Off to visit the President of all India! Almost.
New Delhi Travel Blog› entry 2 of 3 › view all entries
We Visit the Indian Presidents Palace.
We slept like logs and awoke rather too uncomfortably close in our small size double bed, expecting to discover we had a classic case of ‘Delhi-belly’ after the bang-up Indian meal we over indulged in last night, however we both were feeling good- no tummy problems at all. Even my nervous shaky tummy has gone I feel my confidence rising again. So we ate another hearty breakfast of omelette and toast and prepared for another visit from Dorothy and Christopher our first-class type tourist friends that travel in chauffer driven school bus.
Wandered in to town made a grand tour of Delhi’s Banks with a notable lack of success, apparently it was half-day exchange or something! Finally we exchanged her money at our Hotel again! We still managed to do a little shopping!
I managed to stumble unexpectedly onto my young friend from the airplanes’ Jewellers store but sadly it was closed for half-day too.
Hit the road again in an extra-large rickshaw driven by a motorbike, that I haggled for, but unfortunately the driver couldn’t understand where we wanted to go (he didn’t speak Hindi) so soon threw us back out on to the street, where we were quickly surrounded by extra-large rickshaws all waiting eagerly to take us wherever and to remove from us Rupees in bulk, no such luck, after much haggling and arguments we finally convinced one to take us way out of the city to the nice residential area that Cedric lives and has his Nursery School.
I am bringing with me all the gifts I have brought from New Zealand for the family • hundreds of small notepads that I made at the printing works back home, for the children of his school, each fronted by a gold sticker with a stylised picture of a Kiwi and ‘New Zealand Made’ stamped around it, by courtesy of Koromiko Cheese Coop who ordered these printed at our printing works and the printer ran an extra sheet off just for me! (Don’t tell the boss) Paua shell necklaces and broach for Shova, and tie clip for Cedric, plus a wall hanging of great garishness, made of black velvet and hand painted in bright colours and gold many NZ birds and flowers, the big block of Koromiko Cheese as requested and several other wee things, Julie brought nothing so its just as well I did bring plenty.
Cedric then so excited he could hardly stand still with much head waggling and heel rocking announced that we would be visiting the Indian President this afternoon! Like WOW!
But first we are to indulge in yet another wonderful meal at a different exclusive restaurant meal. We all piled into the old school bus with chauffer and soon found ourselves being wined and dined on coca cola and very fancy Indian food. This time we thought what the heck and pigged out more or less on the balloon shaped bread. They fry a chapatti in deep fat until it blows up like a balloon and is crisp and yummy.
I was disappointed to hear the President had no elephants, I felt he should have, but Cedric said he no longer has elephants at his disposal! There goes my chance to ride one! Stil,l maybe later in the tour.
We visited from the outside, ofcause; even Cedric isn’t quite in that class, although in fact, he did try to take us in the private entrance! We were turned back by armed guards, so went to the more lowly public entrance, where we were checked out thoroughly by more armed guards who made us leave our bags and cameras outside before they allowed us to take a gentle stroll through the Presidents beautiful formal flower gardens.
Next the chauffer was ordered on to Indira Ghandi home. Yes we even got to see where she was shot down. Its now a shrine complete with armed guards and everything is all on display, (except the body) we weren’t actually the other ones there, it was a ‘tourist buses across the road’ kind of place so we parked the school bus right there next to them. After our guided tour we were escorted back to our hotel where both Julie and I did our washing and hung it out over the balcony like slum dwellers and set to putting all of this to paper, and thank goodness we did or I wouldn’t be able to write this nearly 20 years later and still have the same feel of wonder I had then ….. hopefully!
When we had written our diaries up we each read out what we had written, and so enjoyed the only truly happy moments we ever had as we laughed happily together about the funny things we had seen and written.
Its so strange driving round the streets, they are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes and all kinds of rickshaw and the odd bullock cart, all tooting wildly, they drive all over the road dodging in and out, jockeying for better positions and in the middle of all this noise and fumes and confusion there will be a beggar child crawling along with hand held out for rupees. Very pitiful, but although Julie and I left our compassion in NZ, we can’t but feel a bit bad not to help them. It is notable that Cedric doesn’t even see them. Beggars simply don’t exist to him. We asked about a large group of scruffily dressed types who we saw and heard beating sticks together and chanting as they walked, he said they were no good rubbish from the country come in to protest about something. He sure wasn’t about to listen to any protest from them and hadn’t even seen them til we drew his attention to them!
There seem to be acres of poor people in the slums living under blankets held up like tents, that are all just strung together by the corners, beneath them dwell the masses in dirt and derogation with little or no possessions, crawling with people, dogs, and lots of kids and no doubt flies too, we sure haven’t seen any flies, they must all be busy in the slum quarters.
I’ve seen lots of birds, blue crows and Vultures ofcause, but dozens of other pretty little birds too; the trees are alive with them. Amid all the poverty and hunger we see small bowls of birdseed on the street set out for the birds. Amazing India, I am learning to love it. So glad I came to this strange land.
That evening and most of the night we couldn’t keep away from the balcony windows as there was some kind of big festival on at the big Mosque across the street, the singing dancing music and wailing went on all night and we found interesting if rather noisy. We also watch the vultures; some sit and watch us other flap around in search! Waiting for a death!
We can’t help but feel we have been so lucky; just fallen on our feet really not many tourists such as us get such great upper-class treatment.
We also plot our plan of action tomorrow. Maybe Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi memorials we think.