Well the India trip started in style. I flew business class on emirates from Dubai to Delhi. The flight itself was exeptionally short, so short that there wasn't even time to watch a movie on the flight. Instead all they showed were TV programmes. However I did manage to catch an excellent episode of Top Gear, one that I had not seen before. This episode was where the boys all went to Vietnam and had to drive 800 miles from the south of vietnam to the north. Well it was just priceless. They were only given 15 million dong to buy some wheels and all this could buy them were motorbikes. Well Jeremy was not impressed. It was so funny that I actually laughed out loud 3 or 4 times during the show. I am sure that the nice lady sitting next to me on the plane though that I was a little crazy.
Emirates had kindly arranged a limo transfer for me once I was in Delhi to my hotel. And boy am I glad that this was the case as the hotel that Intrepid uses is in the strangest part of town, and not too many people seem
to know where it is. It is in a market called Karbl Bagh (which I totally cannot spell). I think that the mercedes that I pulled up in is the smartest car that they have ever seen arrive at this hotel.
There are only 6 other people on the tour that I am doing. There is a married couple from Norway, 2 girls from the UK, a guy from Canada and a girl from Russia. So it is a nice small group. The tour leader is a local guy called Suneil Kumar.
This morning we started out our day with a stroll around Old Delhi. Now on the way in from the airport last night I had gotten a pretty good glimpse of Delhi. Once when we were driving past a guy on the side of the road I did a bit of a double take as the guy was dressed up all nicely in a suit and carrying a briefcase, but it looked and awful lot like he was peeing off the side of the road into the trees. But I thought surely not, he is dressed much too nicely and it is full view of everyone.
However after we had passed another six men (and one women) who were certainly peeing on the side of the road I came to the conclusion that he must have been. At the group meeting the tour leader told us that it is quite acceptable to go about doing your business in full view of everyone in India. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I got dressed this morning as I wasn't sure if the walking sandals that I had bought would be up for the task. Goodness only knew what I would find out there on the streets.
However it wasn't all that bad. It was quite similar to walking throught the streets of Amman of some of the rather bad parts of Deira. Our first stop of the morning was the local bus stop where Suneil made us all scramble up onto a local bus. This was quite an experience as I had always felt really sorry for the workers in Dubai who had to drive to work on what I thought were these really scabby buses. However after driven on a local bus in Delhi the worker buses in Dubai actually look quite
The traffic in Delhi is just hilarious. They drive just like they do in Dubai, but more crazy. Luckily all the cars are so old that they can't go very fast and most of the traffic is made up of rickshaws, and they drive like mad men. No indicators but a lot of hornage. And they will take on anything. "Oh look, a bus! I'll take you on and make you give way to me!"
The bus deposited us at the Jama Masjid. This the oldest mosque in Dubai and is supposed to be one of its more impressive buildings. However I was rather disappointed. After having lived in the middle east for 2 years I have seen a number of beautiful mosques, and quite frankly this mosque sucked. And what was totally weird was that they made the women put on full length clothing coverings but we didn't have to cover our heads. Very odd.
From the mosque Suneil took us on a bit of a tour of the streets of old delhi. These were actually quite quiet which was little surprising. Although there were still the full complement of suicidal motorcyle and rickshaw drivers.
After the walk through old delhi we stopped in at the Guru Gobind Singh Bhawan Gurdwara. A gurdwara is run by people of the Sikh religion. It is actually a small enclosed community and apparently the Sikh's give the gurwara 10% of their yearly income and in return they have access to health care, dental care, food etc if and when they need it. We went first of all into the main religious hall where a group of sikhs were reading from their holy book. It was really lovely as the sing as they read and the music was lovely, really peaceful after having been in the outside chaos for a few hours. From the main hall we stopped in to take a look at the community kitchens where they were in the process of preparing lunch. All the people working in the kitchens were volunteers. Pip and Jess had a go at making some roti. I didn't want to do it as my hands felt so dirty and I would have felt awful touching their food with such dirty hands. However looking around at the rest of the delhi I guess they probably wouldn't have noticed.
Gurwara we took the Metro into Connaught Square. In the metro station Jess tried to take a photo and a security guard with a huge gun came trotting over to her to tell her that she was not allowed to take pictures in the station. They have a general election coming up here soon and they are so sensitive about security here at the moment. Getting into the metro station was a bit of an experience. It was just like trying to get through an airport. You had to go through a metal detector and then you had to get your bag scanned. I can't even begin to imagine the kind of chaos that must cause at rush hour.
We had lunch in Connaught Square and then caught a rickshaw over to the Gahndi Museum just to discover that it was closed today as it is a Hindi Festival. However outside the musuem was a snake charmer, so it wasn't a totally wasted visit :)
So since we couldn't go and learn about Gahndi we decided to go over and take a look at India Gate which is a memorial to the soldiers of WW1. From there we
wandered up to the parliment and took a wee nosey around. By this stage in the day it was about 3:30pm and we were all gagging for a drink and a shower, so we decided to try and head back to our hotel to freshen up a bit. The temperature here is only about 35 degrees celsius so it isn't too hot, however the guide made me wear jeans instead of a skirt today so I was being broiled alive at certain times during the day.
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