We’ve been in Delhi for three days now, and so far so good. Actually my brain is so zapped from lack of sleep I hardly know what to type.
Tuesday was the longest day imaginable. We got into Indira Gandhi Airport at about 3am. After lingering over a cup of coffee, we went to book a cab and lucked out in finding another backpacker to share the cost with. Nick was a seasoned visitor to India and chatted to the driver in Hindi a bit, giving us some tips on autorickshaw prices and what to do in Delhi (his response: get some sleep, have a wander round, then move on as fast as you can…)
Once in Pahar Ganj we went our separate ways and realised we’d been dropped nowhere near our hotel. We walked to the train station and got our bearings, then found the Amax Inn and woke up the staff to give us a room. Did they have our booking? No. Did they have a room? Thank god, yes. Once inside we collapsed and napped under the whirring fan for a few hours.
Back out on the streets of Delhi, we started to make our way to Connaught Place, but were constantly waylayed by young men wanting to chat, tell us about the dangers of the area, and how we would be wise to take an autorickshaw to the nearby official government tourist offfice. Once there, the dudes behind the counter tried to give us the hard sell on the “Golden Triangle”. There’s no way you’ll get on your train to Gorakhpur – why not cancel these tickets and let me book you some new tickets to Agra, then Jaipur, then you can go to Varanasi and catch a train to Nepal? Thanks but no thanks mate.
Back out on the street we negotiated a very cheap ride to India Gate, where we took some time to sit on the grass and recover from the constant attempts to sell us something or take us somewhere. We tracked down the Andra Bhawan Canteen recommended by Andy and Lola and filled up on some tasty thali, then decided to put our walking boots to the test and walk back the 3km to our hotel. On the way a taxi driver stopped and jumped out of his car to talk to us. We tried to give him a polite brush off, but he took real umbrage and said he was just taking a break and wanted to chat. And it turns out he did! Chatting to Nirpal on a street corner turned out to be the highlight of our day, shaking off the view that everyone we spoke to was on the make.
Back at the hotel I discovered that the heat and dust and walking had caused my hands to swell up like an allergic reaction, but a cool shower and a lie down soon sorted them out.
More later on, it’s Ben’s turn to internets. With a bit of luck we’ll be on our train to Gorakhpur this evening, not sure when we’ll be online again.