Friday, February 26, 2010

The Disturbing Case of the Missing Monkeys

So I unfortunately wake up of my own accord at six in the morning only to find a nice card slipped under our door entitling us to free breakfast. Don't mind if we do, and how we do. Four types of cheese cut into wiggly-french-fry shapes, white grape raisins, mangos, kiwis, a bajillion other fruits including tomatoes which apparently is never mistaken for a vegetable in India, strawberry-flavored cornflakes (!), mango-flavored corn-flakes (!!), bacon-flavored corn-flakes (!!!) (I made that one up, but a man can dream), honey comb that you can eat, nuts, dates, yogurt, eggs done any way you want, 12 Indian dishes that I could neither pronounce nor tell you what was in them, smoked salmon, fresh non-diarrhea-causing juice and whole, creamy milk, tea, coffee, and the entire cast of Redwall running around your ankles.

So after our post-breakfast comas, Jon and I set out for Tughlaqabad Fort, an ancient ruin which used to encompass the whole of Delhi which our guide map informs us is covered in Langur monkeys. The map's even got monkeys drawn on it. Sick nasty.

So we taxi it up through the old city part of Delhi for a while, arrive at the fort, trade our rupees for tickets that look strangely like rupees, and walk up the path into miles and miles of fort. Seriously, the perimeter is 6km long, which for those of you living in America is approx 4 miles. The entire place supposedly has 8 sides, though we only covered like 3, and in between there's walkways and arches and underground rooms and gigantic pits and Indian folk here and there who have snuck in by climbing over the walls and are enjoying picnics, burning incense at altars, and singing religious-sounding songs. Here's some of Jon's pics, though there's simply nothing 2-d that can capture the feeling of standing among ancient stone structures as far as you can see in any direction:

The strange thing is, though, that none of the stone walkways and stairs and stuff appear to be worn. And I know from walking through the buildings in Princeton that even 100 years of people walking around a place smooths and grooves a place. None of that around here. Maybe Indian people are made from packing peanuts? I don't know. Anyway, after a couple of hours of hard-core climbing up walls and down underground passages (tourism in India > tourism in the US), we followed a couple of Indian mothers with small children through a cascade of traffic to another ancient structure built outside the fort walls (pic courtesy jon).

So here's the story: Once upon a time there was this dude, Zafar Khan, who was totally sweet and then he died and Ghiyathud-din Tughluq decided to build him this sweet tomb. Then all of the sudden, Tuggy (as his friends used to call him) was like, fuck it, ALL YOUR TOMBS ARE BELONG TO ME and he built his own, the beautiful intersection of Arabian and Hindu architecture that you see in front of you right in the same place Zafar Khan totally thought he had all to himself. Not only that, but Tuggy buries his wife, his number one son, his son and his son's wife, and even his beloved hunting dog all in within the grounds of the place (also there happens to be a jail on one side of the compound for some reason). And then he floods the area around it, situating this jewel of a graveyard smack-dab in the middle of a lake like something out of King Arthur myth. Very cool, dick move though.

So anyway, we saw rocks, we saw walls, we saw graves and jails and dog sepulchres, but you know what we didn't see? The supposedly-teeming cartloads of Langurs. Wtf.

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