Delhi India, January 9, 2007
This is the 'Red Fort'. It was built by the same man who had the Taj Mahal built. As Ayako, Aw and I approach the fort, a smiling Hindu woman grabs hold of me and pins a small Indian flag on my shirt. "Welcome" she says. "We represent the schools of Delhi..." but before she can finish her spiel, I smile back and thank her for the greeting and walk own. She starts yelling: "we want donation..." but I just wave and keep walking. This is the way here in India. Everyone seems to have an agenda. Everything costs money. Even a smile. I am learning to command my own space and not be pushed around by the constant demands on me from so many people looking for a handout. The three of us laugh as we ignore the woman who still tries to get my attention. We pay 200 rupees each ($6 CAD) and approach the entrance only to find there is a soldier pointing a rifle at us. We feel like the guests of honor at a firing squad. We walk through a gauntlet of souvenir stalls with merchants calling to us: "come inside. Looking is free..." We pass through to an inner courtyard but we find it is virtually deserted. There are some buildings and an inner museum of photos and some paintings but not much else. Aw gives me a side way glance and says: "Warning. Fort is beek tourist trap."