A Travellerspoint blog

From your correspondent at Red Fort, Delhi

A tale of dusty streets and male closeness

sunny 33 °C
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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.

Posted by Pharkie 19:00 Archived in India Tagged city delhi red_fort Comments (0)

4 hours, in Delhi, 4 scams in Delhi

Pleasantly warm, no bites, no illness, safe.

overcast 33 °C
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"The roads are closed, Commonwealth Games you know?" Really?
"That road is really long, which bit do you want? The number and street name didn't seem to suffice.
The train station? "Yes but which bit?" How about the entrance? Maybe the road we just said?
"You've not been here before? Ah well I'll take you to the tourist office for some free advice"

When's the sunrise? The friendly man with excellent (American) English in the Tourist Office didn't know. But I popped my head around the corner to check our cab was still waiting (it was) and at some point in the time we'd been discussing the benefits of houseboats in Srinagar over a hot cup of Chai, dawn was well and truly with us.

We asked for Paharganj, the backpackers bit, 20 times - but it proved impossible to persuade our taxi to take us there despite using the pre-paid Police-organised taxi service as everyone said we must. We'd reserved at Ajay Guest House, about 1250INR (£17) for a double room with air-con. We've ended up at http://hotelshimlaheritage.com/. Not at all in Paharganj ('this is the road, the start of Paharganj'), but we negotiated 1000INR (£14) for a double room with air-con, en-suite on the fourth floor with a balcony. We have a TV! And a fridge! We're not planning to get used to it. And who knows what 'extra charges' are yet to come.

As the sunset on day 1 in Delhi, we plan to head out for some food and maybe to hear the Sufi's evensong.

Posted by Pharkie 17:24 Archived in India Tagged city delhi Comments (3)

India: lift-off

overcast 16 °C
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Posted by Pharkie 00:00 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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