Friday, January 25, 2008

Disarming Smile


The Jama Masjid in Delhi, India, is one of the largest mosques in the country, and definitely one of the most impressive sights in the city. Comissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and finished in 1656, the mosque's central courtyard (pictured here) holds more than 25,000 people.

I spent an afternoon walking around the Jama Masjid, and while it was an interesting experience, I have to admit that it wasn't the friendliest place I'd ever been. In fact, I was followed around for most of the time by a large group of angry looking young men, who weren't looking like the local welcoming committee.

I did have a tour guide, a very friendly older gentleman, who from time to time would stop, turn, and cast a glare at the kids. While this caused them to shrink back temporarily, the teenagers still wore menacing expressions of the sort that suggested they'd be interested in using me as a pinata.

This little girl was one of the few smiling faces I saw inside the mosque. And that smile of hers lit up the courtyard like a huge bundle of roman candles. Washed away all the animosity I'd felt during the day. Her doll was cute too, although a bit on the shy side.

I snapped this photo and then watched her and some other kids running around the courtyard, laughing and chasing pigeons.

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