A tale of dusty streets and male closeness
05.10.2010 - 06.10.2010 33 °C
It's 17.54 Wednesday and we're sat on the benches waiting for the 'sound and light show' at Red Fort, one of Delhi's star attractions: a 15th century Mughal Palace set in 24 acres. Slawek has just finished taking photographs of a local family, who didn't lose interest for at least 15 minutes. That said it made a change from people wanting photographs of us, the crazy foreigners with the crazy clothes. Slaw says we should charge them 5 rupees.
The day started with a friendly and well-intentioned tuktuk, "but business is slow", he says. Commonwealth Games was meant to bring him customers. It hasn't. He took us to a clothes shop in 'Connaught Place'. Spotting the 'Are you being Served?' layout and rampant over-staffing problem, we re-emerged quickly and walked into what turned out to be Paharganj. Remember Paharganj, regular readers? We've been trying to get there for two days.
Yesterday was lost to jet-lag. We just about managed to fall into a local restaurant, via another Tourist Information centre (free map!) where we paid 1400 rupees (£20 for both). Today we ate a good Veg Thali for 22 rupees each (30p).
Ah but there was a technological adventure. "Is it unlocked?" asked the man behind the crowded counter as a relentless series of people thrust forward 100 rupee notes in exchange for phone credit. "Erm. Yes?". He handed my passport to a local street urchin at which I may have looked visibly distressed. "He will photocopy for you" - oh right.
Ten minutes later we arrived at the conclusion my iPhone was not in fact unlocked, me ahead of him by around 9 minutes. I said "Well unlock it then", to be greeted by a sympathetic but derisory "It cannot be unlocked. Contract phone". Fifteen minutes in the wifi hotel room I returned, unlocked iPhone in hand. I can now call people - but who do I know in India? Alas for mobile internet, "call them in the morning" he says. Nothing he can do with a recently unlocked iPhone.
While I type, as the big circular blobby orange sun sets and vaguely threatening birds circle overhead, we've met Sandeep and Tenkoo (for short, I could not tell you what he said to start with) - local students and life-long Delhi residents. We are learning something to do with the Bagavadh Gita. Sandeep has just put his arm around Slawek. I'm not worried, we've seen lots of men holding hands today.
One more night in the hotel and tomorrow we're booked on a train to Haridwa for Rishikesh. Second-class, no air-conditioning. Good job we bought new outfits today.