Gandhi Pilgrimage and New Friends.

New Delhi Travel Blog

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Qinta Minar Minaret New Delhi


February 24th 1990.


Nehru, Gandhi Pilgrimage, and new friends.

Today we are to be on our own for the morning, as Dorothy has some packing and freighting home to do of the dozens of Indian carpets she has bought, wow, that lady can shop, I think she has captured the entire output from several carpet factories, and its only the best for our Dorothy too, some were just beautiful work.

Had another wonderful omelette breakfast and discovered that two more young people had arrived during the night, to join the tour we were to start on Monday.

Julie at Qintar Minar
  Sharon a young Auzzie girl and Dave an ex-kiwi living in London, we teamed up immediately by offering to take them to see the Chipmunks. While watching the wee animals we discussed what we intended to do for the morning, between us we decided on bargaining for a taxi and heading to the Qinta Minar a very graceful pink marble minaret, it was great to all go together and to get to know one another before the tour starts. I feel that both these young people will be good friends, and I was right.

Dashed back to Hotel to catch the Tenderfoot School Bus again for an afternoon of Nehru and Gandhi with Cedric as guide. First he took us to Nehru’s statues a series of the most beautifully carved statues of Nehru leading his people to safety, made of glossy black marble, most impressive but very hard to photograph! Then on to Gandhi’s home and museum where we wandered around learning lots of facts about Gandhi’s wonderful life.

Nehru leading his people to safety New Delhi
Imagine someone being ‘big’ enough to stand out so far from the masses when there are so many millions of people, oh yes he was a great man, and a humble one, no doubt about it. Then back to the bus to visit his Tomb, Not something we would do in our culture, but in Indian culture the tomb is very important and to be worshiped. I was quite happy to buy a pretty red flower to place on his impressive glossy black marble tomb in remembrance; there was ofcause an armed guard here too!

Then Cedric invited us back to his home to watch a video of the children from his school performing a re-enactment of the Rama story from their Hindu religion, for the rest of the afternoon. The children were adorable all dressed up to the nines in colourful silks and satins and put on great show. We watched this pageant while sitting on Shoba’s bed, as that’s where the VCR was; imagine how lucky we felt we were, to be not only in a real upper-class home but also even in their bedroom! Which was quite colourful with hanging saris or materials luxurious generally and comfortable.

Gandhi black marble tomb Old Delhi

I must describe a little of Cedric’s home, it is three storied, a tall narrow house, built, as they are over there, on the smallest amount of land as possible, Christopher was in the first floor guest room (maybe a schoolroom usually) and Dorothy on the second floor, where Cedric’s rooms were, the main living area was on the third. The stairway was made of marble slabs, as were all the floors in all rooms; this is for coolness as well as for beauty, the bathrooms had marble walls as well. There was a shower and a bath plus the toilet sitting proudly like a throne in about the middle of the room, most unusual placing, with no toilet paper ofcause as its not used in India. Julie and I decided the bathroom was pretty grotty really, but could be this was just ‘sour grapes’ on our part, not having marble bathrooms at home! Down stairs there was also an Indian hole-in-the-floor type toilet too. There were lovely Indian carpet squares on the floor in the lounge where their big cushions were, for us to sit on; there was a sofa too.

Rickshaw in New Delhi streets
Apparently, Dorothy told us, the elderly maid-servant of the household slept on these carpets at night with just her sari to wrap around herself, she owned nothing at all, but she did all the cooking and cleaning, probably without pay. At least she was well fed, slept indoors and was treated kindly! I am sure we saw the kitchens too but sorry I can’t recall just what they were like.

The first floor opened up out the back to make the Schoolrooms, the school was closed for holidays so we didn’t enter there. Weren’t we lucky it was holidays, it meant the chauffer driven school bus was at our beck and call any time.

Cedric despatched us back to the hotel to get changed for a further great treat, a Sound and light show to be held at the Red Fort later in the evening, there was much excitement about this event we also looked forward to it, but sadly it was not to be, the weather changed and the show was cancelled, much to all our disappointments. So after a quick meal I found Sharon and Dave and invited them to our room to broach the brandy bottle I had bought duty-free on the way over. The four of us had a lovely evening together over the brandy, much to Sharon’s amusement, she is a chemist working for Bundaberg Rum in Queensland and normally only drinks her own product!

We had a wild night of fun and excitement, talking and laughing very happily into the small hours, my last thoughts before sleep were; this tour is going to be great fun, I am so glad I came to India.


February 25th 1990

I awoke extra early with no hangover, decided to do my washing and then just enjoy a few peaceful moments looking out over New Delhi and writing letters home, while Julie slept • in our darn double bed.

Breakfasted with Sharon and Dave very happily before Christopher and Dorothy came for a last visit as there are leaving this evening, they joined the banter with us all, amazing how good it feels to be with your own Race now and again when far from home with same sense of humour. Our tour briefing broke up our little party as Julie and I, Sharon and Dave went to meet up with the rest of the 23 tour members from all over the world, I smiled and spoke to two young Canadian men Eric and John both very different but I just knew that we were going to be friends; and we still are all these years later! The tour briefing took an hour, mostly introducing each other and was interesting; everyone speaks English at least to some degree.

After the briefing Julie and I went to the hotel kitchen to pickup the very extra special Black Forest Gateau, for 100 rupees, (Julie and I shared the cost, but later she demanded her share back as we hadn’t eaten it) that I had ordered earlier to take as a farewell gift to Cedric and Shoba to thank them for their extra-ordinary hospitality, it was possibly the most over decorated looking cake I have ever seen, but apparently it is what Indian people love most and give as special gifts. It came all boxed up with ribbons and bows and glitter. Met again with Dorothy and Christopher to taxi back and deliver this sweet treat to our hosts. Both were overwhelmed with the cake and put it away for safekeeping, we never saw it again! But we spent a wonderful afternoon tea partying with them enjoying the fantastic cakes that their maid had created.

Cedric and Dorothy were not hitting it off as expected, although they got on quite well as pals, no marriage was going to eventuate here, in fact Cedric seemed to be most taken with me, he has me pegged as an intellectual (quite wrongly) and keeps taking me aside to give me little lectures on Indian history and culture; foods, class system, politics, and their very complex religions.

We were taken and introduced to the neighbours, a retired bank Manager and his wife for more afternoon tea partying, before being unexpectedly asked to stay for dinner before Dorothy leaves for New Zealand.

Julie and I were each presented with a red velvet bag with golden seals on it full of the most expensive, best tea grown in India they tell us, to remind us of our days in their home.

We had just finished a delightful dinner with the family, where Shoba’s son played the Sitar for us when unfortunately, Cedric asked just what we all did for a living, Julie’s office work for her Father wasn’t seen as great, my Bookbinding was very much so, but poor Dorothy who as well as baking cakes and loaves also cleaned houses to earn the money to travel, was suddenly seen as an ‘untouchable’ when she said she actually cleaned among other things; the toilets; completely beyond the pale, I saw his eyes change as she said it. Thank goodness she is leaving very shortly or this holiday would have changed greatly for her as ‘an untouchable’ lowest of the low in India.

It was then all of a rush loading suitcases and heavy bags for the big departure, Cedric and Shoba said goodbye at the house and we piled into the school bus for one last time to drop Christopher and Dorothy at the airport and us back to our hotel. We are both sorry to see the last of Dorothy it’s been a wonderful day in fact a wonderful five days thanks to Dorothy and her friends; God bless them.

Tomorrow our bus tour starts at 7.30am, fantastic, no more sharing double beds with Julie I sincerely hope and so does she.

kristinasub says:
wow, this is amazing good blog, and i think i'll be back again to write some things, this blog deserves that !
Posted on: Feb 20, 2008
reikunboy says:
once again a great blog
Posted on: Feb 09, 2008
michellepowell says:
Very interesting read, great details.
Posted on: Feb 03, 2008
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Qinta Minar Minaret New Delhi
Qinta Minar Minaret New Delhi
Julie at Qintar Minar
Julie at Qintar Minar
Nehru leading his people to safety…
Nehru leading his people to safet…
Gandhi black marble tomb Old Delhi
Gandhi black marble tomb Old Delhi
Rickshaw in New Delhi streets
Rickshaw in New Delhi streets
New Delhi
photo by: peeyushmalhotra