Fun Day in Delhi
New Delhi Travel Blog› entry 18 of 41 › view all entries
What a fun day in Delhi! I got to see a completely different side of Delhi today that I had not expected, thanks to my wonderful driver.
First of all, I need to say that today I saw a "richer" side of Delhi. It's obvious now that the divide between rich and poor is drastic. On Tuesday and Wednesday I had seen and experienced Delhi more as a local probably does - riding the tuk-tuks, walking the city streets (or slums), seeing the dogs on the streets and cows on the road and children playing in the trash. Though I saw some of that on Friday, I also saw on Friday museums, the surroundings to government buildings, and other tourist attractions which look a million times cleaner and wealthier than what your average Delhi local probably sees on a daily basis.
The difference is astonishing.
The day started out with breakfast at the hotel (I know I keep eating at the hotel, but I'm scared to risk eating elsewhere).
I had arranged for a driver to pick me up at 9:30 in the morning. I waited in my room for the receptionist to call me. I checked on them twice by phone since they were late in calling me. Finally at 10:40 am I went to to the receptionist to check on the driver. It was obvious they had forgotten. So we were off to a shaky start.
The receptionist called a driver into the lobby and he arrived. It was my buddy! The young boy who had picked me up at the airport (except he didn't look so thin to me today, I think because I got used to seeing all the other frail looking Indians around me).
So I hopped into the back seat of the car. He drove past the first monument Lal Quila - the Red Fort - and he pointed to it and kept driving. He understands some English and can speak a little too, so I told him I wanted him to stop and let me go in and visit and take pictures.
After chatting with him (I noticed myself dumbing down my English to make him understand me), I learned Ramprasad (that's his name) has 5 brothers, 1 sister and they all live with their mom and father. He is the oldest of the children and he and another brother work to help his father support the family. His father is a house repairman, and his other brother works in marketing. I learned he makes 4,000 Rupees a month to be on call for the hotel 24/7. He makes only 88 dollars a month. He asked me what I thought he would make if he worked as a driver in the US.
We then went on to visit Jama Masjid temple. We couldn't go all the way inside because only men were allowed in at this time for Muslim prayers (I learned they have congregation prayers for Muslims here every Friday at noon for about 2 hours). So we decided to walk the surrounding streets. I asked Ramprasad if he was hungry. He said no. I still bought us each a soda and a bag of chips.
From there we continued on to India Gate. There we took a ton of pictures and walked around the gardens/park. He and I took turns taking pictures of each other. By then I was taking pictures of him with my camera as his cell phone pictures' quality was not that great.
We also visited the National Museum and the Parliament grounds - he showed me the Presidential Palace. We visted Humayun's tomb, and Qutab Minar. He accompanied me inside each monument (instead of just driving and waiting out in the car) and got just as excited about the sights as I did. He drove me by the City Select Mall too. He showed me lots of nicer and residential areas of Delhi. He showed me a different side of Delhi that I had not yet seen.
Everytime I wanted to take a picture of other people, I asked Ramprasad if he thought it was ok. I didn't want to be rude and take pictures of people without their consent. Each time I asked, he grabbed my camera and helped me by taking the pictures for me. I felt like a local by hanging out with someone so young and free-spirited.
At around 6 pm, I asked him if he was hungry. We had not had lunch. He told me as a driver, his duty is to make sure I'm fine. He told me it is common for him to skip meals because he's on duty all the time. He said with his job there is no set schedule for meals. I know Larry would have been cranky had he skipped lunch. I offered to buy him a meal. He refused. On our way back to the the hotel, I asked him to stop at a pastry shop that I had seen near the hotel. He stopped and waited for me in the car, because we couldn't find parking. I went inside and got me a chocolate cake and some chocolate candies. I also bought him a piece of chocolate cake and candies to take with him.
We got to the hotel and I tipped him and gave him his goodies.
What a wonderful day in Delhi! I am extremely happy I got to see all I did today. I am leaving Delhi with a better impression now. I saw a lot of prettier parts of Delhi today, though I still think many of the people live in unacceptable conditions. I am thankful for my driver today as he contributed to making sure I had a great day in Delhi.
Tomorrow, I am supposed to meet my friend Karan's sister, Priya. Then at 4:30 pm I leave to the airport to take a flight to Tokyo. I am so excited as I will meet my husband on Valentine's Day in Japan. I can't wait!