The fog over the city during the descent into New Delhi was thick, obscuring any chance of an aerial view so what was outside remained a mystery. We were pretty lucky that our airport rendezvous worked out perfectly. Richard arrived only an hour before me, and was waiting at the gate with our driver Raoul. Raoul put us in contact with his ‘business partner’ who charges a fraction of the cost of a car for a day compared to what the hotel charges.
For the past two days Praveen has been driving us around the various sites in Delhi. We’ve covered a lot of ground and have seen India Gate, the Red Fort, Humayan’s Tomb, the Gandhi Memorial and the bazaars of Old Delhi. We mistakenly visited the bazaars in the afternoon, already a little exhausted from walking around all morning. Narrow winding laneways lined with ramshackle stores seem to go on forever, deeper and deeper into what must be one of the largest blocks in the city. Needless to say we got lost looking for somewhere decent to eat. We kept coming to what we thought must be the edges of the bazaar that instead turned out to be dead-ends, with mangy animals and men peeing on walls.
We haven’t yet been brave enough to test our stomachs on street food and have instead been experimenting with popular local restaurants. By the time we finally made it to lunch at around 3.30 I was absolutely starving and ordered a dosa and a thali (large plate of small bowls of curries, rice, yoghurt, bread and other sauces) for myself. When it arrived I was a little embarrassed about how much food I’d ordered – if we hadn’t already attracted the attention of those sitting around us, this pretty much sealed the deal. In front of me was enough food for about four people, all for the grand sum of 200 rupees ($4.40). Two ladies sitting at the table next to us didn’t try to hide the fact that they were staring at me as they feasted on a single dosa between them. I felt bad for wasting so much food, and vowed not to do it again.
Richard has attracted a fair bit of attention for being fair skinned and blonde. At India Gate he was asked to pose in a photo with some people and occasionally people will very un-subtly photograph or video as they walk by. We assume that these must be Indian tourists from outside Delhi as the majority of people are unfazed by international tourists.
The weather isn’t exactly what we were expecting. I’d checked the forecast just before leaving and had been expecting 20 degrees every day. Instead we’ve been faced with the coldest winter day so far – a top of 14 degrees and very foggy conditions. Luckily we’re both pretty well prepared for cold weather in terms of our clothes! It’s actually been a bit of a blessing in disguise – we haven’t had to worry about wearing insect repellent or being bitten by mosquitoes (it does feel a little strange taking malaria tablets) and because there’s no wind or breeze to speak of the conditions are pretty good for walking around. The locals don’t seem quite so happy and are rugged up with blankets, beanies and ear warmers. Homeless people are also keeping warm by huddling around fires outside on the street.
© Richard Munckton