Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
135Trip End Ongoing
People say you get a lot of hassle in Delhi, so I was ready for it. But on arrival there were just the odd few rickshaw wallahs about and a couple of taxi drivers. It was 5am though, with only the most dedicated, or desparate, braving the cool morning air. Luckily the bus had dropped us basically at the top of tourist hotel street, Paharganj, so we just had a short walk to find chai wallahs and hotels. I had a look at a few and they were all ripoffs or filthy crap holes, also they all had this stupid 24 hour checkout time whereby you have to checkout half an hour after the time you check in, ie; we would have checked in at 5.30am so would have to checkout a few days later at 6am or get charged a whole extra day!! Stuff that for a joke! So we sat outside and had few chais and an omlette. It was approaching 7am and we had discovered by this stage that we would need to get an early train on to Agra anyway so checked in to a bargain basement with satellite tv!! We had a rest and a bit of tv catchup then decided to get out and hit the town. By the time we came out, the street was alive and buzzing with activity. Tourists, touts, rickshaws, cows, shop owners everywhere. We walked through the old part of Delhi to see the huge Jama Mosque. Again slightly different from Iran and Pakistan. Interestingly women do not need to cover their heads here. They also wanted 150 rupees for the use of a camera, which they tried to sting us for but we were just walking through to get to the Red Fort. It was either 100 rupees or $USD2 to get in to the Fort. The current exchange rate makes paying in US dollars cheaper, so being budget conscious (some might say tight) we paid with dollars. The British Army had been stationed there for some time and had erected monsterously ugly barracks. The Indian Army had used them until 2003 and they now lay empty and decaying. It's a huge place and we took our time walking around. There are loads of different parts to the Fort that I could list and describe (with the help of some texts) that date back as far as the 17th century. But suffice to say, it would have been beautifully impressive during its royal lifetime. Apparently the famous Peacock Throne used to be housed here. There are a couple of barely interesting museums there too. We wanted to have a look inside the Jain temple but they appear to keep really irregular hours. Continuing our walking tour we went on to the Fatehpuri Mosque. David then wanted to walk over to Karol Bagh to check out the prices of buying or hiring an Enfield. How original. It was a long walk. I'm not too sold on the idea myself.
We had to buy our onward tickets to Agra so decided to get it over and done with. There is a special office sometimes where foreigners have to buy their train tickets. It's a bit of a stupid system for booking trains too. You need to fill out a form with the train number, blah blah blah, your mother's sister's aunt 's second cousin's dog's name and wait in line. if you don't have all the correct information they get huffy and usually send you away until you get it all. Which can be very difficult if you need to ask questions and can't find anyone who gives a shit. We eventually got to the front and got a really bad tempered guy. When he told us to go away we refused, so he had to help us! When it came to paying, even though we were paying in Indian rupees, he wanted to see the receipt from the bank, which we didn't have. Another huge argument later he sent me to another desk where a woman had to scribble on a piece of paper. When he got that he seemed mildly satisfied and finally issed us some tickets, although the only seats we could get were 2AC. He did say we would get breakfast. We took a walk over to Connaught Place thinking, I don't know what. It's pretty much rubbish, but there are loads of people selling knock-off copies of all your favourite novels so we beat the prices down and walked away with some very bad quality reading material. we walked over to Janpath markets where there are loads of stalls selling fab sparkly, colourful bags, purses, throws and lots of other shiny things to catch my eye. There was far too much to choose from though, so I came away empty handed. On to India Gate, a memorial arch built to honour Indian soldiers who died during WWI, the Northwest Frontier and Afghan campaigns. A young boy of about 16 came over and started talking to us, but I quickly bored of him when he proclaimed India to be the best country in the world. It's good to have national pride and all, but the little bugger hadn't even been out of India, let alone finished high school yet, so hardly qualified to justify that statement. Remember, he was speaking to a person who'd cracked the 50. We watched some new army recruits get yelled at for being crap at marching and then headed back for dinner.
Jama mosque was on the list for the morning so we bit the bullet and paid the 150 rupees for our camera. We could have winged it though and I ended using mine as well. We wanted to climb the tower too, but they wanted more money, we couldn't go up alone and you could only spend 5 minutes at the top, so we ditched that idea. We did a huge walk to find the Forest of Peace where Indira Ghandi and her sons had been cremated. We found the memorials and went off in search of the big one, Raj Ghat, Mahatma Ghandi's memorial. It has music playing and is quite big. We were told there were no shoes allowed in so we went to put them in our bag but that isn't allowed either, so your supposed to pay for some idiot to look after your shoes. David waited outside with the shoes and I went in but I saw a few guys in there with shoes on so I questioned the guy and he said, oh, they're just workers. So I asked what the difference was with their shoes and my shoes but of course he had no come back. David went in whilst I continued to argue with the shoe minder. I don't usually argue the point too much but some days you just have to. I told him Ghandi wouldn't have minded if I wore shoes or not. Apart from that unfortunate upset we'd HAD a fantastic huge walk around Delhi renaming streets as we went; Piss Street, Poo Place, Shit Corner, Wee Way, Stinking Pisshole Avenue, you get the idea. It really does stink. It would help if men used urinals instead of the street.
We had another hike over to the post office where we discovered how expensive it is to mail parcels home. India isn't as cheap as everyone makes out. After the shit-fight for postcard stamps and making sure our parcel was sewn and waxed properly we negotiated a rickshaw to get us over to Humayun's Tomb. It was built in the 16th century by Humayun's wife. He was apparently the 2nd Mughal emperor. The gardens are lovely and the building itself very impressive. Beautiful red sandstone with white marble inlay. There are multiple tombs within the building to look at too. Even Humayun's barber has a tomb there!! We walked for a while but it's quite far out so ended up getting a rickshaw back to Janpath markets so that I could look at the sparkly bags again. I couldn't decide so I left with nothing again. I'm thinking they're obviously not special enough otherwise one would have jumped out at me. India's a big place, so I'm sure I'll see others.
Agra's up tomorrow. Can't wait to see the Taj. I hope it's worth the $USD16 foreigner entry fee.
Delhi really is very smelly. They should give out mint sprigs when you arrive and all the hotels should supply them, like in Morocco when you visit the tanneries. But I really loved it. Interesting sites, good food, not too much hassle and I didn't get too many ass touches.