India Trip: Blog 4: January 8, 2020. Amazing Commerce in Old Delhi
6:00 Evening. It gets dark fast. We are not on daylight savings time here.
It was a pretty good day, except that the roll of film in the Minolta camera slipped. But no big loss. I took it out and shot a roll of Kodak 200 color film in there.
I even found a guy in old Delhi selling Kodak Film but mostly Samsun Cameras. I asked him about 35 mm film, and he had it. So those who say that film is not available in India are wrong. It was quite okay today. I shot two rolls of film, one roll of color in the Minolta and one black and white in the Leica. It was a good day for pushing black and white film to ISO 1600.
I am not very picky about rickshaw prices since I am not going to be here very long. I didn’t find any place to change money today. But can do it tomorrow at the airport.
I left the hotel in late morning. I first went to that Madras Coffee House and had coffee. A guy was there taking down the Christmas and New Year decorations. I have about 4500 Rupees left now, a little more than sixty dollars. I avoid the touts that hang around the hotel. It is easy to get a sticky person that wants to follow one around and keep bugging you to take you somewhere that you have no desire to go to. I understand their desire to make some money, but I really am not responsible for their income. Whether increasing it or decreasing it. I know what I want to do. Almost everyone asks what hotel you are staying in. Why? They may come around or send a friend to hang around. So I never tell them what hotel I am staying in. One better not.
I know that I pay them more than normal to take me somewhere all across old Delhi. What is five or six dollars to me? I don’t really care at all. So I just let them make a little extra money. That’s okay with me.
So I just went out on the street and got a rickshaw. The guy said rupees five hundred. I knew that it was too much. I said four hundred. That is also too much, but I don’t care. The traffic is horrendous and it was raining lightly too. Earlier it had been raining quite heavily. I ended up giving the rickshaw wallah five hundred anyway.
I wanted him to leave me at the old Delhi Station, but where he left me, I could not get across that big road with all the traffic. There was an underpass, but I gave it up. It was an area that I had not seen before so I just shot some black and white film there.
I went into a quite small lane. There were rows and rows of electronic shops. An amazing area with amazing commerce there. When I finished that black and white film, I needed to sit down. I found a place that had tea under a roof. Next to it, the guy had chhola batora and puris. So I sat down there.
I took out my Minolta. I started taking pictures with that, I thought, but actually, the film had slipped off the take up spool. I finally wound it back, but the end of the roll went into the film spool. I need to recover it in the dark to reload it.
I switched back to the Leica. Then I came to a place where they were selling all these bright colored lights. I thought that I can’t miss this, but needed color film. So I got my old Minolta and loaded a roll of Kodak 200 color film in it. I finished that roll, but not right there.
I did talk to a few guys along the way and had tea with them. They took my picture with them with a cell phone. Everybody has a camera in their phone now, which is good. I also took their picture, but unfortunately, the film was not advancing.
Well, people pretty much know what is going on, if one spells it out for them and cut through the bullshit. Most of them think that America is great, but I tell them that most people are getting poorer. It is a good thing that a lot of people here know English.
By that time, it was starting to get darker. It was pretty dark all day, but there were lights in the market. I walked up through part of Chandni Chowk and got a rickshaw.
Before this, one of the two guys who talked to me kept bugging me to take me to the spice market or to a masjid (mosque). I told him that I was not interested.
The other side of the street that goes up toward the Jama Masjid was so crowded. I knew that I had to walk up through there to get a rickshaw. But this bug stuck to me and kept bugging me. Man! They can really be sticky. I was taking a picture now and then on the street. Finally I just had to tell him: “Please, I am not interested.” Man! I finished that roll of color film and walked up the street looking for a rickshaw.
I found one, but this one has two facing seats. I didn’t know it at the time, but this kind cannot go into Connaught Circus. So I had to shift to a different kind of auto rickshaw. The traffic was horrible and surely dangerous. By this time it was dark. I took a video on the way with my cell phone. For some reason, the guy did not want me to do it. Probably because he was not supposed to be going that close to Connaught Circus. He stopped the rickshaw and asked me to stop taking the video. It didn’t matter, as I had taken all I wanted to.
I recognized the road and the old monument, a red stone gate, that I had photographed last year coming from the Red Fort. At the road stops, there are beggars and sellers. He seemed to be telling me to hold onto my bag tight. I had it right in front of me with both my cameras in it. It could be dangerous, I know. I didn’t see any other tourists around there. I guess they would not be likely to be where I was, anyway.
Finally, we got to a place on the street where other rickshaws were parked. He had to put me in a different rickshaw. I got it quickly why. He could not take me all the way in that rickshaw. So I had to pay again. A young Sikh guy took me. But he had to ask several times about P-Block. They do not know the names of the blocks of Connaught Circus. I always tell them, next to Regal Building. Most of them know Regal building.
Finally I recognized the Regal Building. It still says “Regal Building.” I saw it today, but the rickshaw wallah did not know it. So I had him leave me at the corner and paid him. He was happy. That’s all.
I ate something twice, when I needed to change my film. That’s about the only way. Otherwise, there is no place to sit down. The first time was rupees 40 and the second time again rupees 40. About 60 cents. It was so cheap and actually seemingly good. The second time, it was two potato pakoras and they were actually very good. I hope that they agree with my digestion.
Anyway, I was glad to be back to the Madras Coffee House. Again, I had a coffee and then to the hotel.
It takes quite a lot to write all that up, but anyway, a good day.
Why is the US going into this war with Iran? It is truly madness. Just madness. What a mad, mad, country. People here know that it is mad!
What can one do? Two days are gone already of this trip. But I have shot two and a half rolls of film. I don’t know what I will get tomorrow. Maybe it is going to rain again, but there is no wind like in Istanbul. I will be off to Lucknow.