazy or jet-lagging. It
was the last day of the Dussehra Festival and lots of the shops were
closed, so the streets were unusually quiet and the rickshaw had no
trouble advancing. The high point of that
little tour was when the driver (cyclist?) let us out at the entrance
to a cul-de-sac called Naughara.
This narrow streetlet contains a number of nice homes and a Jain
temple. It's well-kept, for this neighborhood, and quite fascinating.
Naughara, street and door
Jain Temple in Naughara
Bazar outisde Naughara
We had a nap and then took a stroll around the grounds of Humayun's tomb, which we had seen in 2006 also. Then we crossed the street for a memorable evening listening to qawwali
Nizamuddin shrine of Sufi Sheikh Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Chishti. We
had visited the shrine before, but this time we planned it for a
Thursday, when qawwali are sung. We
went early, but it was already dark as we followed our
driver-become-guide, threading our way through the
crowded and colorful lanes of this Muslim quarter. As we arrived,
prayer was still going on in the mosque next to the tomb. The scene was
extraordinarily colorful from peoples' garments and the hangings on the
walls, but also from the gold around the shrine itself.
Approach to the shrine
Before the musicians arrive
and playing qawalli at the Nizamuddin Shrine
Gradually, the musicians arrived. They took their places across
from the shrine to the Sufi saint, Nizamuddin, and arranged the
spectators around them in about 3/4 of a circle, open towards the
shrine. One musician started playing a harmonium, very sofly, then
he began to sing. Soon. a tabla joined in until the end of that song.
By now more musicians had arrived and another song was soon begun. One
old man (He
might have been no older than we, though.) was particularly
fascinating. He had a short beard and was dressed like many of the men
present, in a long, white tunic and pyjama, with a cylindrical Muslim
crocheted cap. He busy-busied himself haranguing people to move so
as not to block the musicians' view of the tomb. He also collected
donations (one from us). And he sang enthusiastically, in a slightly
cracking but resonant voice, with one or both hands pointing upwards.
A funny thing happened while we were there. We were seated behind the singers so we could lean on something, in this case the jalli
wall of the tomb of a princess. Some female person in there was having
fits, whether of religious or secular order, we knew not. Every now and
then, piercing cries punctuated the music and the hubbub.
out among the spectators, there was an attractive, young woman who was
either high on something or had lost some of her mental functions. She
was wandering around sinuously -- read, erotically -- and at one point
started dancing in between the musicians and the tomb. One of them
calmly and gently moved her away. No mention was made of a woman's not
being allowed to dance alone in public, especially in front of a
saint's tomb. It was an example of acceptance.
A young Muslim gentleman sitting next to me offered us some of the prajad
(sweet) the musicians were distributing, but which we were afraid to
touch. It was good. From then until we left, we exchanged comments
occasionally. He explained some of the etiquette of the occasion, such
as not sitting with the (impure) soles of your feet extended toward the
tomb. Nice fellow.
We hung around for an hour or so,
watching the crowd and listening to the music and absorbing the
our driver, whose name was something like Aritosse, took us to eat in a
really good restaurant. He parked in a small lane thronged with cars,
ending at a small shopping center composed uniquely of six to eight
restaurants. Apparently, that is a market area called Pindara Market.
We ate in one called Pindi, which was excellent, for the ambience, the
service and the food. We recommend the chicken saagmala (chicken with ginger and spinach). We had eaten well at noon too, so we can also recommend murgh mali kebab (marinated-chicken kebab), kashmir kebab (similar to the murgh mali kebab) and mutton shahi korma (which was delicious and which even Siv found not to be too spicy).