Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Old Delhi, Cycle-Rickshaw's and Rooftop Monkey's!

Wednesday 31st October:

I awoke after a nice long lay-in, 11.30 to be exact. Had my breakfast, which was toast with a garlicky butter and an omelette, which was weird but actually quite nice – served as my lunch too! Then I went to the tourist office to see about getting my train tickets, but the official Indian train ticket website wasn’t working, so I said I’d come back tomorrow. They tried to sell me a driver around Delhi for 800 rupees (around £9), and said I wouldn’t last 5mins without one, but even though you get to see all the sights, I wanted to see the real Delhi, and I didn’t care if I got hassled by touts. 

Consequently though, for all their warnings, I didn’t get hassled once, all day! So I took the short walk to the nearest metro station, which involved navigating myself around the roads on the roundabout, and crossing about 5 of them – I now realise why they walk on the roads, because the pavements are either non-existent, or so potholed that risking your life on the edge of the road probably gave you a better chance of survival!

Once I got to the Metro I must have looked a little lost because a really lovely guy named Suraj, who was studying to get into the army or police, took me under his wing and helped me buy a token (12 rupees for a single journey - around 7p).  You had to go through a security and bag check like at the airports before going through.  The metro is surprisingly hassle-free, busy but so much newer and bigger than London. It was also air-conditioned! Suraj told me which stop to take and I got off at Chandni Chowk – Old Delhi.

Well, old Delhi is every person’s nightmare but it was my joy, because it was the real India and I managed to survive a whole day in it! I have never seen more commotion, dirt, traffic or people in one street! I can’t count how many puddles I had to avoid which were probably urine, how many times I nearly died crossing the roads, how many little shops can be crowded into one tiny street, or how little you had to pay to get anywhere! I made a beeline down the main street towards the Red Fort, took some pictures but didn’t go inside as apparently there’s not much to see. And then took a long walk in the wrong direction, but it was actually quite nice as it must have been the quietest road in old Delhi! So I took a cycle-rickshaw back to the Red Fort and then got on another cycle rickshaw around Old Delhi – an hour for 150 rupees (£1.70ish).

My cyclist was lovely and took me to Jama Masjid which again I didn’t go in, then he just took me through the many many streets and bazaars that is Chandni Chowk Market and Old Delhi. These streets are like alleyways and they still manage to get shops, plus people, motorcycles, tuktuks and cycle rickshaws down them – it’s a miracle but the rickshaw drivers are experts at weaving! They aren’t the most comfortable mode of transport, but they are the only way to really see old delhi, without having to battle the crowds.
Along the way I saw a cheeky monkey hanging from one of the countless wires above a stall – trying to steal a banana! But the vendor was having none of his monkeying around, he never gave up though, down came a hand, the vendor smacked it away – it continued like this for the few seconds I was there.

My cycle-rickshaw driver also took me to Old Delhi’s oldest and largest spice and dry food market – oh my god was it big! It was just one big area of little streets dedicated to spices and nuts and rice etc. He took me up onto the balconies of one area, which in turn led to the rooftop. You could see practically all of old Delhi from this rooftop and it was a spectacular view of the streets below. Also, up there on the rooftops, stray monkey’s just roam around, jumping from roof to roof! Probably rabies-ridden, but I was lucky to see some of these beautiful creatures, one came right up to me but I was scared to move in case it attacked me so I just watched until it went to chill with some mates.

Then I was dropped at the metro – Jesus f-ing Christ did I know it was rush hour!! The ques for tokens were hideously long, but I managed to fight for a space and a token eventually – I wanted real Delhi, I got real Delhi! Lol

I wasn’t sure where my hotel was in relation to a metro station but I knew it was near New Delhi Railway Station, so I got the metro there (the station was quite daunting at dusk) people, touts and menacing sounding stray dogs everywhere, but managed to hail a tuk tuk to get me back for 100 rupees – probably ripped off but it was like £1.20 so what did I care?! Lol

Then it was time to shower (after one day in Delhi, you need about 5 showers to wash off the dirt, so I’ve just resorted to showering in the evenings), and have dinner, this time I got a non-veg Thali, which was rice, chicken curry, two chapattis, a lentil Dal and yoghurt dip, which was scrummy. It was then time to chillax until bedtime.

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