Posted: January 17, 2011 in 10.India

There is so much to tell you, so much to write down that I just want to get it all out at once and as  typing skills can only be describe were once describe as ‘slightly below adequate’ I’m frustrated all ready. How best to tell you about a phone book worth of distastes and stories?….. no I’m actually asking!?! But before I get going I have to say that this is only our experience in India, I’m sure lots of people have different, dare I say better memories than us so in no way are we saying that India sucks and you shouldn’t go, it’s just that we were warned before we went:

‘Don’t go to India’, said one of our mates we met on our travels though the Middle East.

‘Why?’, said us.

‘Its proper mental’ was his response.

Actually, there were a few more swear words in there but as my mother reads this I’ve edited it somewhat. However, the crazy despair in his eyes that told me that he truly meant it… but it couldn’t be that bad, could it…? We’ve driven though Iran in a car that looks like it’s an advance party for the entire British army, so how bad could India really be? However, in the future if a crazy Aussie who’s seen action in Afghanistan tells you that somewhere is f*&^ *%$ (*&@£ ^%$^* *&^%$)_*^ mad, then believe him.

The first leg of our trip started quite well: we dropped the car off at… and caught our flight, landing on time in Delhi. We were met at the airport by our hotel, another plus and whisked off into the heart of old Delhi. From then on things started to go badly wrong, and if I tell you the highlight of our trip was seeing the man at the airport from the hotel then perhaps you can get a sense on just how badly….

Day one.

We were deposited at our hotel, which looked nothing like it did in the pictures on trip advisor, and unknown to us it was situated in one of the poorest areas of the city. The level of poverty was shocking. It was dark when we arrived but even without the sun’s helpful rays we could see the appalling conditions some people have to live in. Eye opening doesn’t really describe it. Our room itself was only half finished, there was a lift shaft running next door the room, which was unbelievable noisy, shouting from the staff outside our room and clearly building work going on in the room above even though it was midnight. Welcome to India. After a little word in the manager’s ear the building work was stopped and the bellboy’s recipe for stopping the lift noise was to close our bathroom door and ask for a tip. Joker. It was too late to change hotels and to be fair it did seem fairly clean. So we went to bed mildly concerned with how we would cope with the next two weeks.

Day Two.

My brother and father arrived the next day but I will leave it to them to describe their journey in a later blog. As soon as we stepped out of the hotel we were bombarded by people trying to get us to part with our cash, from taxi drivers to ‘helpful’ locals trying to get us to use their mate’s tourist agency. One guy at the train station demanded to see our train tickets just so he could charge us to get them back again. Luckily we’d read all the guidebooks telling us about these scams and simply ignored them or called their bluff. We never felt unsafe but the constant barrage of noise from people and cars was draining. The plan was to spend one day in Delhi, which was enough, before catching the train to Agra. However, we found out that morning that our train to Agra was delayed by six hours and would only be departing at midnight, which meant we had another day in Delhi. So we went to visit the national museum, which cost an absolute bomb to get into and whilst we were admiring some paintings the lights went out due to a power cut and we were left in total darkness! no emergency lighting, no guides showing the way out, nothing! (In hindsight it would have been the ideal time to steal priceless works of art). After five minutes had gone by and realizing that no one was coming to rescue us my dad (ever the scout) remembered he had a small touch on his key ring and we found our way out. Asking for a refund we were pointed to a sign at the entrance, “No refunds, even if there is a power cut.” It seems this was not the first time this had happened. Welcome to India.

After spending an enjoyable afternoon wondering around some of the grand government buildings we walked back to the hotel, careful not to tread in the lakes of urine that cover vast areas of pavement, to get our luggage and wait for our train. We decided to use to subway to get some of the way back, big mistake. Rush hour on the northern line has nothing on the Delhi underground system. In fact, the carriages on the northern line in rush hour look empty compared to the crush we experienced on that afternoon. To get off the tube at our stop my secondary school rugby training was called upon! To cut a long story short, after all that we were still waiting for our train at 2am, 8 hours after it should have been there. We gave up, no one seemed to know anything about our train and the official story was that it was lost. LOST! How do you lose a train!?!  None of us wanted to go back to the hotel where we had spent the last couple of nights but after ringing around and an hour long fruitless trek with all of our luggage we had no choice. In fact by 3.30am our old hotel looked like the bloody Ritz.

So that’s the first couple of days, still lots more to come but I don’t want to get too carried away and let’s be honest, most people will be bored by now so I have to keep you all hanging on a bit…

  1. Hannah says:

    this sounds pretty much like my experience of Delhi… I did warn you! Plus, if you look on the bright side, none of you got salmonella poisoning!

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