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Chapter one - New Delhi

sunny 32 °C

Day 1: Paharganj, New Delhi 30/09/2011

Nothing could prepare us for the abject poverty, horrendous sights and epic crowds of people on the first day of our trip, but then all London airports are the same…

Great flight over to New Delhi to start us off, though Gemma’s first act in India was to get herself into trouble. It seems the people on passport control do not take kindly to people ducking under the ropes for the queue! Haha typical Gemma!

The contrast between the ultra modern, slick and clean airport of New Delhi and the ensuing chaos that reigned supreme outside could not have been more marked. After fulfilling a lifelong dream and having a driver wait at arrivals with our name on a board, we embarked on our introduction to the lawlessness of New Delhi’s roads and the startling combination of horns, cows, motorbikes, rickshaws and huge number of Hyundai I10’s.

We arrived at our hotel in Paharganj, New Delhi, a bizarre bazaar district in the centre of the city. After being led down the tightest of alleyways strewn with sleeping dogs and old holy men, we were able to check into our hotel. The Kuldeep Guest House was basic but adequate and perfect for our first night in India.

The Paharganj area we were staying in was a real beehive of activity with hundreds of shops, market stalls, alleyways kitchens and distinct districts including the laundry quarter, grocery market, electronics district, etc. The mix of people, smells, sights, colours and the sheer volume of traffic packed into the small streets was very in your face but exciting, fun and interesting in equal measure.

Retired, to watch a Bollywood classic. Knucklehead starring the Big Show.

Day 2: Paharganj, New Delhi 01/10/2011

Woke up at six am (I know!) and we were straight out the door. Went to the railway station to try to book tickets to Agra and the Taj Mahal and were repeatedly duped by scam artists and rip off merchants who tried to send us to their friends’ ‘official government tourist office’ to book tickets. Told we look ‘new to India’ by one such trickster.

Having lost faith in humanity, with everybody in sight trying to take the proverbial, we walked to Connaught Place in the centre of the city and relaxed in the very smart central park. With people exercising and playing football we could have been at Platt Fields.

Walked back to the hotel after breakfast (dosas – very greasy) we were told our hotel was full for the night and we could not stay there. The manager kindly informed us they had another property a couple of minutes away and his skivvy proceeded to lead us down a maze of Beirut-esque side streets and alleyways. No chance. Booked in elsewhere.

Read up on the official tourist ticket office at the railway station and marching, head down on a mission we were able to walk straight in, book the tickets we needed and left feeling very pleased with ourselves and flicking v’s to all the touts and scammers we had seen on our first trip.

Took an auto-rickshaw to India Gate. We both loved the power the driver had weaving in and out of the traffic armed only with his horn, and arrived at India Gate to see this impressive monument and watch some people playing cricket in the park.

A quick dinner of biryani and aloo panthak for me, pasta for Gemma and we were away. Left the hotel room for some water after wrestling to get the mossie net up due to the midges that had invaded during the day and was accosted by some street beggars who seemingly came from nowhere out of the darkness. Uncomfortable and an eye opener to say the least but a sad fact of life in India it seems.

Day 3: Paharganj, New Delhi 02/10/2011

Wow, actually slept- woke up at ten. Another Bollywood offering in Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone on HBO.

Went for lunch at ‘Nirvana’ a cool hippy bar right in the middle of Paharganj. I got particularly freaked out as I thought I saw Billy in there! Must have been the fumes coming off the incense sticks…

Took a tuk-tuk to Red Fort, passing some of the craziest places we have ever seen. Crazy traffic, crazy people, crazy outdoor markets. Think they were doing a special on particularly impressive fake playboy, adidas and ReeDok (haha) gear. Knives, scissors, chains, trainers, you name it, it is available on the main market in Delhi. Absolute madness on the streets, with people sleeping on the curb of the central reservation of 8 lanes of traffic.

Red Fort was very very hot and after taking one look at the queue to get in we decided to people watch instead of entering the fort. However, a Germanish couple asked us where to buy tickets and did we know that foreigners got to skip the queue. Result. In we went. Very impressive and old and historic and stuff inside, though foreign tourists did have the pleasure of paying 25 times more than Indian residents for the experience. Could tell the man working there was very powerful as he carried a stick. First experience of being stared at and photographed by the Indian public. Have they not seen white people before?

Tuk-tuk back – eventful. One rickshaw driver was slapped and pushed by a policeman. Old school eh Dave!? Our driver kept trying to rip us off. Dinner at same place as lunch. Gemma had a curry!

Posted by tevs 09:00 Archived in India Tagged new delhi Comments (1)

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