Just back from Purana Qila (a huge citadel built by an Afgan king in the fourteenth century, and intended to be the sixth city of Delhi, fact fans). The fort itself was very impressive, but the experience wasn’t entirely pleasant.
In the first instance, there’s the Indian tendency to attempt to abduct my daughter, which is already annoying. We were a bit confused by the first couple of guys who came up to us with cameras and babbled in Hindi. We thought they were offering to take our photo, and gave them short shrift. Later, I turned around to see Eva on some grass, surrounded by three men trying to position her for photographs with them. Blonde children are, it seems, an unusual sight, worthy of a photograph in their own right. She sticks out like the girl in the red jacket does in Schindler’s List. The locals don’t mean any harm, but my instinctive reaction to strangers crowding my daughter is, well, fairly assertive. They backed away as soon as they realised we had a problem, very apologetically. As I say, no harm intended, but I get the feeling this could happen quite a lot. Short of charging them ten thousand rupees a picture, there’s not much else to do except shout.
Kirsty received a lot of attention too, and much less harmless. She got the full force of the Indian equivalent of wolf whistles and obscenity when I took Eva onto a citadel wall she didn’t want to climb up. Very uncomfortable.
After those two incidents, I couldn’t stop noticing the stares and attention we were getting, just walking along. It’s like being exhibits in a zoo. I’m starting to think that, if we’re going to do much exploring in crowded places, I’m going to need an electric cattle prod to keep people back…