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 NaugharaBazar 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 at the 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 shrineBefore the musicians arrive
Musicians Musicians
Musicians singing 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.

Also, 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 atmosphere. Then 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).

The next morning, we flew to Kathmandu.

Back to home page/accueil or to Nepal India tour