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September 26th 2007
Published: October 22nd 2007
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Back in Delhi - No more escapes from India 😉 But actually it was kind of good that we popped out and back in again. India is a place that opens up to you more and more if you give it a chance to do so. This time, only one flight is waiting for us and that is our final flight back home to UK on 29th November. So now we had much more time to explore the treasures of Delhi. However, we also had what excited us the most - friends to tell us where to eat (our favourte passtime, if you hadn't already guessed from our blogs). At Priyanka's we have been given an extensive list of places to go and what to try - we love this kind of itinerary 😉 So first thing to try was the chaat - an Indian snack. We pigged out - as usual 😊 The word snack might suggest that it is something small, a nibble - so we nearly ordered the whole chaat menu. You have to try these things, don't you? 😉 Two of the chaat dishes we ordered were drowned in yogurt. They were fried dough balls with spices but also with a hint of sweetness. Interesting taste but not quite up our street. Another dish came with little balls in a bag (no jokes here please), sauces and potatoes - here you had to press your finger gently into the thin balls and fill them with the sauces and potatoes. Fun - but again, not quite the winner. We had to carry on and divert if we didn't want to go hungry that night. So we opted for the sure bet - paneer tikka - THE BOMB Josie says - and a Thali - this one should never leave you hungry as it is a set of rice, chapatis, sauces, dhal and veggies. Very full indeed we left for home. Priyanka looked very surprised about the amount we have consumed but we were happy.

Next day Priyanka was leaving for a long weekend on Anup's office do. We had the luck to be invited to stay in her apartment and if we wanted we could use her driver. What a luxury! Well, this is when we need to start explaining how a day of a Delhi-walla looks like. They seem to go to work pretty late (late for our European standards), 10:00. That leaves them though with the freedom to have long evenings each day. We guess during the day it is often too hot anyway, so you might as well have the evening. At 9:30 the door bells rings for the first time, the driver arrives and you hand him over a bucket and the car keys so that he can wash the car. Then you are being driven to work, yes, in your own car. Shortly after you leave, your maid arrives. Not only does she clean your place and hand washes your clothes but also she cooks anything you like. So that when you come home from work all is done and you can sit down and enjoy a home cooked meal. Nice! Also, in the morning you will find the veggie man pushing a big cart of veggies just in front of your door. You pop out and get whatever you fancy. Then the door bell rings again, around 11:00. The bin man would like to empty your bins. Fair enough! You pass him the bins and he does his job. Ok, what is next? Well, if you are lucky the gardener will come to visit too. He will potter around in your plants and leave after about 15 minutes. Ah, if you are really really lucky there will be also a man giving a hepatitis B shot - at the door? We were not sure, our Hindi didn't reach that far. So we kindly declined which though seemed to have confused the good man. You can now imagine our looks every time the door bell rang. Who is it now? And are we actually supposed to let this person in? What is he going to do to the house now? Do we need to pay him? If so, how much?! Lol, pure comedy 😊 At the end of the day, when you have been driven home, you might find that you are missing something in your fridge. No problem, you pick up the phone and dial the little shop around the corner, tell them what you need and the delivery boy will be at your doormat in no time. Who needs online shopping?! Now don't assume that you have to be seriously well off to afford all these helping hands. India is a very labour intensive place and with that population number,
Andy and his new friendAndy and his new friendAndy and his new friend

ratty and rattier
labour is cheap. The helping hands are welcomed in each house hold and also they ensure many people a job (according to the 2005 Lonely Planet the literacy rate for women was 53.7% and for men 75.3%) and I am sure many of us could get used to it all in no time.

So, even though it was a bit unusual for us to have all these people around, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to enjoy the Delhi-walla life for one weekend. By pointing on vegetables, we told the maid what we would like for dinner and then we left with the driver for a tour of the city. First we went to the famous Red Fort, which was the palace for Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan completed in 1648. The walls are magnificent and you can imagine how beautiful it all must have looked at that time. However, inside the walls you can see that not all is in the best shape. For 100 rupees (of course there is a foreigner ticketing office and a local one - basically we pay 10 times the Indian's price, though it is still affordable, we have to admit and
The Pearl MosqueThe Pearl MosqueThe Pearl Mosque

at the Red Fort
relatively cheap in comparison to the other sights) it was a nice stroll. After that we stopped at Jama Masjid which is the largest Mosque in India. Don't forget to dress respectfully and to take off your shoes on entry. If you are worried to not find them where you left them, carry them with you. However you do it, don't hesitate to walk up the great stairs and through the gate. The view from there is breathtaking. You will end up on a big square - now you will notice that the stones are really really hot 😊 - and a beautiful mosque will present itself to you. Even though it is free to enter the gate, the Indians are good businessman and will charge you for your camera 200 rupees. Don't try to tell them that you have one but you won't use it. You will have to leave it outside and yes, they do look into your bags. So just go with someone and share the pictures and you pay 100 rupees each. We think it was worth it. Off to India Gate, not that there was much to see. We just admired the layout of the
Beautiful door to the mosqueBeautiful door to the mosqueBeautiful door to the mosque

Unfortunatelly closed to tourists
street that were meeting like a star at this place and full of greens it gives you the opportunity to encounter many local people having a picnic or just a stroll with their kids.

That was enough for the day and we decided to lunch at our second recommedation - Swagath - OH MY GOD - my mouth is still watering even when I just think of that place. We both can easily say that they serve the best lamb ribs we have ever had (lamb here is nearly always goat by the way). And all in all everything we ordered was delicious. We did some food shopping for Sunday as all the helping hands have a day off that day and headed very satisfied back to Priyanka's apartment. What a day! All days should be like that we thought! Sunday was our "working day" - the day we took to sit down and update the blog and plan our journey ahead a bit.

Monday we were off again, this time to Humayun's tomb. Now, this place looked better in shape than the Red Fort, you could expect that I guess for 250 rupees entry. This place if
Stepps to the mosqueStepps to the mosqueStepps to the mosque

You just know there will be something amazing at the end of those steps
fabulous and if you think it looks familiar even though it is your first time in India you are not mistaken - it has been build as a sort of "pilot" for the Taj Mahal. We took our time walking around all walls and buildings, enjoying the well looked after gardens and taking pictures. We thought this place is great not to just rush through and take the "standard" photos, but to lose yourself in the great architecture and to come home with your very own take on it. So we did, we had a laugh trying out different perspectives and using the magnificent backgrounds to our advantage. Soon lunch came and so we headed back to Swagath - yes, there was still sooo much on the menu left to try 😊 And again we had a great meal with a finger licking fish tikka. Ahhhhhh! The lunch of kings. After that we have been driven home as Andy had organised a meeting with his former boss. Yeah, yeah.... the real life is catching up with us again. That evening Priyanka and Anup came back from their weekend trip and we were looking forward to our last day together. It started very relaxed with Priyanka's maid cooking us some great omelets - now that was strange. Nearly like a restaurant in your own home, you sit down and order.

Late lunch was arranged with Nandita, who we met before in London and on Akshat's wedding and off we were indulging again. We left it to Anup and Priyanka to order which guaranteed us a great meal. We have to say that we have been very lucky in spotting those foodie people 😊 The restaurant was set in great gardens and in general we thought that Delhi was actually quite green and relatively clean in comparison to all other places in India we have been. We know we have only touched onto Delhi's great collection of historical sights but that was enough for us - even though we would always come back for a meal at Swagath 😉 Next day we finally packed our backs and headed towards a bus station to catch one to Agra. After having successfully completed to do No. 1 - to play in an Indian movie - we were about to complete our to do No.2 - see the Taj Mahal. We were kind of dreading the bus station, not knowing what kind of mayhem might expect us there, but to our surprise the Sarai Kale Khan bus station was not worth a single worry. It was actually quite empty and nobody hassled us. Even more astonishing was the bus journey - yes we have chosen an AC bus, but for a 6 hour journey you can fork out 220 rupees we think (less than 3 pound) and the bus was actually half empty. So far we could not relate to all the scary stories from other travellers about India - but maybe that's because we have been through few places in the last 10 months 😉 We even didn't catch a Delhi belly - yet! Priyanka, BIG THANK YOU for your generosity and hospitality! It was an unforgettable experience!


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A little tomb buildingA little tomb building
A little tomb building

At Humayun's tomb
Humayun's tombHumayun's tomb
Humayun's tomb

and not the Taj Mahal :)
Sunday LunchSunday Lunch
Sunday Lunch

(left to right) Andy, Priyanka, Anup and Nandita


23rd October 2007

Namaste
What can I say... "I´m jealous"!?! I feel I´m repeating myself.... lol Pictures look great! XOXO
24th October 2007

Enjoyment
A little known fact is that Andrew's great uncle lived in Delhi for a number of years . I'm sure that he enoyed it as much as you two obviously did .

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