Day 2 (this is not a daily diary type blog I promise)
Delhi is biiiiiiiiiiig like ‘don’t-even-bother-walking-coz-you-ain’t-gonna-make-it’ type big.
We, being novices, have no idea about this and begin with walking around New Delhi… ha, fools. The craft market, India Gate, the Taj Mahal Hotel (don’t bother: nice to look at but 600 Rs for an iced tea?? What was I thinking?) Lodhi Gardens (charming), National Museum (exhibit on Indian soldiers in the Great War was pretty intense). Then we walk up the Rashtrapati Bhavan towards the Viceroys house, which is just about hazily visible through the smog… it’s all very impressive in its planning and majesty, but it’s part of a bygone era… all these grand parade ground where no one parades…
India Gate and this red walrus looking guy who faces our hotel…
Totally knackered after all that walking … and the people of Delhi think we are lunatics for not hopping in one of the 500,000 rickshaws zooming about!
Old Delhi is a siege. A battle between people getting to where they want to go without buying anything, and everyone else, who is trying to sell you something.. we lost the battle. Totally.
The red fort is… well red. And enormous. And lavish… even the barracks the bloody English soldiers built are fittingly swanky…
Outside the fort we are almost swallowed whole by the attempt to get across the road without getting a) hit by traffic or b) picked up by touts
We throw caution to the wind and stop for street food: Dahl and puffy parathas… so good. There we find ourselves placed firmly under the wing of a silver tongued, one legged guide called Abdul, who leads us through the labyrinthine streets of the bazaars (stopping at the best local chai man for a restorative cuppa… swiftly becoming chai-dependant) to the Jamil Masjid – the largest mosque in Delhi (if not India) and on to the tea emporium, the Jain shawl and jewellery emporium, the oldest mosque down a rickety alley and the best paratha stand around for snacks. As I part with my cash for a shawl that I don’t really need, I know that we have been led by the nose/wallet by the skilful Abdul, but he is so charming and knowledgeable about the streets that I find myself not minding at all… a true Delhi entrepreneur.
Tasha being all famous and stuff…
I won’t do a blow by blow account of everything – it would take forever to type it and forever to read it, and besides, we are about to meet our group and head out around Rajasthan, but here are the highlights of the rest of Delhi:
– sunset dinner on the roof terrace at Mia Bella in the Hauz Kahs Village
– pretending like you’re a d-list celebrity when people ask for a selfie with you (happened all the time, especially to Tasha)
– A cona coffee at the United Coffee House
– getting involved in the prep of free meals for all at the Sikh temple in old Delhi, then eating there
– sneaking illicit gin and tonics onto the sleeper train to Jodhpur like we’re still in boarding school, then pretending to be Marilyn Monroe and Jack Curtis in Some Like It Hot, swigging out of flasks and giggling…
Treating ourselves at the United Coffee House… yummmmmmmm