Asia | India – Delhi and more…
Well this was my first day of travelling around the world, my first day of India, my first day of Delhi.
What can I say, not a spectacular day with sight seeing, but all the more spectacular on impressions.
After spending a few hours catching up with the very necessary sleep and jotting down my first impressions of India/Delhi on the net, I decided to just walk around and have a look, get a feel of where I had gotten myself into. Well, you need several pairs of eyes to take everything in!
Delhi is an intense attack on all your senses and absolutely overwhelming. Whereas this morning I was comparing it to Bangkok, once out in Main Bazaar (the main street in Paharganj, the area I am staying in) on foot, you know it’s nothing like Bangkok at all…
Or at least not after the city wakes up, the compairison only goes for the outside and at 6 am.
The crazy bicycle, autoriksjas and taxi drivers, the old buildings in a very bad state, the electricity wires going in all directions, but even then, it’s Bangkok quadrupled.
To try to give you an idea: just imagine a narrow street, pedestrian, concrete buildings that are not too wide, 3 or 4 storeys high, and several signs and boarding on every building… Add some bicycle riksjas, autoriksjas, bikes, as much people as can fit on the Spui on a sunny Queensday in Amsterdam, a deafening noise of hooting and shouting, a good dose of Delhi perfume, and small clothing and souvenir shops, restaurants and guest houses all over the place.
Got the picture?
Then make this street half as wide, double the noise, the people and the number of vehicles and you might get a slight idea of what it is like…
Off course you get stopped every 5 meters by somebody who wants to sell you souvenirs, tourist information, bus, train or air tickets – all of which I invariably already have or at least claim to have. Standard answers have come up as well: gentle smile, from Holland and I have to meet some friends will do nicely to the numerous questions ‘where are you from’ (yes, yes, it is that obvious I am foreign, even without flagging my Lonely Planet around!).
After walking around for a while, you get used to the 100 000 things and people that all cry for your attention at the same time and can actually start to really look around and see what you are looking at…. too much to desrcribe.
Once at the end of Main Bazaar, you get to the New Delhi Railway Station, and hey, I might as well turn my little walk into something usefull and go and get my train ticket.
Despite all my paranoia and ‘training’ on Main Bazaar, I got myself lured into getting help from a tout… I knew I should have read the book better to know where to buy my ticket…
I remembered the ticket office was supposed to be on the 1st floor, so when this very friendly and neat looking young man came up to me offering me to show where the ticket office was -‘just across the road on the first floor, you can see it from here’- I thought the guy was genuine and followed him up. Unfortunately, their computer system was down, and as the offices would be closed on sunday and monday as well because of a muslim holiday, they adviced me to go to Connaught Place, not too far away, only 10 rupees (0.24 euros) by autoriksja. As I wasn’t sure about the closing times and I wanted to leave on tuesday morning 6 am, I thought I’d better check it out.
Checking the bible in the riksja, got me suspicious and doubting and surprise, surprise, my train was fully booked and I could only take an executive class ticket at the nice price of almost 2000 rupees…doubts confirmed as I knew the A/C chair reservation to be around 400 rupees.
Back to square one therefore (meaning the Railway Station), where I got pestered by the same little guy again! Showing me an empty space on the first floor where the booking office susposedly used to be, but was now closed down.
Too tired of shaking him off and continue my search of the booking office (which I knew to be closed by now), I headed back to my hotel and decided to give it another try tomorrow.
Finished my day with my first real Indian meal, which was excellent: Dal Makhani, a kind of beans and lentils curry with rice.
Writing and eating, I saw the ultimate combination stopping in front of the restaurant: old man, a little overweight, white robes, black gilet, red turban, grey beard and moustache – getting of a scooter!