I've been backpacking now for 4 weeks with no more than 3 nights in one place (Dharamsala being an exception with 4 nights). The India-hopping adventure, wild climate changes and physical exertion, not to mention my non-stop and profuse sweating, have started to take their toll.
I arrived back at the Hare Rama guesthouse in Delhi still carrying a cold, tired and with a painfully stiff neck. The Pahar Ganj area is correctly described by Nir as a tourist ghetto and my guest house room has the feel (and size) of a Turkish prison cell (with room service). I needed 2 things fast: a vigorous neck massage and better accommodations. Nir suggested aneighborhood he saw in his last visit - Karol Bagh.
I got into an auto Rikshaw with an address for an Ayurvedic center and learned that drive was one hour away (Delhi is b i g). We discussed my various discomforts and he suggested another place nearby.
We arrived, I negotiated a price and released myself into the care of a man and a woman who dressed me in disposable underwear and who proceeded to pour hot oil over my body. Despite my complaints about my shoulders they still spent half the time on my legs, which was unnesseary, but I learned something about Ayurveda: that many of their treatments are standard and not adjusted specifically for the person. This despite their famous dichotomy of types.
The 4 Hands massage managed to release some of the tension and at least allow me to continue looking for a hotel. My driver, who waited for me to finish the treatment, took me to several hotels and I settled in the Jennifer Inn. For a reasonable price (hotel prices in India can vary wildly from 700-20,000) and all the toilet paper I can use.
Qutub Minar is a 72 meter testament to Moghul conquest Erected in the 12th century it served 3 qpurposes: Mosque, Watchtower and monument to its builder. Inside access was closed since 1986, following a tragedy where an entire class of schoolchildren tumbled down some of 300 stairs and 8 had died. The site itself was ancient and housed 27 Jain and Hindu temples. Of course they had to be destroyed by the Moghuls but some of the 1,600 year old architecture still remains. Amazingly, all the stone structures and columns were put in place using interlocking stones, which is how the entire structures are held together. An iron cast pillar 6 meters tall is another display of excess and iron worship and it carries an inscription in Pali, India's 1st language.
This is what i got from my visit to the Indira Ghandi museum: "When tradition is allowed to act as an enclosure of the mind, decadence follows." Indira Nehru
How strange it was to meet on one of my last days in Delhi, the same traveling shoe repairman who fixed my sandals on my first day there. I was sitting for a Chai on the street when he approached and scanned my shoes intently. I proudly said "new shoes" but he pointed to my little backpack. Indeed it had a tear and I remembered it also had a hole in an inner pocket. So, again I sat as he fixed my bag. Fixed in and out.
That's it. From now till flight I'm resting.