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Published: April 16th 2010
same vehicle as in Calcutta, just a different paint scheme and maintained much better (also quieter)
It appears that our first impression of India was a bit overstated. Now that we’ve arrived in Delhi, the country doesn’t look so bleak. It’s still a developing nation with all the attendant issues, but what we’ve seen so far is so far removed from the squalor of Calcutta, that it doesn’t even seem to be the same country.
Our taxi ride from the airport was nearly pleasant. There are large, wide streets, very little honking and semi-courteous drivers. Some vehicles even have a sticker on the bumper or rear window that says “do not honk.” How refreshing!
The temperatures are still oppressive but it is a pleasant newer hotel that we have chosen for our last couple of nights in India. The hotel was built in 2008, the room is spacious, we each have a bed to call our own. The desk staff is helpful and friendly and have arranged tours for us for the next two days - Agra (Taj Mahal) and city tour of Delhi.
Our plan was to go to Agra on Monday to make sure that we got in that tour. It is about a 4-hour drive one way and we don’t want
memorial to the military who have died in the country's wars
to miss the Taj Mahal. When our driver arrived at the appointed time of 8 AM he suggested that we do the city tour first as many sights are closed on Monday. Sure enough some museums, etc. were closed Monday, but it’s no big deal to us.
We saw a half dozen or so sights, including the India Gate and Rashrapai Bavan (the Prime Minister’s residence). These and the other sites are quite impressive, but what sticks with me most is the deep contrast between New Delhi and Calcutta.
First, Delhi is the old part of the city with narrow, crowded streets and New Delhi is the part of town like a first ring suburb that has wide avenues and traffic movement is much more civilized. There are no piles of garbage in the streets and most of the cars are private autos. They still have taxi cabs of the same manufacture as in Calcutta, but the paint scheme (black with a green strip versus all yellow) is different and they honk less. Oh, did I mention that they don’t honk as much here?
The addition to the traffic scene here is the host of green and
There are lots of these in Delhi all painted the same. There's adifferent paint scheme in the provinces and they're much more colorful.
yellow auto rickshaws. They are a motorized 3-wheeled deathtrap not unlike the tuk-tuks that we saw in Thailand and elsewhere. There’s room for the driver up front and two (or more, if they’re small or cozy) in the back. They also zip in and out of traffic here, but the traffic is not quite so hectic and certainly not so furious as in either Bangkok or Calcutta.
OK, so off to see the Taj Mahal on Tuesday. Our driver picked us up at 5 AM for the 4-hour trip to Agra. With a half hour stop for breakfast at a fly-infested roadside stand, we were at the Taj Mahal about 9:30.
Yep, it was hot. It was dusty. It was crowded. It was magnificent. Everyone and his camel are trying to fleece the tourists for a few rupees for souvenirs, guided tours, etc. etc. Did you ever see the movie “Slum Dog Millionaire”? The kid in the movie was scamming tourists with his guided tours of the Taj Mahal. It was pretty accurate of the mob scene there.
We wandered the grounds and climbed steps, snapped pictures and generally acted like tourists for two very hot
yep, we really were there
hours. By the time we were done, we had no interest in seeing any of the half dozen temples or the Red Fort. We told our guy to take us back to the hotel and we napped until supper time.
All in all - four hour drive down, two hours at the site and four hour drive back - we’d had enough touring.
Tomorrow we get up at 2:30 AM for our long flight home. We’re scheduled for 29 hours of travel time departing at 5 AM and arriving in Minneapolis at 11:30PM all on Wednesday. However, there is a ten and a half hour time zone change. We’re ready to go home!
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Well done--both the trip, and the blog!! See you in Africa. Love, L7
Delhi to Agra Taxi
Delhi to Agra Taxi
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