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An Englishman in New Delhi

and me too!!

sunny 30 °C
View Around We Go on LauHot10's travel map.

We touched down at Indira Ghandi International Airport at roughly 5:30am on Thursday and it was fairly painless to get through passport control, the man was a bit surly but he stamped our passports which pleased us both. There were a few nervous moments when we had been standing at the baggage claim for about 20 minutes with suitcases galore but no sign of our packs, they appeared though and calm was restored.

We weren't completely sure if we were getting the hotel taxi pick-up due to a bit of email correspondence confusion but there my name was on a piece of white A4 when we exited. It was a fairly straight forward journey into New Delhi, it does however quickly become obvious that there is a new road system which you need to get to grips with, i.e. there isn't one. Still we made it there in one piece and saw some wildlife along the way – mangey dogs, peacocks, monkeys and of course the obligatory cow standing in the middle of the street.

The first hostel we stayed in was The Smyle Inn, we were very grateful to reach our beds at 7am but were a little perplexed when the guy, after showing us to our room, then asked for our passports. We handed them over, too tired to argue and kind of presuming there would be a good reason, he also said he would bring them back in 30 minutes. This however did not happen, so our sleep was somewhat fitful and interrupted by the people of Delhi rising to loudly sell their wears.

Later after a bit of sleep we went down to reacquire our passports, which were just in a little cupboard waiting to be returned to us, once we had divulged a certain amount of info about ourselves; age, home address, etc. Then we embarked on to the streets and it was a slight shock to the system. We were staying in the Paharganj district of New Delhi, just off the Main Bazaar which is full of shops, all interwoven and shoved together. We of course immediately stood out like sore thumbs, especially me I suppose, with the very fair skin. For this reason people just don't leave you alone and you soon realise it is very difficult to know who to trust. It is easy to get past the people wanting to sell you things from their stalls but it gets a bit more complicated when people are trying to sell you something you actually want. Which for us was a train ticket out of Delhi. I think we both quickly realised that this wasn't going to be a place we could enjoy, mainly because of all the hassle you get. It is interesting to see how people live differently to you but it is difficult to enjoy when you can't even stand still for 2 minutes to soak up the atmosphere, without someone asking you where you're from and the following you, telling you to go here or there.

If you do go to New Delhi then the place I would tell you to avoid is Connaught Place, or atleast be wary of it. There really isn't much there, we ended up taking a 10 rupee tuk tuk there because someone told us it was a good place, the centre of New Delhi, but when you arrive it may be bit neater but it's still full of people try to con you. There is a little green park which to us looked like a sanctuary, we just wanted to sit down and regain our thoughts. It's the first time I've ever seen a metal detector at a park, which beeped when I walked through, apparently you aren't allowed in with a camera. So then you just become part of the circus, people trying to take you to tourist offices to buy tickets at hyped up prices. All of them fakely plastered with the words 'Government of India Tourist Office.' In the end tired and hungry we gave up and went back to the hostel, that tuk tuk cost us 40 rupees though, “different time of day” apparently.

We had vegetable fried rice and singapore noodles for dinner, which seemed a bit silly but you'd be surprised how few curry restaurants (where you could actually sit down) there are. Then it was back to the hostel for not a great nights sleep, we were a bit jetlagged and it was fairly noisy. Sods law that when we had both fallen into a deep sleep it was time to get up, we had organised to stay in another hostel, The Cozy Inn, just round the corner. We'd looked at the rooms, which were brighter and cleaner, also the whole passport thing had put us off The Smyle Inn a bit. We'd arranged to be at the new hostel at 11am, so threw everything in our packs and trudged over.

The task for today was to get our ticket out of Delhi and initally we thought we'd head for Varanasi which is south east and on the way to Kathmandu. We made it to New Delhi Railway Station, taking the long route and incorporating a trip on the metro, which I'd like to say was planned. What happened next really set the tone for the day and had we not figured things out could have been pretty downheartening. I had read there was a tourist office at the railway station on the first floor where you could buy tickets, and also that people would tell you it had been destroyed, had moved etc etc. When we got to the station we headed up to the first floor and didn't see it, we tried to cross the bridge and were met by a man asking for our tickets by the ever popular metal detectors. Of course we didn't have tickets yet, he then asked us where we were going and we said we wanted the tourist office, he showed us some desolate area and said the station was being renovated for the Commonwealth Games and that the office was now in Connaught Place Block N. He even showed it to us marked on the map, then plonked us in a tuk tuk and agreed 10 rupees. Looking back it is easy to see we were being conned but at the time you just want to believe someone I guess, and it was on the map.

So we ended up back at Connaught Place talking to some guy who'd lived in England, Muswell Hill to be exact and wanted to sell us a trip including; Jaipur, Agra, Varanasi and Kathmandu for £135. Now in England that would probably be a good deal for the mileage involved but neither Adam or I felt happy about handing over that much money and it just felt dodgy. We ended up leaving, saying we needed a cashpoint and went in search of some other tourist office that was just down the road. It seemed a little more official, but still the guy there kept changing his story, he told us the person we'd seen before was corrupt though, so at least our suspicions were confirmed. He then told us we could buy our tickets from someone just round the corner, again we were not sure what to believe but we went to check it out. This guy told us that he could not sell us individual tickets, no one could but the people at the railways station, and he also said there definitely was a tourist office at the train station. He was more straightforward and didn't give us too much spiel. We decided to head back to the station and took a 40 Rupee tuk tuk there, this time we ended up at the main entrance and there we saw a sign saying Tourist Office down to the right. It's amazing that even with those signs people are still trying to tell you to go a different way. In the end though we found our way up to the first floor and managed to book our ticket to Jaipur (apparently there is a black out in Kathmandu so there is no point heading there yet – whether that is true we just don't know), for 560 rupees each which is roughly £8.

There was an immense sense of satisfaction when we left, knowing that we hadn't been conned and we'd got our tickets. We also then realised that the train station was only about 5 mins walk from our hotel and we could have had all of it sorted in approximately 30 mins. You live and learn though. We are now both full of our first curry and are pretty sleepy. Tomorrow (21st March) we leave for Jaipur at 11:45am from Old Delhi railway station and arrive at 5:40pm, we're travelling 2A (Second Class with Air Con).

That's enough babbling for now, I'm sure my entries will get shorter!

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 23:29 Archived in India Tagged round_the_world

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Hello Adam and Laura. Just read your first blog, Deli sounds awful, hope things get better. Not what you want on your first day. Take care, aunty Janet x

by shuttlebus

hi you two. So you found the real India straightaway. Don't worry, in a few weeks this will be normal and everything else will be too quiet!!! Everyone in India is trying to make a living and as you said Laura, you stand out from the crowd so they home in on you. I hope the train journey went well and you enjoy Jaipur. xx diana ps surprisingly your first blog made me homesick for India.

by dianatay

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