Friday, 1 March 2013

Delhi......another world

Well we arrived safe and sound...the flat bed on the plane ended up being a little like a coffin so neither of us slept well....we arrived in India groggy and half asleep but as soon as we set foot outside the airport we quickly woke up.

The drive from the airport to the hotel was an experience. No one seems to follow any road markings and when we asked the driver why he told us 'they are just there as a guide'. Tuk tuks, motorbikes, rickshaws, lorries and wagons jostle for space on the narrow roads and constantly bump into each other. There's no such thing as a car without a scratch on it and everyone repeatedly sounds their horns....most of the lorries actually request cars to do so as 'please horn' is written on nearly every bumper. I asked the driver today whether licences exist and he told me 'on paper yes, but in practice no'.

We arrived at the hotel and lazed about for the afternoon before dragging ourselves to the hotel restaurant. Here we had our first taste of Indian food and it was AMAZING. Much nicer than any we have had at home. We both had a thali which is a mixture of various different dishes with bread and rice. I'm trying to go vegetarian while here in order to avoid dreaded 'Delhi Belly' and there is such an array of vegetarian food I can't imagine it will prove difficult.

The following morning we woke bright and early ready to begin our sightseeing. Our guide took us to various monuments including Humayun's tomb, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, Jama masjid (the largest mosque in India), India gate and the lotus temple. The sights of India are truly breathtaking. The people come across as being so proud of their country and everything is well maintained. Our guide gave us a good insight into the wealth of history surrounding each monument.

What can't both our attention more so than this though is the contrast that exists within Delhi. The memorial to Mahatma Gandhi is incredibly peaceful and surrounded by lush, green grounds. Compared to the chaos of Old Delhi where you cannot move without bumping into someone or something. Many Indian tourists from across the country were present paying homage to 'the father of modern India' as described by our guide.

Another part of the day which I must mention is our first rickshaw ride through the backstreets and bazaars of Chandi Chowk. This is a huge market area literally swarming with people, dogs, monkeys, motorbikes. The streets are about 3 feet wide but cars and other modes of transport force their way through the bottleneck conscious only of making their 50 rupees (65p) from their passengers. We saw one woman's leg get jammed between two rickshaws in the skirmish and her screams of pain made us ultra-cautious to keep all our appendages firmly inside the rickety contraption.

One thing we are both conscious of so far is the way that Indian people treat Western tourists. It seems that they believe us to be walking cash machines and do not accept that money is an issue to us. On the flip side however, we have been treat like royalty at each sight and we seem to be an attraction ourselves as various Indian tourists have posed for photos with us (they didn't ask-- just gathered around and smiled).

All in all, we are having an amazing experience so far.....await the next blog entry which will be on the holy city of Varanasi (don't want to bore anyone with too long a post)!!

Some photos so far are below- I'm on my iPad so can't intersperse them with writing unfortunately...

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