Having left our parents in the airport, we made our way through to departures. Going through the motions, we found ourselves on the plane (my having acquired a pair of headphones) and were soon off and flying. Helena was sitting next to a very strange woman who apparently loved taking selfies: one of her on the plane, one of her on the plane with the window, one on the plane with the tv screen, another one on the plane but from high up…and so on. She seemed harmless enough and will probably be one of many characters we meet along the way.
Touchdown in Delhi – already you can smell the city. People talk about the smell of India and of the city and it’s definitely noticeable but I wouldn’t say it’s terrible. It has a kind of sweet spiciness to it, a warmth that tells you you’re somewhere new, somewhere different. We made it through customs and took a moment to collect ourselves in Costa Coffee (!) – we’d come a long way ha! I had a tea with frothy milk – it was a new experience, not one I’m keen to repeat too soon. And then the real adventure began…
‘So baby, you know where we’re going right?’ I casually asked Helena. ‘Erm, well….that was one thing I meant to look up and print of before we left but, you know, things have been so hectic.’ I smiled (honest) and thought, well – let’s go and see what’s out there. We spoke to a guy at a taxi desk and asked if he knew where the Sadar Thana road was (the road our hotel was on) and he looked disconcertingly blank. He showed us a map and the closest we could figure was Sadar Bazaar. So having acquired the map, we exited the airport and went down into the metro to get a train to New Delhi station – it was roughly in the right direction – and the tickets were easy to buy; all good so far.
Exiting the New Delhi metro, we were instantly greeted by a friendly guy offering us a taxi, or a tuk tuk, or a rickshaw or anything else we could possibly want. We had it in our heads that our hotel was walking distance and he agreed, pointed us roughly in the direction, and off we went. We were feeling rather happy with ourselves but then spent the next 25 minutes or so just trying to figure out how to get past the main railway! There seemed to be plenty of bridges but all of them said no entry. We went left, right and eventually into the station itself but the only way up and across was to buy a ticket – which we didn’t want to do. So we were stumped. But then I had a brainwave – follow the tuk tuks! There must be a way across – and so there was, and we were on our way.
Using my inherent skills of navigation, instinct and a large helping of general nonchalance, I directed us across a road bridge, over the railway (yay!) and off into Delhi. The roads are… well, wow. Crammed, chaotic, dangerous(?), loud, full of life and energy. There are trucks, buses, tuk tuks, carts, rickshaws, pedestrians, dogs, children and anything else you can imagine all walking, rushing, darting, dodging, driving, carrying, rolling, carting, swerving, braking, waiting and … beeping! Oh, the beeping! It’s amazing how quickly you get used to it! We were approached by quite a few ‘friendly and helpful’ locals who all wanted to show us the way to a hotel – maybe not our hotel – but a hotel nonetheless. We chatted to them as we walked, oozing an entirely unfounded confidence that ‘We know where we’re going’ and eventually each of them left us to go on our way. We did follow one guy who swore that the Sadar Thana road was to the left, not to the right as I’d first thought, and eventually I stopped and turned around when it became apparent that he too was leading us somewhere else entirely… We finally took a shot at going down a small side street which brought us out not only onto the Sadar Thana road, but also diagonally across from our hotel. ‘There,’ I pointed triumphantly – while feeling pure relief inside – and Hels smiled as we crossed the road and went inside.
We’re now a day in and feel like we’ve been here some time already! We have found bars, beers and more streetfood stalls than you could possibly imagine – although we have not as yet been brave enough to sample anything too adventurous from the street. On our way back to the hotel last night we realised that Delhi instantly takes on a totally different feel as soon as the sun goes down. The colours change, the smells intensify (for the better) and the beeping…well, the beeping goes on. And on. Throughout the night. Along with the barking.
This morning, we came to a cafe to have breakfast and noticed that it had an internet cafe attached to it next door. So Helena has booked train tickets to Agra on the 2nd Jan, and I’ve written this blog. A fair division of labour I’d say. I’m only sorry to say that, at the moment, we have no means to upload a photo to go with it, but hopefully the words have gone a small way to painting the picture that we’re enjoying right now.
We’re off to explore some more of Delhi…
Chris and Hels x x