Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Hard-core in Delhi

We knew Delhi would be a hit on our cultural senses and it hasn't dissappointed. Constant loud beeping horns, streets filled with dirt, rubbish, dust and worse, scammers on every corner asking you where you're from and where you're going, hawkers jostling for space trying to flog anything from sleeping bags to colourful scarves or incense sticks to numerous items of clothing. This is why we chose to come here, to see life from a different perspective.

We experienced our first scam attempt in the taxi from the airport to our hotel. The driver told us he was lost and conveniently stopped outside a travel agents and suggested we take our luggage in and ask for assistance. Having previously read some travel tips, we remained in the cab and demanded he take us to our hotel, which he eventually did.

Our hotel, Hotel Hari Piorko was in the Pahar Ganj area, very close to New Delhi station and right in the mix of a bazaar. It is an incredible concoction of tuk tuks, rickshaws, street sellers, street cafes, dirt, dogs, beggars and the very occasional westerner. There was no soft introduction to Delhi, we hit it head on and found it exhilarating. After getting our bearings somewhat, we enjoyed some street food of veggi curry. After being extremely careful not to lick my fingers or eat with my left hand, I comically licked my finger whilst thumbing through my cash!!! We then had an early night, cuddling up for warmth, as you pay extra for heating in the hotel. Hot water is free, but you have to dial 9 to request it!!!!

Outside our hotel

On our second day in Delhi we visited the Red Fort, built in the 17th century, the walled city served as the residence of the Mughal Emperors. Although magnificent from the outside, we were a bit disappointed with the ramshackle state that the ruins have been left in.

Red Fort
Bazaar we battled through

What followed next did have the WOW factor but for different reasons... we walked the streets between the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid Mosque! The distance was not that far, however there was the population of Wales in front of us. We had walked straight into the Sunday bazaar. I have never seen some many people in one place (mostly men and no westerners) and it was quite frightening. We battled though the hundreds of stalls, not looking for any purchases, merely trying to survive the crush, until we made it to the mosque. It's the largest in India which can hold up to 25,000 people. No photos though as they charge westerners to take cameras in, "tourist tax" I guess. A long walk home took us though some very poor areas, which although made us uncomfortable at times, was incredibly interesting and worth the effort. Some yummy fried street food for dinner consisting of a fried potato sandwich and a fried mashed potato ball with a spot of tomato chilli sauce. Yum.

Delhi has a wide spectrum of wealth, more than I've ever experienced. Seeing a woman and baby begging for food just feet away from a couple watching YouTube on their laptop on the street side says it all. We once walked into a small market next to a mosque. We felt very uncomfortable with beggars, filthy children and people with deformities and yet turned the corner to find a Nokia shop, KFC and McDonalds!!!

As you would expect, the male to female ratio in public is hugely weighed in favour of males. Sonja has never felt in danger but definately uncomfortable at times. Some however do enjoy knocking into females breasts 'by accident', which can become a bit of an amusing sport when dodging the swinging elbows! Seeing men urinating on the sides of the streets is common, as too, is seeing them spit a red substance on the floor on a regular basis. Spitting appears to be common practice here. The red spit comes from the pastime of chewing betel nuts. Like the difference in wealth, there is also a difference in cultures between old and young. Teenagers can be seen in jeans, converse and fashionable tops, somewhat less covered than their older generation.

Our favourite visit was Humayun's Tomb, of the Mughal Emperor Humayun. The tomb was commissioned by Humayun's wife Hamida Banu Begum in 1562 AD and resembles the Taj Mahal with it's huge dome and symmetrical walkways. The whole area had a feeling of peace and regal elegance. We managed to find another quiet spot at the Lodi Gardens, a landscaped park with crumbling tombs and a lake.

Our last day in Delhi has juxtaposed the calm at the Bahai Temple, an awe inspiring structure shaped like a lotus flower, and the Indira Gandhi Museum, with the craziness of our tuk tuk rides to each place. Jumping into a tuk tuk is literally putting your life in the drivers hands and the other million road users who are jostling for position. The drivers go through gaps that don't exist, hoot for no apparent reason and still try to haggle the price for taking you to near death and back. Fantastic though and saved our little legs!!!



Tomorrow sets a new challenge; Indian trains!! Our train to Agra heads off at midday where new adventures await........



  1. Wow, what an experience. Can you imagine Dad trying to push me in the wheelchair through the Sunday bazaar. The advantage of being in a wheelchair 'though would be that my boobs would be out of reach of the passing men!! Sounds like you are having a fantastic time and really experiencing the sights, sounds and contrasts of Indian life. Marlene and Geoff

  2. Good work, loving the Bahai temple but why no stories of dancing monkeys? Look harder; beyond the culture......


  3. Sounds like you are having an amazing time!! We had our first ppa of 2013 today - back in the cupboard as suite is now in use! We thought of you as we sat there tearing our hair out and only just managing to complete the English and Maths planning!!! Looking forward to reading more of your adventures!

  4. OMG sounds amazing, fantastic and wonderful and I wish I was with you.take care of each other xxx J