A late breakfast and lunch shared with two group participants, we then met up with most of the group for an afternoon excursion into Old Delhi. Mostly we sat in traffic for the hour ride to walk through Jama Masjid (completed 1656), one of the largest mosques in India. On Sunday it was busy with families hanging out, taking photos, a few men praying. A staircase level above the crowded street, it offers views of the throngs of people and a distant view of the Red Fort. Its courtyard can hold 25,000 faithful. Locals find many ways to extract money from tourists: watch our shoes (that we have to remove), payment for permission to photograph, payment for a robe to cover women up even though we were already covered up, try to take selfies with us. But you can't blame them in an overpopulated country with high unemployment.
We'd visited the mosque in 2007, but this time we had a rickshaw ride through adjacent Chandni Chowk, the main shopping bazaar of Old Delhi. For nearly an hour we went down alleys teeming with people and goods. There was a rush on ornate wedding sarees while stalls of used books vied with street food looking unappetizing in the filthy conditions. Miles of electrical wires are draped from buildings to poles, hanging over the streets. The traffic was at a standstill at times while a car would honk and maneuver between rickshaws and pushcarts also honking to get through. Our driver would get off his bike and walk us through at times. Everyone honks, all the time; our ears hurt by the end of the ride. Sights, smells, noises all contribute to sensory overload. And much of the same outside of the city center, just the streets are wider and can accommodate more taxis, more tuk tuks, more buses. Even in the "quiet" of our hotel room, the honking continues.