The Trip That Wasn't: Part III

"Is it seven o'clock yet?" I asked, cracking an eye open.

Mawii rolled over and looked at her phone. "Damn." 


"It's ten in the morning,"

"So much for sight seeing," I murmured happily - I could see the sun streaming through our window, despite the faded green curtain, and I could tell it was going to be a hot day - and I closed my eyes again. 

"New plan," I said to Mawii, half an hour later, as we ate our breakfast. Hunger pangs had forced us out of bed in a way no 8.40 am class ever has. "We do lunch first. And then we go sight seeing." 

"Sounds good."

"It'll give us more energy anyway." 

"This really isn't sight seeing weather," said Mawii, a couple of hours later, as we were trudging our way to the metro station in the heat. 

I sighed, and looked down at my feet. Keep walking, keep walking. A terrible sight met my eyes (well, eye, I was still wearing only one contact lens) and I groaned. 

"WHAT?" Mawii spun around, probably thinking I'd stepped in cow poop. Our lane harbours the occasional cow which appears and vanishes without a trace (it would be too optimistic to think that someone turns them into beef), only occasionally leaving big lumps of feces for hapless people to step in. 

"I forgot to take my nail polish off." I was wearing sandals and I'd been picking at the nail polish on my toes the previous night (disgusting habit, I know, I know, my mother has told me a thousand times) and now half of it had gone, and half of it was there, and my feet looked terrible. 

"Just ignore it?" Said Mawii hopefully. 

"I can't go sight seeing with ugly toenails!" 

So then I walked past the metro station to the pharmacy, while Mawii sat outside the Exchange Store resignedly sipping a cold coffee, and bought nail polish remover and cotton wool and lip balm because the saleslady told me it would make my lips look luscious and who the hell doesn't want luscious lips? 

I joined Mawii outside the Exchange Store, and started rubbing frantically at my toenails, while passers by gave me curious looks. I ignored them. It comes with the territory. 

I finally got my toes looking clean (although depressingly colourless) and for extra measure, I'd luscious-ed my lips, and we finally got onto the metro, and away from the heat. 

"I could just sit here all day," I said, blissfully, leaning back and stretching my legs out, enjoying the air conditioning and the empty compartment. Of course, then we stopped at Kashmere Gate, and all of a sudden the metro was jam packed with frantic people and decayed people and smelly people, and suddenly life outside the metro began to look rosy again. 

We got to Big Chill eventually and asked for a table outside so we could smoke (you're allowed to smoke when you're on holiday). Because it was so hot, no one else was sitting outside, and so we were rushed past a line of people waiting to be seated in the air conditioned interior. They looked at us enviously. Ha ha, non smokers, ha ha. 

We'd both been exercising (or we intended to start, I'm not sure) and it was really very hot, so we skipped the pasta and had salads instead. Would've felt very healthy if it wasn't for the pack of cigarettes lying between us. 

"I can't believe we've turned into the kind of people who eat salad in restaurants," said Mawii sadly, when we were done. 

"I know. Dessert?" 

"It would be a crime not to have dessert." 

I don't remember what Mawii had, but I had the Belgian Chocolate shake, after two years, TWO years (the last time was when A.O. was in town and I scared the crap out of him by eating more than he did) and it was joy, it was heaven, it was all things miraculous and wonderful, and I'm not even exaggerating. And I didn't even feel guilty because I'd had salad for lunch.

We really didn't feel like moving after that, but we did move, all the way to Humayun's Tomb. We went to the ticket booth and gave the man forty rupees (Indians pay twenty each, foreigners pay a hundred something). The man looked at us suspiciously and asked us where we were from in Hindi. (Kidhar sei hai?")

This is an old trick, and it's been played on me before. So I replied in Hindi too, saying "Idhar sei." 

Unfortunately, he looked even more suspicious and said, "Dilli?"


He gave us our tickets and just as we were about to move away he said that we looked like we were from Japan. 

"I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU BUT I DO NOT LOOK FUCKING JAPANESE." I yelled at Mawii, much to the shock of a bunch of German tourists standing near by. They looked at me nervously. Oh well. At least they weren't Japanese. 

The guard who was standing at the entrance insisted on checking our id to check that we were nationals before tearing our tickets. I was itching for him to say, "Japan se?" so I could kick him, but he didn't, and in retrospect, I think it was a good thing. 

I must say, Humayun's Tomb was incredibly disappointing. We climbed a flight of extremely steep stone stairs, which struck me as ironic considering the reason for Humayun's death, and reached the courtyard which was lovely - at first glance. There were a few tombs to one side, and I strolled over and examined them. They were unmarked. 

We walked around the courtyard a little - let me again reiterate that it was bloody hot - and the outside was quite nice, because it was all red stone and there was a lovely view of the gardens from all sides. The gardens were very well maintained, but the fountains and water holes were dry, or nearly dry.

Then we went inside. I reeled back as I stepped through the archway - there was a terrible smell there. I don't know what it was - probably from the construction work that was going on everywhere which really didn't help the atmosphere, let me tell you - but if I had to put a name to it, I'd say it smelt of decay. 

The tomb is in a large, shadowy, cool hall, but the thing is, it's the sort of room that should be empty and quiet for you to appreciate it, and there were people strolling in and out (which is only fair, I suppose) but they kept taking photographs and talking really loudly and the smell was terrible and there was drilling going on from all sides, and really, if I were Humayun, I'd be seriously annoyed. Also, there's no information about Humayun which is a pity because he was so interesting (though admittedly useless) - nothing that tells you about his reign, or how he died. 

We strolled into some of the ante chambers. The walls were all marked with graffiti. 

There were a few tombs there as well, but all unmarked. Nothing that told you about who lay under them, or why, or how, or when they'd been put there. And I didn't know and I wanted to know, and it was incredibly frustrating. 

After that, we went out (glad to get away from the smell and the noise) and we went down again, and strolled the perimeter of the building (the building itself is beautiful) and the gardens (also beautiful). 

Mawii brought her camera, but it wasn't working, so I walked around taking photos with my phone, because taking photos made me feel more like we were on a trip. 

I suppose everyone wants to leave their mark on history.

The courtyard.

Cute door and Mawii.

Humayun's Tomb in all its glory, baby.

Scenes from the gardens.

What the hall could have and should have felt like, but didn't.

We sat in the gardens for a while, and then decided to carry on to the Purana Quila. I have mixed feelings about Humayun's Tomb. I liked the Red Fort much more, because there's so much more to know there. And there are things to know about Humayun too, you just can't find it there.

So I said goodbye to the son of Babur, the same son, legend has it, whom Babur sacrificed his life for (according to legend, Humayun was very ill, Babur was distraught, he walked around Humayun's bed and begged for his life to be taken and his son's life to be spared and three days later, Humayun was hunky dory and the first Great Mughal was dead), the same son who lost Babur's kingdom and then won it back, only to promptly die (he fell down his library steps and broke his neck. Now do you see why the fact that you have to climb steep stairs to reach his resting place is ironic?), the son who fathered Akbar (general consensus seems to be that was Humayun's greatest achievement.)

We walked to the main road and saw an auto. The autowallah was a relatively harmless looking old man. We got into the auto and asked to be taken to Purana Quila. 

Apparently that was asking for too much.

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