One of the things I worried about the most before arriving in India, was getting sick and following our tour of Delhi’s most expensive market ( scam no 1 I’m going to call it as there is more to come…) we were starving and a bit nervous about where to eat for our first time in Delhi.
It was then that I spotted the India Tourist board office and thought they could recommend to us somewhere to eat and perhaps a tour of Delhi the following day. We wanted to eat the local food without any consequences… This is where we met Jahn & Naz. We chatted and then booked a driver with them for the following day to show us all the famous spots in Delhi and got a recommendation for dinner too. Dinner was great ( and no consequences followed!) later we joined Jahn & Naz in the bar next door and forgetting that I should expect the unexpected….we walked into a ‘Rock…karaoke bar!’…I was not expecting that! There…right in the centre of Delhi was a real mix of locals, ex pats and tourists all singing and shouting along to Rock ballads and Guitar heavy power rock songs! And no, we did not join in ha ha.
We chatted to our new friends and they showed us some magic tricks and tried to get us to guess the answer to various riddles ( see photo album – napkin pic) We shared a tuk tuk through the smoggy, foggy streets of Delhi after only one drink as we are so knackered and need to be awake for our tour of Delhi the following day…
Great. Then the jet lag kicked in…
After looking like we had been on the ale the night before due to lack of sleep, we were up and out at 9am for our tour.
Our driver was a nice man who hardly spoke a word of English but nods and head shaking go a long way for us to understand. Our first stop was a temple set amongst a market ( errr why didn’t the alarm bells start ringing at this point??? Another market…)and I have totally forgotten the name of it. But it is opposite the famous Red Fort, should you wish to visit following my story… Our driver pulled over and pointed towards a very busy, flooded, packed but colourful street with a temple at the end. He pointed and waved for us to go… I think it was the puzzled look on our faces that followed…as he quickly ushered to us to follow him instead…phew.
As soon as we stepped foot on the road, people swarmed around us…I remembered what everyone had told me about the beggars and kept walking…as sad as it is and yes it really does pull at your heart strings. After a few moments I turned and Lucie was surrounded, she loves kids…and then…she took…a photo! Yikes..”money, money, money” they all shouted tugging on her coat and clutching her hands.
As we approached the temple, goats bouncing everywhere getting stuck in the newly laid patch of cement ( v funny to watch) our driver asked the kids to move away. We wondered if this is what it would be like at every place we visit?
Ahhh the temple…a place of sanctuary…? Errr nope! 20 rupees for this 200 rupees for that etc…in the end, we took some slippers to wear (?) and the entrance tickets…but firmly said no to any gowns they were pretending we had to wear. ( then we spent the whole time inside worrying that our shoes would be gone when we came out? )
Our next stop ( with our shoes on…phew) was the Red Fort of Delhi. It is absolutely massive. As we approach we notice one que for ‘ Indian nationals’ and one que labelled ‘ Foreigners’ the price is hiked up 11 times for us foreigners.
Inside the fort is peaceful and the patches of green are the first we have seen for a while. We are asked by a lot of people to have a photo taken with us…which feels very strange but we oblige. I also notice there are chipmunks running around everywhere – very cute.
As we leave the Fort, we look for our driver who has been waiting patiently outside. We spot him just as the Police approach. They ask us if he is with us and then assume he has been inside…as the Red Fort is owned by the government, they have guides inside and no external guides are meant to do additional tours. They are raised voices and then the driver says ” wait here” and disappears. Ok….we are now standing there with four Police men and no driver…and we haven’t a clue if he is coming back…so…best thing to do…yes…take a picture! Lucie jumps behind one of the older officers and to our surprise, he smiles sweetly and then starts to chat…” where you from…”
Our driver returns…phew( he was asked for his driving license and he had left it in the car)
We visit all the other well known places of interest in Delhi including the Gandhi monument and Humayums tomb, all enjoyable and quite peaceful, except of course for the traffic…my nose still black… We save India Gate until the evening as we will be meeting our G Adventures group for the first time and all going along together…
On the way back I get some help purchasing a new micro sim card…memorable for Lucie as the guy signing me up looks like he should be in a Bollywood movie…it seems its not always the Indian people that stare…ah ha…
Oops! We arrive late to our first meeting with our group! This is a group we will spend the next 15 days with exploring North India and Nepal. Our tour leader is Dushyant and there are 12 of us along for the tour. Us two Brits, two girls from Holland, two girls from Italy, two girls from Norway and a couple from Norway in their 70′s( they are amazing – backpacks full of stamina) and a couple from Canada.
We all head out into Delhi and following India Gate we visit an amazing Sikh Temple. Here the community supply meals to the needy through donations and 1000′s of people visit everyday. We help in the kitchen and meet some wonderful people and witness the prayers, singing and giving thanks inside the temple. I get goose bumps and feel truly blessed for being allowed to enter such a place. I think to myself ” this is going to be a good trip”
‘Expect the unexpected’ that’s my new motto for India ( and the first thing Dushyant said to me) …and boy am I gonna prove it with my next installments here…