Fun Day in Delhi

New Delhi Travel Blog

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Red Fort - Lal Quila

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.

A lady sitting at Red Fort

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).

Love the marble and decor here
He had a smile from ear to ear and looked so clueless. The manager at the front desk pulled out a map and I understood he was explaining to my driver what the task at hand was. Take me to 7 or 8 tourist attractions that he circled and numbered on the map for the driver, and wait for me to go visit each one then bring me back to the hotel. The manager told me, "The driver is yours all day. If you need him to take you anywhere else or if you need anything else, you let him know and he will make sure you are satisfied." I thought, "Perfect!"

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.

Marble inlay
He asked, "Oh... ok, I tour guide for you?" I told him, "You don't have to come in but I want to go in. You can wait out here if you'd like." He turned around, found parking and motioned for us to get out. You could tell he had never been a "tour guide". He was so young and clueless. He parked a few blocks away, so we had to cross major intersections. I feared for my life a bit, but for some reason, this driver was so cool about everything I felt fine with him. I was excited for the adventure. He grabbed my arm and helped me cross the first intersection. By the time we got to the second intersection I was grabbing his arm and pulling him along. We went inside. I paid 250 Rupees and he paid 10 Rupees. I took my camera out and started taking pictures. I looked over and noticed him pulling out his cell phone.
Me
 He asked me to take his picture too with his cell phone camera. It was like we were friends visiting a landmark together taking each other's pictures. I learned he had never been inside.

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.

At Jama Masjid
I tried to give him an idea, though I don't really know what a driver would make in the US. His brother makes only 3,000 Rupees a month and his father doesn't bring much more to the household. So all in all this family of 9 lives off of less than 300 US dollars a month. I don't even think a family of 9 would survive on that income 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.

Locals eating lunch
I was baby-wiping down my bottle of soda and he asked me why. I tried to explain I didn't want to put my mouth on the dirty bottle (we bought them at one of those street vendors). He must have thought I was weird. We walked back to the car and he told me to hop in the front seat. I did. This was the first time I felt comfortable enough with one of the drivers to do so. We drove around, pulled over where we found good picture shots and pointed at sights! It was like we had known each other for years!

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.

A goat tied to a car... every day scenery
I offered to have his pictures printed and to send them to the hotel later. He was such a nice guy. We talked a lot, actually, despite the language barrier difficulties. He told me he didn't have a girlfriend. I told him I was married and showed him pictures of Larry and me. I also showed him pictures of my dog, my nephew and other random shots I had on my camera. I could tell he was actually having fun with me. We talked about the living standards in India, his job, his boss, his family, his driving (he told me he thinks he drives slow... yeah right!), the honking on the streets and so much more. When he didn't understand something I was asking, he responded, "Sorry, I no understand." When I didn't understand something he was telling me, I also responded, "Sorry, I no understand.
School boys waving at a tourist (me)
" We'd just smile at each other then.

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.

Ramprasad - my tour guide at India Gate
We had a great day together.

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.

Me at India Gate
He couldn't believe I had bought him something. He kept refusing. I told him to stop being silly. We had the manager inside take a picture of the two of us together.

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!

hernandezvero says:
Yeah! He was so awesome! He just went with the flow and was a good tour guide after all!
Posted on: Feb 17, 2010
rajeevpareek says:
It seems you have enjoyed your day in Delhi !!!
Actually as a Indian I am more impressed with Ramprasad. Good work young lad
Posted on: Feb 15, 2010
rrsuby25rs says:
I'm up and getting ready for my flight to Tokyo to see you! My father should be here soon to pick me up to take me to the airport. I'm not too thrilled about a 13 hour plane ride but... Valentine's Day in Japan? Pretty cool.
Posted on: Feb 13, 2010
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Red Fort - Lal Quila
Red Fort - Lal Quila
A lady sitting at Red Fort
A lady sitting at Red Fort
Love the marble and decor here
Love the marble and decor here
Marble inlay
Marble inlay
Me
Me
At Jama Masjid
At Jama Masjid
Locals eating lunch
Locals eating lunch
A goat tied to a car... every day …
A goat tied to a car... every day…
School boys waving at a tourist (m…
School boys waving at a tourist (…
Ramprasad - my tour guide at India…
Ramprasad - my tour guide at Indi…
Me at India Gate
Me at India Gate
Locals at the nearby fountain
Locals at the nearby fountain
This little girl asked me for mone…
This little girl asked me for mon…
Someones home... and laundry dryi…
Someone's home... and laundry dry…
Near the Parliament grounds
Near the Parliament grounds
Presidential palace
Presidential palace
I thought this sign was interestin…
I thought this sign was interesti…
Peoples homes on the side of the …
People's homes on the side of the…
Humayuns Tomb
Humayun's Tomb
There are dogs laying around every…
There are dogs laying around ever…
At the hotel
At the hotel
Me with my tour guide - he was blu…
Me with my tour guide - he was bl…
New Delhi
photo by: peeyushmalhotra