Am sitting in an internet cafe (3 seater) in Agra, sweaty, grimy, with the sound of Indian Music in my ears and the smell of incense burning.
What a wonderful couple of days.
We got into Delhi 2 days ago. No issues with the luggage, luckily.
On Delhi Taxis:
In Australia, we are used to orderly queues for airport taxis, we can trust that we will not pay more than the going price, the cars are usually functional and in most of them have satnavs. Alas, no such thing in Delhi!
We were approached by about 5 taxi touts but were under strict instructions to use the official prepaid taxis. We waited outside for one but it was a free for all. A fella pointed at us and took us to the front of the unofficial “queue”. This garnered angry shouting in Hindi and we were tempted to say “sorry mate” to the people we pushed in front of. We just kept our eyes down and got into the taxi. Of course, our saviour demanded his tip and we gladly gave it to him. We got into the taxi, unfortunately we did not have an exact address for our hotel and our driver did not know where it was. He took us to the tourist office, but not before going through the delhi airport traffic which was akin to mad max. His driving was questionable, as were the taxi’s brakes, and I just thank God that we were not going at any great speed. After 90 minutes of driving around (and us getting more and more anxious, he finally found the place. He also shook us down for the “evening fee”.
Our first full day in Delhi, we thought we would wander about, but found that we just got accosted by auto-rickshaw drivers and nothing was open anyway. So we met up with a few of our fellow travellers on our tour and went out in a group, finally acquiescing to the call of the rickshaw (probably a good thing). We were after basic things; toiletries, pharmaceuticals, socks but the drivers took us to handcraft markets and assured us that such things would be available (alas, they were not). After much repetition (including showing them our socks) they finally took us where we wanted. We had a lovely lunch together and met up with the rest of the tourgroup. Our tour guide is a Canadian Fellow who has lived in India for 11 years and speaks fluent Hindi.
We went for a walking tour around Delhi. We were acquainted with the Delhi metro, which was clean and very secure; we had to go through metal detectors. Going into the trains, it was like sardines and we got very up close and personal with the Delhi-ites. Everyone was really well behaved considering the crowding. We took in a Mosque (us ladies had to wear a long smock which was provided) and a Sikh Temple. We were given saffron coloured scarves to cover our heads and we had to remove our shoes, but we were treated to a beautiful visual spectacle and chanting. On our way out we were offered some sweet doughy stuff, which I took gratefully. Another Sikh lady, seeing I was given only a little, offered me a little of hers. The Sikhs are great hosts.
We went to a spice market and coughed and sneezed violently, we were treated to the sight of a Hindu temple shaped like the monkey god, and climbed to the roof of a building so we could look at the heaving mass of humanity below and reflect on how millions of people of 3 religions all co-exist so harmoniously.
Today, off on a very clean (reeking of disinfectant!) train to Agra. We have seen the Red Fort and the Taj Mahal. Words don’t do them justice, I will insert photos later.
The heat has been oppressive and we have needed to drink constantly, but we have had a wonderful time.
‘Til next time! 🙂