This Sunday was one of those days when I tried to unravel the hidden meaning of that slogan 'Incredible India'. Went to see Red Fort. It looks magnificient from outside. The flag waving high makes you wonder how it would be from inside. In a nutshell - not too good.
It starts outside, where you have to buy a ticket. For the unitiated, Red Fort is one monument that almost every Indian recognizes. On a Sunday morning, we had all of 2 ticket windows. The booths are almost underground and there are no signboards. So you end up asking others, "Is this the line for tickets?" The speed is slow. There are arguments over change. And 2 ticket windows are closed.
It is vacation time and a lovely October Sunday and there are hundreds of visitors and you keep 2 ticket windows closed. Bye bye Operations Management principles. Folks aint there to see the ticket seller. I am sure many people just leave after seeing the long queues.
While the exteriors are certainly well kept, interiors leave you disappointed.
Dust left uncleaned, maintenance tools left unattended, odonil packets inside the supposed trasures from Mughal empire (trust me Odonil of all odours along with royal curtains, bedsheets and gowns), Pan spits left unpenalized...
The only thing that was well maintained was the lawn inside and outside the Fort.
What about the visitors?
Not too encouraging. I think we, Indians, are not even good tourists. Many were trying to sneak inside restricted areas. Or trying to test the toughness of glass protecting the antique items. Or ensuring that red fort remains red with their lovely paan spit. Is there a way to make people wash their mouths before they enter such places? Just enforce it. Just because the ticket is Rs.10 does not mean that the monument is there to waste. I really think that the ticket should be raised such that people start valuing what is inside. Make it Rs. 50 or even Rs. 500 to keep these spitting idiots away.
In the afternoon we went to the restaurant inside - Daawat (run by Samrat Hotels). While the menu claimed several exotic items, they had, for our information, highlighted in red (no - not stricken out but highlighted) those items that were not available. With 50% items gone, we learnt that only lunch items were served at that time (fyi, that time was 3.30pm). So we had a Paratha and tea/coffee. It took super long for these 3 extremely complicated items to arrive. I must admit the taste of all 3 was good - no complaints there. But then, the bill would simply not come. I actually volunteered to pay at the desk, then the calculator came out...
Finally, out of the fort, we wait for a good 20 minutes to get an autorickshaw. But that I guess is out of the purview of the tourism rant. That is back to Delhi's old ways.
My suggestion to folks in charge. Get the basics right. You really don't need any slogans after that. Else these lovely monuments are just relics abandoned as relics.