Qutub Minar and an Amazing Race spoiler of all things

 

Sightseeing is moving so low on my radar, I am getting worried. A little bit. At least a smidgen.
Still, for our last day in Delhi, we figured we should see something and, after quite an uninspired and protracted discussion, chose Qutab Minar as our destination.

The one thing that moves a site up on my experience radar is when it is not overrun with people. Being able to slowly and calmly look at what you are supposed to look at gives you time to actually take it all in, listen to your own thoughts and come out feeling like you have seen something. Otherwise the feeling is more like you are the piece of stale bread that chocked the giant and got spat out.

The Qutub Complex, set amongst green grassy and hilly surroundings, provides the former.

 

The kids were playing and running around the grass, shoes thrown to one side, while we managed to admire the carvings, joke around and take a few goofy self-portraits. Oh, the bliss of travel.

The pièce de résistance of the complex is the Qutub Minar, the tallest free standing stone tower in ze world. Even though it stands impressive with its more than 70m height, it is the intricate carvings around its shaft and decorating the 5 balconies that truly took our breath away.

From a far its just a boring pole amongst ruins.

But come close, and it turns into a work of art, so intricate you get lost in its detail.

We were ready to leave and decided to just walk quickly through the area we havent seen yet on the way out. At some point we get ushered aside and see the area in front, cleared of people, accommodating only a band in red, lining the exit from one of the small gates.

There were flags on each side of the gate leading to the grassy area, where a whole film crew is waiting. Bollywood! we are thinking and hoping. Wouldnt it be cool to see some Bollywood being filmed?! There are not many people around, only a few visitors that, like us, could not help their curiosity.

After a few minutes I get bored and grumble under my nose that we cant wait all day and should be making our way out. Just in time, one of the hovering around people calls “Incoming!” and suddenly everyone is scrambling and getting ready for something. Oh, great! I am thinking, its probably some kind of local celebrity or something.

More waiting.

Then horns start blowing, the band awakes, and two tourist looking women pop out of the little gate, run down the stairs and through the field. A Western movie?…an Indian movie about tourists? They look rather silly, so it could be a kid’s show…why backpacks though? Big fat backpacks? Oh! OH!

“Its the Amazing Race!” – a call out and I snap a shot before being scorned with a No Photos! call from the crew.

Winners of the first or second leg of Season Two

And now, dear readers, I will reward you for sticking with me, with a detailed behind the scenes description of what its like when contestants really arrive at their Pit Stop on the show. See, it pays.

The contestants arrive and then stop at the mat. After which the cameras are stopped and it could take a few minutes before they film the part where the host is telling them how they have done. In this time they are set up, positioned, people are talking and discussing something. One time the next contestants started arriving before they had filmed those before them – the band started playing and Grant Bowler, the neurotic looking host, started waving hands, shouting and running towards them until they stopped in a classic screeching halt.  Behind the cameras he is a bossy nutty ball of energy, but he still manages to smile on a cue once they start the filming of the second part of the arrival.

“Bla…bla…you are team number…bla”

 

After they are informed of their position, the contestants walk away somewhere, some of them stick around for some reason. What surprise me is that they all arrived within a few minutes of each other. There was no long wait or big gaps, as it seems on the show. Still, from what I can gather, they had teams walking the grounds who seemed to be looking for the couples and did not know from which end they will be arriving, although they were all directed to enter through the gate in question, although the way to the pit stop could be accessed through many other points.

"As soon as I get off my tight arse horse, I will tell you that you are safe"

 

The last couple arrived and this is when it really became strange. They ran and stepped on the mat, then the cameras were turned off and after a few minutes they still havent filmed the announcing part. Since at this time we still didnt know which Amazing Race we were seeing, we tried to ask around. A funny looking, again neurotic part of the crew guy answered under his nose to Mr.Blab’s American accented question “Uh, uh…different country” and scattered away.  We thought the local crew people will be less secretive and asked them, they said they were not supposed to say anything..but its the Australian Amazing Race.

By now we have moved closer to the final couple – a young woman and man – still waiting, although allowed to take their backpacks off. I had an idea of how we can find out if they are really Australian (or we were fed a go away lie). The kids didnt want to go with my plan, playing shy and all. I, myself, did not feel quite at ease to be shouting in the direction of the whole crew and risking looking like an idiot. Arent children supposed to be doing this stuff for us? Sheesh.

“Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” – I belted after a few minutes to the beat of my, by now, racing heart rate.

“Oi! Oi! Oi!” – bellowed Little B, encouraged that if mom is making a fool of herself, she can do it too.

Big knowing grins turned towards us. Certain contestants(dont want to get someone in trouble, so I wont elaborate) gave us thumbs up and hands in the air.  And we knew who was Australian and who was not.

Welcome to some of the first shots of Amazing Race Australia season 2. Leg One or Two – we did not count very well.

We left before seeing what happened to the last couple, they were still there, waiting on the mat.

 

Pièce de résistance