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Day 18 of The Candid Odyssey

There is a popular misconception that traveling is always thrilling. What do you think? Honestly, not always. Sometimes, it's exhausting and we won't even feel like waking up and going out. Mainly because there's no one waiting for us to show up unless we won't get out after checkout time :) Anyway, it's time to leave Agra. We are taking a bus to New Delhi, the capital of India. There was a co-passenger on the bus and we discussed about the journey. Our conversations went deep on relationships, responsibilities, the purpose of life, and much more. There is a common aspect that can be observed in all our conversations with strangers - everyone wants to travel like what we are doing, but can't do it because of many reasons. Lack of time, lack of confidence, lack of funds, lack of awareness, and so on. I think it's all about prioritizing and making compromises. Everything in life is just like that. What we prioritize gets done. For us, each of these compliments is like fuel to our onward journey. Proud of you for continuing with me so far!

Delhi is incredible. Well-organized areas, huge apartment complexes, extensive metro/subway/bus networks, modern infrastructure, and access to everything, all while preserving diversity and heritage. Also, don't forget that it's the second-largest city in the world by population. A lot of planning has gone into building and running this city. Commendable! We can hope that the pollution also will get better in the coming years. Interestingly, our accommodation in Delhi is in a busy market called Main Bazar in Paharganj. Main Bazar is extremely vibrant. Hundreds of shops, restaurants, and accommodations are packed in a tiny area, with a narrow road full of people, auto-rickshaws, bikes, cycle carts, street food stalls, and cows. Everyone is so busy and everything is moving so fast. It's so lively in such a way that we will bump into a vehicle, cow, or another person if we close our eyes for a few seconds! New Delhi railway station and metro stations are just at a walkable distance from here, which also adds to the crowd. A 1 Km walk through the street vibes leads us to the Comfort Stay Backpackers hostel. Inside, we get one bunk bed in a room shared by 10 people! Comfort stay, huh? There's nothing bad with that, as we just need a place to keep our stuff and lie down at night, safe and cheap :)

It's already evening, so what do we do when everything else is closed? Visit a shrine! Yes, we are going to Nizamuddin Dargah, a shrine of a revered Sufi saint, Nizamuddin Auliya. It's a special one for me because of the song ‘Kun Faya Kun’ which I used to listen to on loop. It's a song from the Hindi movie Rockstar. In that song, the hero is expelled from his home, hits rock bottom, and comes to the Dargah for hope and refuge. It's very emotional. Since I am also at my rock bottom stage, I can truly relate to it. And that connection to the song urged me to pick Dargah first. Sorry if you had other plans. Let's get in. We are taking the narrow passage that leads to the shrine. On both sides, there are vendors selling flowers, scarves, and religious materials. We can politely decline the offers and move forward, but later I realized that I was the only one without a headscarf inside the shrine! Anyway, our timing is perfect. The Qawwali (evening music session) is going on. A lead male singer with a harmonium and a small group of few other supporting musicians, all sit near the tomb floor and dedicate melodious devotional songs. We could stand there and enjoy. After a while, I sat down, then slowly moved towards the musicians, and eventually became part of the supporting musicians! Singing and clapping along to songs that we are hearing for the first time, without knowing the lyrics or meaning. Just went with the flow. It's truly mesmerizing and magical! Just like how it was for the Rockstar hero. After the music session, we could notice many people hurrying up for something. It's langar time. The dargah is home to many homeless people and the langar is a tradition of offering free food to those in need. I also queued up along with the homeless people and waited. Plates or covers are required to collect the food, but we don't have any. All I could find was a small plastic cover which I used to keep my first aid kit. We have no other way. I collected the Dal curry in that plastic along with two rotis. We accept the food with all due respect, sit beside the Dargah walls, and enjoy the food along with others who were on the queue. They are the ones who have no one to care, nothing to survive, and nowhere to go to, except the Dargah. It's a special feeling to have dinner with them. It makes us realize that we all are nothing more than just flesh and blood. Where is the ego? Where is the social status? Where are the posessions? Nothing really matters.

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