Category Archives: Delhi

Delhi Airport. 9th Oct 2016

 

Ok, where to start?

I suspect the best thing to do is apologise as I’ve missed so many days it will be almost impossible for me to catch up fully, if I try I’ll end up missing the current stuff so, What I’ll do is bring you up to date with stuff and just add bits as I remember them.

The trip with G Adventures has been full on, with early morning starts and long busy days but I have to state for the record, I’ve enjoyed every minute.

Well, thats not strictly true.

I am not a great one for Monuments.
I don’t visit churches or grave yards,
I don’t do Stately Homes, or the Royal Family or Ruins.

in Fact, Jaki and I had our only argument in France when i refused to go anywhere near the fortress in Carcassonne preferring instead to cycle up the canal.

With these knee’s walking round Museums looking at artefacts is a nightmare without the aid of Co codamol tablets by the bucket load.

No surprise then that a trip full of visits to Temples, palaces and shrines was some thing I was dreading.

But i did it, all but the Red Fort and the Baby Taj which I sacrificed on the alter of bone Idleness.

It was made easier by having Romi with us.

His anecdotes and constant support made it bearable. There was one particular Phrase he used which I looked forward to. After telling us some nugget of information he would say.

“This is one thing”. I loved it when he said that.

The company also made it easy, they took me under their wing and made sure I didn’t get lost or led astray by strangers. Thanks all.

Looking back at the last week, the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen, i’m glad I made the effort and I’m grateful to the Gang for their patients.

I think G Adventures did a great job in getting us from one place to another safely and on time. I wouldn’t like to try it as a lone traveller.

So, this morning we got up at eight ready for our taxi to the airport which Romi booked yesterday for 0930hrs.

Whilst Jaki wrestled with packing the suitcases I went down to reception to see if our Boarding passes were available.

in this modern age (where apparently the term ‘Courting’ has been replaced with ‘Seeing someone’) check in is done on line, which means you have to print out your own ticket, which is fine if your sat at home in your own office. It doesn’t work quite so well when you have no internet access and no facility to print. Most of the guys have i Phone 6 (or better) so they down load to their mobile and present that at the airport. However, my i phone 4 is almost steam driven so doesn’t offer the same options.

When we arrived back at the Hotel after our last meal on Saturday Night I tried to use their Computer.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get it to work so I asked for assistance. The 6 men in porters Uniform all tried to help by pulling out plugs and switching things on and off before declaring it F****d (broken).

They also advised that the printer was broken and had been sent for repair!

Luckily the owner was sat in reception and he barked out a few orders which sent the porters scurrying. He took me to his desk and offered me the use of his computer and after a few teething problems (he used Chrome and Yahoo) I was on Jet Airways web site but then the fun really began.

They wanted a whole load of information, passport numbers, dates of birth, e ticket number etc before I eventually got to the point of checking in. When i did the owner suggested i put the hotel e mail address, then they could send the boarding cards there and he would get them printed out. Result.

Which was just as well because there are swarms of small flies in Delhi at night and they like lights, white T shirts and white skin. By the time we’d finished on the computer we were both covered from head to foot in a grey dust of flies.

We went up on the roof later for a farewell drink and the flies were even worse up there swarming over everyone as they drank beer and played cards. We were told to cover the gap in our cans with tissues so the flies couldn’t get in.

Which is why I went to reception early this morning, to collect our passes.

There was a lot of scratching of heads, further bouts of unplugging and plugging in the already defunct computer before they declared defeat and phoned the boss. After a long telephone call they said ‘It was Coming’ and i was sent back to my room to wait. Two further visit got the same response and at 0930 when our taxi arrived we still had no boarding pass.

As a plan B i got onto the Jet Air web site and edited our account sending the boarding passes to my email address and within seconds they appeared on my lap top.

Not having a boarding pass  could be problematic as you have to show it even before your allowed into the terminal building.

At this point, the boss arrived and I was whisked off to another Hotel just down the road where he opened his emails and declared.

“They haven’t sent your boarding passes”.

So, I went back to our hotel, grabbed my lap top and took it back to the Bosses office where i forwarded the email to his e mail address. They quickly popped up on screen and he printed them out without further ado.

Back at the Hotel we were shown to our taxi which was the size of a small suitcase and the porters were loading and re-loading the three sets of baggage ( Nehema was traveling with us as she’s on the same flight ) in an attempt to get it in the car which they did before realising there was no space for the passengers.

The big Boss came out, shouted some orders and the Taxi disappeared to be replaced by some thing slightly bigger which did allow us all to get in with the bag’s stored safely in the boot.

The trip to the airport was relatively easy. Being Sunday there was very little traffic and we soon found ourselves at the airport where our driver was clearly unhappy with the 3o Rupee tip I gave him. (the 500 Rupee fare was paid to the Hotel before we left).
Once in the terminal we found our check in, got rid of the bags and then tried to change our left over Rupees back into US Dollars.

Put aside half a day to do this as the paperwork and bureaucracy is typically Indian with lots of duplication, stamping and signing of forms. Eventually we got about $60 which hardly seemed worth the trouble.

Going through security was yet another Indian ritual which required various combinations of Passport and boarding pass, scanning and body searching. All women had to go in one queue as they were taken inside a cupboard one at a time where the curtain’s were drawn before they could be searched. I assume this is to guard women modesty?

Once through we went looking for breakfast and avoided all the curry and Thali offerings settling instead for good old McDonalds.

Well, Indian McDonalds where they offered a Mc Paneer, a McSpicey Vegetarian Masala meal as well as the big one, the Maharaja Meal with double everything.

I had the spicy Chicken burger which was definitely spicy!

We then want in search of some duty free alcohol to take to Bangkok.

There was the usual range of very expensive, very fancy, almost unheard of Whiskey’s that were targeting the wealthy Indian who see’s whiskey as part of the European Image they try so hard to emulate.
I settled for two halves of famous Grouse in plastic bottles which were still much more expensive than the Co-op but were easier to carry.

The queue at the check out was three deep due solely to the over complicated, bureaucratic system employed.

First boarding pass and passport, scan both.

Then scan bottles, rescan for good measure.

Slip white expanding protective cover over bottles.

Source a clear plastic bag, scan bag, place bottles individually in bag.

Seal Bag. Scan seal. stick label over bag.

Collect payment. refuse credit card in Pounds and insist on Rupees or Dollars.

Take payment and count it.

Hold it to light to check it.

Put each note into a machine to do some thing that I couldn’t understand.

Take similar notes out of Till, unwrap elastic band, place new notes on pile, re tie with elastic band.

Place back in till.

What a bloody palaver.

Then finally an 11 minute walk to our gate where at last i could sit down and catch my breath and its still only 1230.

The jet Airways flight was full, crowded and not very comfortable though it was only 3 hours 40 minutes. We were lucky, we sat next to a Young Indian Guy on his way to China to do a lecture on IT.

He spoke great English had a knowledge of politics, sport and cricket so we chatted all the way which helped to pass the time.

At Bangkok airport  Jaki had to leave the queue for immigration to head for the little girls room in a bit of a hurry but the process of getting through, getting our bags and leaving the airport building was so easy compared to Delhi.

We knew the way to the Public Taxi rank on the ground floor but they have changed the system some what. Now its automated so you stand in a queue get to the screen, press the button and you are allocated a bay number. You then go to that bay number and your taxi is waiting.

We had Bay 21: Mr S Loth Taxis Inc .

This should have been a warning. He was the slowest bloke Ive ever met.

Not his driving which was fine and even a luxury compared to Delhi.

It took him ages to close the door, for ever to open a window and he just could not lift the cases up into the boot.

Good job Jaki was here to lift the bags, and a stone lighter, so at her peak fighting weight!

He didn’t know the Chatrium so I showed him the address on an email and he knew where it was. So we were off.

He found it first time , charged 500 Baht including the 75 Baht Toll charge and here we are sat on the balcony 18 floors up, looking out across the river with a bloody big whiskey in front of me and a smile a yard wide.

Thank you God for letting me be here, for letting me have this life, these friends, these experiences!

You might also be in line for a ‘Big Up’ yourself for letting me loose on the world, but that’s just my opinion and may count for nothing!

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Exploring Delhi.3rd October 2016

Day two started at 0600 which is a bit early for this old couple. In fact, it was a bit early for most of the group, especially the two boys who stayed up all night watching the Rider Cup on their TV.

We met in the restaurant at 0700 and were checking out and onto the bus just after 0800.

The first stop was in Delhi.

We rendezvoused with a Guy from ‘Street Kids” (a charity supported by G Adventures) who was going to ‘show us round the back streets of Old Delhi’ and give us an insight into his life on the streets.

The tour started by taking us across some waste ground where waste and rubbish was dumped. Rats were dodging in and out of holes in the walls and there was a very bad smell of rotting food from a mountain of polystyrene fast food containers.

Once through this under belly we were engulfed in the narrow streets and alleys of Old Delhi.

Following our tour guide in single file we were strung out over about 20 metres with Jaki and I bringing up the rear.

My fears about the age difference between us and the group seems to be unfounded and they took on their responsibilities a my ‘main carer’s’ without complaint, ensuring we weren’t cut adrift in the sea of bodies as we brought up the rear of our convoy, snaking through the narrow streets.

 

narrow-alley-delhi
Narrow alley. Old Delhi

We stopped at a junction and our guide told us this wall was often used by Men to urinate so, local’s had put up religious Icon’s and picture’s which had immediately stopped this unwanted behaviour.

religious-picture
No Pee-ing sign

The power of religion.

We proceeded on and quickly entered a doorway which was the head office of Street Kids. It was very old and a little eerie. Bare stone step’s with concrete walls Woven with a latticework of wrought Iron rails offered a hand grip and security against intruders.

Pigeon dropping and grey dust covered every surface creating a surreal Halloween environment fit for the very best Hammer Horror could offer.

We climbed up several floors and squashed into a small office dominated by a huge air conditioning unit.

The walls were adorned with pictures of street kids from the past who had ‘made Good’ and we were told with obvious pride where each one was now and what they had achieved. Some, like our guide, were working for Street kids talking to visitors and promoting the project.

We were even shown a picture of Prince William and Kate who had apparently visited the project and were keen supporters.

The guys own story was full of Irony and it could easily become a Religious Parable of epic proportions.

His Father was an Imam and wanted him to follow in his footsteps, however he wasn’t good at memorising the Koran so his father used to beat him. At the age of 10 he ran away and by pure chance found himself on the streets of Delhi where he lived for a year or so. At some stage he was found by his father who took him home but the cycle began again and it wasn’t long before he was back in Delhi. He eventually heard of Street Kids and came to live in one of their Hostel’s where he was fed, clothed and educated.

The Irony of a Father beating his child in order to make him religious is not lost on me and I think back to my Mums experiences in a pre- war Catholic School where the Nun’s took a sadistic pleasure in punishing the children in their care.

What we do in the name of religion?

We left the office and went to a home for current street Kids.

This again was in an old building with a locked door set in the wall off a narrow street full of shops and alcoves where men squatted on the floor making or repairing things that we in the west would discard without conscience.
Climbing the steep stairs the echo of voices could be heard. It reminded me of times past we had to enter Horfield prison to deal with an inmate who had set fire to his mattress. The hard surfaces spitting noise back at you with venom. Cheers and jeers mixed into a cocktail of sound that seemed to have no human origin. Trapped between the locked doors and the barred windows.

The first floor was a dormitory where even at this time some people were sleeping

The top floor was different. this was alive with noise. Shrieks and laughter could be heard and when we stepped out into the sunlight we were greeted by a bunch of smiling faces all keen to say “Hello” and shake hands.

tough-kids

Boys (they were all boys, I think the Girls are housed separately) of all shapes and sizes were vying to show us their talents at Thumb Wrestling and hand clapping games. One rather boisterous young fellow was keen to show his strength and encouraged us to let him Punch our palms as hard as he could.

kids-5

The centre of the floor was a metal grill so you could see down onto the floor below. Tin pans were stacked in a corner by a running tap and a guy sat peeling potatoes ready for cooking. Was there a slight smell of disinfectant or did i invent this?

We spent maybe 15 minutes there and you couldn’t help be moved to know that these kids had no home (other than that dishevelled building) no family and until Street Kids, no future.

Poverty is ever present here in India. It is a reality.

It isn’t hidden or denied, it is accepted , accommodated and when possible, challenged.

In acceptance we see people sleeping in the Tuk-Tuk’s with which they earn their living or the less fortunate, sleeping on a mat at the side of the road, like the big Bullocks that seem to have no fear of traffic. All the while big car’s drive by honking their horn’s in frustration at the perceived obstacles slowing them down.

Challenging poverty, people seem to take the matter into their own hands and try to make a Rupee where ever they can. There is almost no activity which doesn’t generate a small ‘Tip’ pronounced ‘Dip’ by our tour leader (who I have taken to calling ‘Romi’ though Ive no Idea why. I got our taxi driver’s name wrong on the way to Heathrow and I’ve known him 10 years).

There is a tip for the taxi drivers, the waiting staff, the hotel staff, everyone expects to be tipped.

This may offend our Western sensibilities. Surely you only Tip when you get good service?

But here it’s a Social tax.

A method of distributing wealth to those that most need it. It is encouraged as part of the culture. Restaurants automatically add 5% service charge to a bill but you are expected to add a further 5% in cash which is guaranteed to go to the Staff and not the owner.

Our group have agreed to give Romi 700 Rupees each so he can distribute this as Tips to the relevant people (we often see him handing money to various people) on our behalf.

As well as the Hawkers trying to sell you sun glasses, fake watches and todays speciality (we’ve been to the Taj Mahal) Fridge Magnets, there are the obscure, unexpected way’s people have developed to make a few Rupees.

Like the Hotel Maintenance guy who offered to provide me with ‘Good Wine’ after he came to the room to check our fridge. Or the friendly guy who took us to the best photography spot’s at the Taj and when I thanked him by giving him 100 Rupees he asked if it was quite enough?

I can see some might find this annoying but it is in fact rather amusing, and entrepreneurial in a charming way.

Also, the sums are relatively small so a tip of 100 Rupees (just over a quid) aint gonna break the bank. Though i might have given some one 1000 Rupees tip yesterday thinking it was a 100 Rupee note but hey.

That’s what happens when Jaki trusts me with money!

We said our good byes to the Street Kids tour Guide and wished him well for the future, then made our way back past the Holy Pissing wall, across the waste land of debris to the main street where we waited for our bus to pick us up and take us to our next port of call a Mosque, which wasn’t the highlight of the tour.

After the Mosque we set off on a walk through the market area of Delhi. Narrow streets where humanity pushed and crushed each other. People still insisted on driving motorbikes through the throng which necessitated blowing their horns furiously to warn of their presence, even though there was no where for us to go. Tricycles, some towing home made wooden carts loaded with goods or passengers were an ever present but silent danger as they crept up on you from behind without warning.

Well, except the guy who make ‘Purp-Purping’ noises with his mouth in the absence of a proper horn.

It was extremely hot and very claustrophobic and the smells, Incense, cooking food, sewage and body odour combined to assault the senses and deliver mild nausea in even the most robust of characters. We were all glad when we burt out onto a wide street teeming with noise and traffic.

Our next visit was a Sikh Temple. This was far more interesting. Guarded by Sikhs carrying short curved daggers (some carried spears) they looked dignified and resplendent even if their clothes were a little thread bare and their beards pure white. They added the threat of violence which is I understand symbolic.

holy-book
The Holy Book

We took off our shoes, covered our heads with bandanas (they didn’t do an extra large) and entered the Temple. There was a three piece playing indian music and a guy sat on a raised Dais at the centre of proceedings. He was apparently looking after the Book. The Book is the centre of the Sikh religion which doesn’t accept God has a particular form or shape.

Therefore they worship the book to which they attribute a soul (very Harry potter) as a result, the book needs to rest each evening, so it is put away in a secure place.
This place has become as revered as the book itself and people prostrate themselves in front of it.

We visited the kitchens which cook food on an industrial scale and offers worshiper’s free food.

bill-making-bread-2
Making Bread.

The people working in the Kitchen did so for free as a way of Giving some thing to the community where they didn’t have money.

David Cameron Big Society wasn’t invented at Tory Party HQ then?

Once done we set off back to the bus which by now was stuck in the most horrendous traffic jam and we sat there for over an hour before we got free of this gridlock.

Once on the Motorway (Toll Road) we didn’t seem to be making any better progress. The bus it seemed had a top speed of 40 miles an hour and even if it were able to go faster the state of the roads would have prevented it.

Sat at the back of the bus (so sought after when i was at school and we’d go on a School trip. These were the seats where you might ‘get a snog’ or you could light up a Fag without the teacher noticing) Jaki and I were subject to a significant amount of turbulence.

Unfortunately for us these were the ‘Rock and Roll Seats’ the ‘Roller Coaster Ride seats’ as a result of the body work protruding about 2 metres over the rear axel which in itself had little or no suspension.

We were thrown around like a Bonus Ball in the Lottery.

If I didn’t have a dodgy stomach when we started, I did at the end and the journey lasted about 5 hours to Agra.

Thats not including the stop at the Mazala Cafe, a sort of Indian Motorway service station, where we had the best Vegetarian Thali to date.

(Given I’d not tried Paneer before, I have now had it 5 times in 3 days and its wearing a bit thin).

We eventually got to our Hotel the Atithi early evening.

I was pleasantly surprised. It was more modern than the last one, offered good size rooms’, had working air-con and hot showers. It even has a Pool.

bedroom-hotel-atishi
Hotel Atithi

We agreed to meet up and visit a local restaurant that offered a Buffet dinner but when we got there we were the only guests.

our-group-meal-2

The Buffet table looked deserted and there was a distinct lack of a Buzz about the place. But it was too late to turn back.

Most of us settled for the Buffet set menu though one or two preferred to order individual meals for fear of food poisoning if the buffet had been kept warm, though there was no fear of that given it was switched off.

When the meal was delivered (Starting with a clear Soup that had no taste and looked like weak tea) it became obvious that the ingredient distinctly resembled that of a Thali, the only difference being, these were served in steel bowls and the Thali tends to come on a tray.

bill-playing-the-sitar-2
Sitar Lessons

Even more bizarre, the individual meals ordered from the A la-Carte menu didn’t half look like the food served up as part of the Buffet!

I wonder if ???

First full day in Delhi 2nd October 2016

Bit of a mixed day really.

We slept really late and when we got up we weren’t  quite sure what to do.

So we took a walk down the main road toward the market. It was hot, dusty, very busy and extremely noisy. Everywhere there was traffic and it didn’t seem to have any structure. At the major junctions cars, Tuk-Tuks and rickshaws all jostled for places with scooters and people. It was a ‘Dog eat Tuk Tuk’ environment and no one gave ground.

The poverty is ever present. Litter piles up on every corner.  Mangy dogs keep one eye (some only have one eye) on the traffic whilst foraging amongst the waste for food.

Workers take on tasks with basic often inappropriate tools.I watched a guy chasing out a wall ready for an electric cable or a water pipe, using only a claw hammer and a wood chisel.

Old children’s toys are recycled, repaired and resold in shabby little workshops that are no bigger than my greenhouse.

We were swamped with hawkers trying to sell fake watches, Sun glasses and of all thinks, rugs and blankets. Sadly one or two were very persistent and wouldn’t take ‘NO’ for an answer. A far cry from the pleasant banter with the street traders in Thailand.

So we cut short our expedition and returned to the Hotel for lunch.

The food was pretty good though the ambiance of the roof top restaurant left a lot to be desired.

We are being cautious about what we eat and drink, and perhaps just as importantly, what we eat with and drink from. But there is only so much you can do without being paranoid.

We did watch one of the staff fill a jug with chilled water from a big chilling machine, drink straight from the jug, then put it back ready to serve iced water to the guests, which does demonstrate the sort of challenges a tourist faces here.

At 6 pm we met up with our fellow travellers most of whom are late twenties early thirties making us the oldies. Most are from the UK though there is one couple (Aric pronounced like Eric but with an A) and his partner Marta from Norway.

After our introductions and some more mandatory form filling (mainly replicating all the other paperwork we’ve already done) we all set off for a local restaurant. unfortunately our Guide who calls himself Roma (or some thing similar) took us on a hike through the now dark but just as frantic streets pointing out on route a cash machine, big news here in Delhi and a Hindu shrine that looked very much like a Ratner’s jeweler in Bedminster, before eventually  stopping at the Restaurant.

The food was very different to that which were familiar with in the Frampton Balti with the majority of meals being vegetarian. Paneer  being the main ingredient.

menu-in-restaurant

Jaki and I both went for Chicken dishes which were OK but had very little heat and if I’m honest wasn’t very tasty. Sad to come all the way to India only to find they cant cook Curry properly.

first-delhi-curry

I asked if there was any chilli and they brought fresh green chilli’s on sticks which  was novel and our group seemed to enjoy.

We made some initial chit-chat with our fellow traveller but did I ‘Feel the Love’ immediately? I wonder whether we will make any friend here or whether the gap is just too wide?

Time will tell.

I managed to get Roma to book  Jaki and I a Taxi for the return journey though none of our fellow travellers wanted to share with us, preferring instead to continue the walk.

I suspect we will find ourselves taking our own path again before the week is out.

 

 

Travel to Delhi. 1st October 2016

The Trip from Bristol to Delhi was fairly painless and uneventful, though I can’t say the same for the Taxi ride from the Airport to our Hotels which had enough thrills and spill’s to satisfy the most adventurous traveller.

We used Chipping Sodbury Taxi’s for the ride up to terminal 5 and called Ben our driver “Bob’ all the way. Good start!

Terminal 5 is relatively easy on the passengers with good system’s and short queue’s.

Even the staff were friendly!

We did possibly find the worst Wetherspoon’s I’ve ever used.

It seems they abandoned the ‘business model’ for profit at Heathrow, and it tells.

The menu offered a range of ‘Tea’s” but they only had Breakfast and it wasn’t very good.

Jaki had the worst Bacon Buttie I’ve seen in ages with dry white bread though my porridge was tasty

porridge-wetherspoons-heathrow
Wetherspoons Porridge

Our flight was relatively pleasant. We’d chosen the last row of seats at the back which are a pair so we had no one to interrupt us, a window and an isle seat and easy access to the toilet’s. Though because its open to the galley it was particularly draughty so we made good use of the blankets provided.

wing-tip
Flying into the Sunset

 

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Flying over some Dodgy places

We were given two meals during the flight. The first one i chose was a Paneer Korma ( my first Paneer) the second, a Chicken dish with Mash and carrots. Both of which were pretty good.

The in flight entertainment left a bit to be desired. The screen’s were very small, picture quality poor and the variety and range on offer seemed limited. They did appear to have a good selection of films but the Country music selection in ‘Audio’ was poor.
Cindy Lauper, Country Music???

If, as suggested, Jonathan Ross had reviewed these offering’s he needs to get out more.

We arrived in Delhi at about 11 or 1130 in the evening.

As we left the plane the heat and humidity hit like a brick.

There was a very long walk from the terminal to the immigration desk and then an even longer wait to be processed.

On the plane we had been given immigration cards to complete which we presented with our Visa and passport then they took a further photograph and scanned our finger and thumb prints. Both hands.

This became a bit of a farce.

By using this High Tech system they hope to record everyone entering the country but the technology let them down.

The Finger print scanner seemed to have a high failure rate. One guy appeared to be impossible to scan even when the supervisors were called in. There was a lot of wobbling heads, scanning and re scanning but they could not get a satisfactory result.

This delay was repeated at every desk which caused the huge build up of tired frustrated passengers.

The lounge started to look like the migrant camp at Calais.

Once through we found a screen that told us our baggage was on carousel number 10. However, by the time we got there it was carrying bags from the Moscow flight. London was a distant memory.

There was a bit of ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ before we discovered our suitcase on the floor in a corner of the baggage hall.

At last, we finally made it out of the baggage hall and through the door where we were met by a wall of notices with peoples names on them. Hundreds of couriers or taxi drivers all waiting to meet passengers from various flights.

Everyone that is except us.

Eventually Jaki saw a G Adventures sign and we asked if they were expecting us. 

A young guy asked if we were Simmons and Hendy?

He then whisked us off to another part of the building where we were told to wait for our driver.

After about half an hour ‘she’ arrived.

G Adventures use ‘Women on Wheels’ a local charity that supports women drivers as a way of allowing them to work and earn a living.

Our driver told us to follow her and we set out on yet another hike to the car park where a very small car was waiting for us.

On route we stopped and bought two bottles of water from a Kiosk.

Even though it was 30+ degree’s the guy had a gas fire going full belt, which was melting the slices of Pizza for sale on the counter.

Our bags were crammed into the front seat and we were crammed into the back. When our driver stopped to pay the parking fee we became the centre of attention from all the other (Male) drivers. We suspect Women on Wheels is still a novelty here in Delhi.

As we left the terminal we had our first “Close Encounter of the Third kind”.

The first encounter is a near miss.
The second encounter is a near miss with Horns blowing.

The third (and most critical) is a near miss that makes the driver stop and take deep breaths.

We had two one these within 100 yards.

The exit from the airport is via a one way system.

However, local Taxi drivers in their haste to get a fare, choose to drive the wrong way. Even worse, they do it with their lights switched off!

Presumably they think they become invisible then?

This was our initial introduction to driving in Delhi, an activity that should be on everyones Bucket List, though it might hasten the end quite considerably.

There seemed to be no rules on the road except one.

Keep you hand firmly pressed on the horn at all times.

The only problem with this is that everyone else is doing the same.

Honking it seems is a way of life.

Honking when you overtake is a must and some of the big lorries actually have a sign on the back asking drivers to honk when they overtake.

The trip was about 40 minutes before we arrived at the Grand Park Inn.

Now theres two things wrong with this name.

First, it aint Grand and second, theres no park.

It sits among some rather squalid looking shops, a few street stalls and a vehicle repair shop. Its on a busy main road so the Honking continues all night and to be honest, its a bit run down. However, this is India and we didn’t pay for a 5 Star stay so its about what we expected.

view-from-our-window
View from our window

In reality, its reasonably comfortable. We slept well even though the pillows are about the same shape and size as a packet of Wet Wipes.

The Air Con is Noisy but works, theres a ceiling fan, fridge, flat screen TV but no coat hangers. There was though a Comb and some cotton bud’s in the drawer which might come in handy?

facilities-in-the-drawer

 

A plastic bucket in the shower and a Jug by the loo though I dread to think what they are used for.

seating-area
Our Air-Con

There were about 4 staff on duty when we arrived and two of them showed us to our room which meant two lots of tips.

Were currently dishing out 100 Rupee (80 Rupees to the £ ) notes as this is the smallest currency we have.

When we went to reception this morning there were six men on duty, there were at least 4 men in the kitchen at lunch time but we haven’t seen anyone cleaning which is a pity cause thats what this place really needs.

We slept till 1130 this morning and to be honest I would have slept even longer but Jaki was raring to go. It seems the honking kept her awake!

Well, welcome to my world.

So we took a walk down the road to the local market where they seem to sell more crap than you could shake a stick at.

WE were constantly pestered by Tuk Tuk drivers who want to take us to the Government market. We had fake watches and a variety of sun glasses thrust in our faces and we were befriended by a very nice young indian guy who told us he worked in IT, had nothing to sell but then tried to get us to got to the Government Market all the same.

walking-to-the-market
Walking to the Market

After 30 minutes in the heat we were wilting and the constant barrage of people trying to sell us stuff was beginning to tell.

So we turned around and walked back to the Hotel and the comfort of our beautiful room, with air-con.

We had lunch in the roof top restaurant which sadly had sheets dropped all around it which obscured the view.

roof-top-restaurant
Roof top Restauurant

Jaki had a Veg Thali at 180 Rupees and i had Hot and Sour Soup.

It was all fresh cooked and rather tasty. The Thali had a Paneer curry, Potato and Celery, Boiled rice, a side salad (which she left as its probably washed in local water and unsafe for us soft Westerners) a Chapati and a popadom. It looked and tasted great.

thali-close-up

My soup had Chilli in it. I mean it had Chilli in it, and nothing else.

Well, there was some black pepper but no other ingredients that i could see. At 80 Rupees it was really tasty and cheap.

So were back in the room. Jaki is snoring softly, the Honking is continuing and the air-con unit is doing its best to vibrate out of the window, but its becoming home.