India or rather New Delhi for my birthday.
New Delhi Travel Blog› entry 1 of 3 › view all entries
India â€¢ New Delhi.
We flew out of Singapore on route to India on my 45th birthday so I sort of felt I got India for my birthday present, high up in the sky all excited and keyed up ready to explore this wondrous country I had only dreamed about I got to thinking about how I came to be here with Julie â€¦â€¦..
I am a Bookbinder by profession but was only in part time work and printing industry wages are very low, so my Husband of the time Bill, who was a grower of garlic and paddocks of peas and cauliflowers, asked me if I would try to sell some of his excess cauliflowers at the local flea market which had just started and was only about 6 stalls at that time.
Hardly a day later I discovered my Mum distraught with grief, not knowing how she could cope with Christmas alone after 50 happy years with my Dad. I just on an impulse dashed into town drew out some of my money and booked a trip to Norfolk Island for us both for Christmas and New Year. That is another story I might tell sometime, but it sure helped my Mother overcome her grief.
When I returned home from Norfolk I was met by a young girl Julie I had never met before, who wanted to tour India and Nepal and asked if I would like to go with her since my previous trip with Dorothy had fallen through. Oh dear, I had just spent masses of my money, but I doubled my efforts on the fruit and vegies and small plants stall, which had grown to gigantic proportions, managing easily to make the required amount of cash. Was a lot of work but well worth it, here I was landing in my dream country India â€¦â€¦.
On the flight I sat, not with Julie, but with a young Indian man returning from America who talked a great deal about his country and added a few words to my small vocabulary of Hindi and gave me an invitation to visit him at his Fathers jewellery store in the Delhi, which I hoped to be able to do. He made my flight very enjoyable. Arrived in Delhi airport very late, then had to queue for over an hour at Customs, had only just got through and was walking out to where Julie waited, when two Customs men grabbed me, snatched my Passport from my hands, demanded that I unpack my hand luggage right there in the middle of the floor, as it was â€˜too heavyâ€™ he said, and it was heavy, it had two large bottles of water from Singapore and a bottle of Brandy, a kilo of NZ cheese for Cedric along with lots of other things all of which got scattered around the floor beside me, in between me snatching back my Passport several times, I thought they were going to steal the small bird watching binoculars I had in the bag, they demanded to know where I got them and how much they cost; very difficult to say as I a New Zealander, bought them in Norfolk Island an Australia territory, using American currency! How fortunate I had taken the time and trouble to seek out some Indian people at my home town and learn a little Hindi, just enough to get me out of this problem, but I had to talk fast and was left all of a shake, very upset.
Were met by the Transglobal man who was to transport us to our Hotel, thank goodness he was there to meet us, we could never have coped with the hordes of humanity awaiting outside the door, waiting to fleece the unwary tourists, hundreds of rickshaw drivers, hawkers and beggars and others offering just about everything you could think of, our Transglobal man cut a swath through them with some choice words. Our Hotel; The Connaught Palace was very nice and the Doorman all dressed in costume looked most impressive but we were too worn out and shaken to appreciate it really. We found to our horror we had been allocated a double bed rather than two singles, not so bad for me as I am married and used to sharing a bed, but not so Julie, unmarried and used to her bed to herself. No amount of asking complaining or demanding would change the sleeping arrangements!
My first impressions of India (from my diary) Orange sky heavy with pollution, Blue crows, foreign smells, masses of people and strange calls from the Hindu Temple across the road!
February 22nd 1990
We awoke feeling refreshed but totally lacking confidence, just the start of culture shock and from my unsettling business at the Customs yesterday.
Â· No tap water not even for tooth brushing. No ice in drinks
Â· Seals must be intact on bottled water
Â· No milk as it is unpasteurised
Â· No Icecream or yoghurt
Â· Hot food must be freshly cooked, preferably in front of you.
Â· All fruit must be peeled, no salads made of fresh produce.
Â· Utensils and cup rims must be wiped before use
Â· Hands must be washed frequently
I am sure there were many more items on this list, but I can no longer remember them, but except for the yoghurt I lived by them for the whole tour.
We sat in the dining room like lost little birds completely unsure of what we could and couldnâ€™t eat too scared to try anything, finally the waiter came and made some suggestions! The omelettes cooked right in front of us were delicious! As was the coffee with boiling milk, after I had wiped the rim!
We quickly changed some American dollars into Rupees at the Hotel desk then went by taxi to the city centre, which turned out to be the Connaught Centre and only 500 yards down the road!
We stood on the footpath of the main road wanting to cross to the other side, this is when cultural shock really hit us, felt that we had throw ourselves in at the deep end and were completely out of our depth, we just simply couldnâ€™t bring our self to launch ourselves in to the 4 lanes of mixed traffic that was racing past, there were no pedestrian crossings marked, you just had to step out in between cars, trucks, rickshaws or bullock carts or bikes and motor bikes, and trust your luck that they would drive around you, soon we were deep into the traffic along with several men and a couple of beggars, dodging vehicles in front of us and behind us, we had watched others do this, eventually we did get across but we were shaky from the experience! I was all for going to visit the jewellers son that I met on the plane but Julie wasnâ€™t interested in that, so we definitely did not visit.
Everything is so foreign to us, the different languages spoken all around us, the smells from all the wee stalls and fumes from all the vehicles not to mention the people, and all their clothes are so colourful and different. This is why we came, we remind ourselves!
We wandered around getting our bearings a little before bargaining with a rickshaw driver to take us to the Astrometry Observery Buildings where they can calculate the time and date anywhere in the world? Maybe? It was interestingly different; more of interest to me was the dancing monkeys a strange man had trained to make him money; and he did. Caught another rickshaw back to our Hotel and rang up my friend Dorothy and her son Christopher who had now arrived at Cedricâ€™s house in one of the best suburbs in town Nizamuddin, where Cedric is the head master of a small private school. They quickly jumped into a taxi and came to our Hotel where we talked for ages, it was so good to see Dorothy, and she cheered me up greatly, as I was not getting along with Julie so well.
Now I havenâ€™t really got words to adequately describe what we saw there. Poverty, Humanity in MASS, bustling trading, people in rags and tatters, noise and we felt in danger under threat, all eyes were upon us- greedy eyes, where the driver had taken us was not a good place for innocent white people, so using my scanty knowledge of Hindi I ordered the driver to turn around and take us right back to town to a simple quieter market, where I surprised myself by buying an Indian outfit from the Punjab, in blue and gold with embroidery, for 250 rupees, it looks so good I decide I shall wear it tonight. Cedric and Dorothy had invited both Julie and I out to dinner with his family. Cedric sent a chauffeur driven Tenderfoot School Bus belonging to his School to pick us up and take us to his home to meet him and his sister Shova, who much admired and appreciated my special dress, then we left in the school bus, for an expensive exclusive restaurant; very Indian ofcause. They ordered for us an assortment of at least 10 fancy Indian foods and half a dozen breads which we HAD to try a little of each, there goes out carefully thought out list of things not to eat! Some of these foods were just lovely, Nan bread is so nice and I enjoyed the dhal and some of the vegetable dishes, there was not a lot of meat because most Hindus are vegetarian, however Cedric is not a Hindu he has some English ancestry and is an Anglican, nothing was too hot for me anyway, as I like curryâ€™s but these were spicier than I am used to. We learned a great deal about Indian cuisine during this meal that will be a help to us during the weeks we have in India, a very pleasant evening was had in their company. Julie, Dorothy, Christopher and I only hope we donâ€™t suffer tummy problems tomorrow!
Dorothy had warned us absolutely not to offer any payment for this meal, as it would seriously offend Cedric, so we accepted graciously his generosity. I have gifts, which I shall hand out when we all meet up again tomorrow.