Day Seven

Old Delhi — A Poem

Keep your arms and legs inside the cart at all times
Don’t make eye contact, don’t lose your passport
If someone bumps into you, check your pockets

Isolated inside the crowded shell of the Capital city
The dirty, exotic, rough,
And exhilarating streets of Old Delhi
Twist and snake tightly
Through shops and food stands
The alleys growing progressively smaller with every turn

The conflicting smells of different street goods
Waft eagerly through my nose
Already exhausted by the nasal overload
Of new experiences

I turn left, then right
Then come to stop at the Brass market
The looming figures of metal deities
Fill my optical frame
Forcing me to step back and take a breath
Trying to take in the magnitude of the spiritual giants

I see a miniature statue of Hanuman
400 rupees, barks the store owner
About 10 dollars
200, I report back, eyes fixed, stare steady
In this manor we haggle for a bit
I keep by eyes intense and focused
I get the Hanuman for 200

Photo by Sadanand Ward Mailliard

The sounds and smells of Old Delhi meet me
Like a wave as I step into the street
Playing dodge ball with the passing carts and cycles
Frantically avoiding the blurs of people
Packed into the alleyways

The crowded streets are alive
I feel the pulse beat heavily
Just below the pavement

As I emerge from the winding labyrinth
Passport still in possession
Wits still about me
I look back at the writhing mass of people
Growing smaller and smaller
I feel the pulse of Old Delhi
Fade from its crescendo
And with a long smooth exhale
I feel my our heart beat

Slow and return to normal
-John-Nuri Vissell