First Impressions of India - Days 1 to 3 1/2
New Delhi Travel Blog› entry 3 of 8 › view all entries
Well...the Monsoon has hit the west coast of India and today in Pushkar we had a little taster trailer. As a result I had to wade through the street in water up to my knees to get to the internet cafe to write this.
As a strange aside, on my left I had a young kid (maybe 8 years old) on my left, playing games on the internet and to my left is a respectable looking India dude having cyber-sex with a young Thai teen.
Day 1 - Delhi, India
Leaving was hard. There were lots of tears at the airport and as I walked through to airside my whole body was shaking. The flight was painless and quite uneventful. There was good on board entertainment and I was moved to the emergency exit seat which was a nice bonus. As I stepped off the plane, the warmth of the climit hit me and I smiled from my soul. I was finally doing this. It was happening. I was in India!
Before I left I had booked a hotel in Delhi, with air-con and arranged pick-up from the airport to ease myself into things. As I entered the arrivals hall, I looked at all the cards being held up by drivers. There wasn't one with my name on so I decided to wait for a while figuring they must be running late. During this time there was a lot of hassle from some very persistent taxi drivers, eventually I decided it would be a good idea to call the hotel. After six attempts of contact with no success, determined not to let this burst my bubble I headed for the pre-paid taxi booth and took a taxi to my hotel. The ride there was quite an experience. Cars in Delhi (well India for that mater), don't indicate, they drive as fast as they can & they certainly don't stop unless absolutely necessary.
When I arrived, they had no record of my booking, and no air-conditioned rooms available. I took the only room available, a small box-room with a fan, figuring that it would just be easy to accept the situation and get on with things.
My first day in Delhi was interesting. I ended up going around the city being followed by about six young Indian lads who had each separately decided to follow me. Delhi was a nightmare. The heat I could deal with, the smell I could deal with (despite the ironic fact that upon arriving in a city with a reputation of being one of the smelliest in the world, the cold I had for three months previous decided it would be a good time to leave my system), but the people in Delhi are unbelievable! Everyone it trying to sell you something or take you somewhere for a commotion. Simply telling these people that you are not interested is not enough, they insist and persist, with incredibly transparent sales tactics. I got sick and tired of people calling me 'friend' - a word I hold in very high regard. A friendship is something that takes time to form, and is certainly not a word you should use while addressing someone you are trying your hardest to rip off. Really there is no nice way to get them to leave you alone & as much as I hate lowering myself to take level, there are only two words the understand, the first beginning with the letter ‘F’ and the second being ‘off’.
In the evening I decided to go for a walk and find somewhere to have a drink, where I was likely to find some other westerners (as the ones in the hotel, didn't seem particularity accommodating). I looked up a place in my guidebook, but after search for about half an hour my efforts proved fruitless. I went back to the hotel. Surly someone there would be able to help me. So I asked the one of the guys in reception where I could get a beer in Delhi. His response was 'I can give you beer here, in your room'. I explain the purpose of me going out for a beer to which the response was 'This not possible'. 'So this is the only place in Delhi I can buy a beer?' I remarked sarcastically. 'Oh yes', was the response. 'I then muttered a few words under my breath, before storming up the stairs and it to my hotel room. I had certainly had enough of Delhi for one day!
Despite starting the day in high spirits, the first night I was totally deflated. I could hardly sleep and I was desperately home sick, wondering why I had every had this crazy idea in the first place. I eventually managed to get some sleep, consoling myself with some wise words Chris had left me with before I left. 'If it doesn't work out, you can come home at anytime'.
After my first day my instinctive reaction was to just hide in the hotel, but I built myself up and made I three point plan that would be easily achievable.
1 - I would find a restaurant & eat
2 - I would book a ticket, to get the hell out of Delhi
3 - I would go see one tourist attraction
Step one was achieve and I even had the pleasure of enjoying my brunch with a nice couple from Leeds. The next two steps fell into place, and after I had my ticker for Agra I went to see 'Safdarjang's Tomb' - 'one of the last examples of Mughal architecture before the collapse of the great empire' (thank you Lonely Planet).
That evening, despite getting a lot closer to my chosen eatery than the previous night I had once again failed to find it. So a Masala Dolsa from what appeared to be Delhi’s dodgiest restaurant, provided my sustenance, and lucky did provide any undesirable side effects.
Day 3 - Delhi/Agra
It was an early start, up at 4.30am to catch the 6.15am train to Agra. The train ride was quite an enjoyable experience. In fact the coach put English rail companies to shame. There was air-conditioning, a newspaper, a bottle of mineral, chai (Indian tea), water and a meal were all provided on what was only a two hour journey.
Arriving in Agra I took a rickshaw to a hotel in the Lonely Planet, which proved to be a very suitable choice. Less than two pounds (word rather than symbol, due to lake Indian key-board, apparently they favor the $ symbol - huh!), paid for a room with private bathroom, in a hotel set around a courtyard, shaded by trees and plants.
However, the hassle didn't stop there. Having told the rickshaw driver I was not interested in his services for the day, when I returned to the reception he was still standing there. Having hardly slept since arriving and been up at the crack of dawn, I then had the driver and three representatives from the hotel standing over my trying to convince me that choosing to use this guys services for the day would be the best decision I had made since leaving my mother's womb. In my sensitive state I crumbled. Still ,just over two quid for a private driver for the day was hardly going to break the bank. In fact in provided quite an interesting experience. Not one that I would wish to repeat, but an interesting one none the less....TBC