New Delhi Travel Blog› entry 26 of 41 › view all entries
Huddled in a hushed compartment of eight as our locomotive billowed black smoke chugging north, I challenged, "Delhi kis taim pahunchegi?" The response came in English, "Yes, the train will arrive in Delhi on time…" Not that I was concerned about an important meeting or a connecting train, I just wanted to test my memory from our Hindi phrase book. Chris and I mingled then, in English, with several of the locals on board, bridging a gap wider than the world itself. The two-and- a-half-hour ride passed quickly.
Janpath was the street in New Delhi for low-budget accommodations and we chose the Windsor Mansion for forty Rupees. The Winsdor looked like the kind of place that you would see Humphry Bogart entering a grand reception parlor through tall double doors wearing his crisp white suit, white shoes, a tilted white fedora, and smoking a fine Cuban cigar.
The British-style, 1920-30's estate offered spacious rooms fitted with furniture from the 1940's and high ceilings supporting slow-turning fans. A rooftop patio provided quiet comfort for lounging, doing laundry, writing, or scanning an abundance of books, maps, and brochures. The family living at the Winsdor rendered a homey, relaxed atmosphere and fine aromatic meals, though we seldom ate there; discovering out-of-the-way, local eateries was always a high point of exploring India.
Visiting numerous travel offices, we learned that overland travel to Kashmir was impractical due to record snowfalls and avalanches, closing the already treacherous road. Air India was running extra flights to air-lift those who became stranded. At their office, we booked seats to Srinagar from Jammu; a twenty-five minute hop over the Himalayas.
We still had several days to spend before traveling north, so explored the city; several of the sprawling parks, the Planetarium, countless eateries, the main bazaar, the Red Fort, and the Ghandi Memorial. The Ghandi museum was impressive with a myriad of photographs, pithy phrases, and his meager possessions: round eye-glasses, walking stick, a wooden spoon, a thali pan, stone bowl, and the bloodstained clothes he wore when he was gunned down by a young Hindu in 1949. "He Ram…" were Ghandi's final words, "Oh God.."