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Published: August 3rd 2018
Hello! It feels slightly odd writing a blog post again after three years out but India and Delhi are more than deserving of some ramblings.
Landing in Delhi at 2am was never going to be one of my finest ideas. Deciding to sleep in the airport was again possibly not one of my finest ideas, or so we all thought. However, after an hour clearing immigration, I made the decision to sleep in the baggage hall thinking that the arrivals lounge might be a little chaotic. I was heartened to see that I wasn't the only one settling in for a couple of hours nap - there were loads of people finding spare seats to snooze in! Definitely the most popular airport I've seen for overnight sleepers. Anyway, at 6:30am I headed out into India and instead of chaos, was treated with an almost silent arrivals lounge with Costa, WhSmiths and a few more shops and stalls. Turns out that none of the drivers/touts are actually allowed inside the airport. I then met the driver and off we went!
Now many years in Asia led me to believe that I'd seen it all when it comes to driving in
Walk to the train station
cities. Within 2 minutes of getting in the car, I realised I was mistaken - these drivers are skilled! The majority of cars had bumps, scratches or bits missing but these guys pulled off moves and squeezed into gaps I can only dream about doing on Mario Kart. Being a passenger is definitely not the for the faint hearted though, more than once I thought we were going to end up under the wheels of a bus! The other part was the child beggers at traffic lights on the outskirts of Delhi- wandering barefoot, grabbing onto cars is no life for a child.
I'd booked into a hotel (yes I know!!) In Old Delhi and this place is a maze! Full of tiny back streets, crazy amounts of electrical wires dangling, stray dogs every few metres and the odd cow or ox, Old Delhi is fascinating, if next to impossible to find your way out of! After a quick nap, I ventured out and tried to find my way to the train station. What should have been a 10 min walk took over an hour as missed turns and small alleys all conspired against me. The train station is
Walk to the train station
not somewhere I'm keen to go back to - up until now, my interactions with the locals had been pleasant and calm. At the station there were constant offers of lifts, tickets, advice and I soon grew tired of being constantly told it wasn't safe to go one way and how I should go another and then being followed to make sure I did as they suggested. I appreciate it was for my benefit (maybe?) but being followed around is not my idea of fun! Now buying tickets in India is a headache at times but they have an international tourism section at the station where you can get advice and book absolutely anything - as long as there are tickets! This is a brilliant idea even if I did have to jump over quite a few sleeping bodies on the concourse concrete to get there!
After this I walked to Connaught Place which I think is the main CBD area of the city. What I've learnt today is that Delhi is not a walkable city - an inch on the map is probably about 2km and with the thermometers showing 39 degrees, I was hot! Connaught place is
People building and moving things by hand
a giant park surrounded by buildings and some international shops - M&S and H&M mainly. I walked around for a while, found a cafe for juice (no ice of course) and then decided to head to the subway and to India Gate.
According to the sign in the station, India Gate was built in 1931 as a memorial to the brave soldiers. Even though I'd gone to the nearest subway station, it was still a 2km walk to the gate itself! It was fun though walking through gardens, seeing school rugby training in action, watching locals play in the streams and just soak up the atmosphere. The closer I got to the gate, the more people there were and it was absolutely heaving! I took a few photos, walked a long way to a subway stop and then spent an hour very lost in Old Delhi trying to find the hotel. I did find many good shops though that I'll be going back to! Dinner tonight was Masala Rossi which was delicious and I saw people riding an elephant which just about made my day.
Delhi is full of contradictions, a total shock to the system and I
feel like I've been here forever! Bring on tomorrow!
P.s. I'll upload photos tomorrow when I have WiFi 😊
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