Monday, 9 January 2012

I'm waiting for the world to stop

I got definitely better today. I’ve managed to eat two toasts with jam and honey for breakfast and drink some ginger tea, but still I feel like I’ve eaten dal bhat with triple refills.
After breakfast we’ve separated as everyone wanted to do some shopping and just have some time on their own, but at 1p.m. we’ve again together taken cab to the airport as we were flying to Delhi – visible sign that our trip is coming to an end.
Everything went smooth until we’ve boarded. When we were about to take off, technical problems were announced and in the end after it was repaired we had almost hour and a half delay so we reached Delhi by night.
As we arrived to New Delhi Railway station all the fun has begun. We’ve found guest house, but of course we were fished by one of those guys who tell you that their place is the best, they have everything and it’s the cheapest place we can imagine. He told us 600 rupees, but by the time when we got there it was 900, and I said NO. That was too much; I just hate how they cheat. I’ve just walked out and they started to call me back and in the end we got 600, but room was ugly. Cockroaches, smelly with cigarettes and loud.
They’ve also tried to scam us on the way from station to Main Bazaar (Delhi Khao San road). Some drivers were trying to convince us that we need some kind of permission to rent a room, and we can get it in the tourist center which is situated somewhere and they will drive us and so one. At one point we’ve almost believed it as it was not only one guy stating that, but in the end we decided that we don’t care and we will think about it when we are not allowed into any hotel.
But there were also good cab drivers and one of them showed us the way to Main Bazaar via the railway station (we just had to jump over the fence as the way was blocked, but as everyone was going like that we’ve joined them). And it was maybe 5 minutes walk. But in fact I hated that part. It was crowded, loud, everyone was pushing you. Just like in Beijing. It’s so similar here. The same smells, the same habits, as much smog as there. Just different food, people and language.
By the time we organized ourselves, got food (we’ve found guide books in GH, so that we knew where to go) and returned it was 11. We were so shattered that the only thing that we wanted to do was to go to sleep, and so we did.
Himalaya from the Kathmandu - Delhi flight

Security gates at Delhi Airport

Main Bazaar by night

Next day in Delhi, after breakfast we had to make decision if we want to go to Taj Mahal. There was no point in going there today s it was Friday and on Friday s it was closed, so the only option was to go there for Saturday and hope that we will make it for the return flight on Sunday at 5 in the morning.
In the end after about 1,5h what we spent at the Railway Tourist Center (also when you want to get here you have to be careful with the scams. On the board with opening times there is huge information that indeed this office exist and you should not listen to anyone trying to point you to another direction or stating that it’s closed or under renovation or anything) Doris bought ticket for the afternoon train to Agra and Jacek and myself decided to stay in Delhi and do sightseeing there.
So the 1st thing that we saw was Red Fort. It is not only military building as the name might suggest but most of all it is show off residency build by Shah Jahan in 1638-1648. It must have been really impressive at the time when it was in full blossom. Even now it looked good enough, even though it was lacking that splendor.
After that we headed to see Jama Masjid Mosque, as it was in vicinity. It’s the largest mosque in India and the one where they would not let us in. We’ve tried two different entrances but each time we were stopped and our pockets and bags were checked for cameras. It is forbidden to take photos there (unless you pay extra, which I was not going to do) and even though we were saying that we are not gonna to take out cameras out they would not believe us. That pissed me of in fact. I was very disappointed how untrustful they are. What for religion is that if they don’t trust people. I think it is very sad…
In the end we’ve just walked around, next we got into some bazaars where we got lost as we were not following any map, but we had a lot of fun. We were just wandering around, observing, taking photos and we got local tea (very strong and very sweet and very milky tea) and some samosas, although I’m not sure if it was good for my stomach as it is still not as it used to be.
After the dinner I’ve decided to give a chance to the local barber and got a hair cut for 2$. Next I also got gratis facial massage and invitation for the free full facial massage tomorrow. That was a little bit dodgy and I did not know what to expect, especially that it was situated in very tiny line that was also leading to our hotel. Also one of the guys there was trying to invite me for a date, but I’ve clearly told him to forget it. Whole situation and place were strange.
Indian tuk-tuks

Red Fort

Red Fort

Red Fort

Jama Masjid Mosque. The one where we were not alllowed to get in, due to the fact that we had photo cameras with us. At least I took one picture.

Muslim district. We've tried tea with milk here. Delicious, indeed.

This Goat must have been really cold as it is wearing a jacket ;-)

Muslim sweets. But they were not tempting at all, especially because of all the flies sourrounding them.

Public writting. The man sitting at the typing machine is paid by illiterate people to write official documents for them.

Our second day in Delhi was as busy as the first one. In the morning we’ve arranged everything for the departure, i.e. we’ve extended for one more night in hotel, booked a cab to the airport. It cost 250Rs whereas Airport Express costs 80Rs each and last train is about 11p.m. so it made more sense to pay 250 for the three of us and be flexible and avoid spending a night at the airport (our flight was at 5a.m.).
After we’ve arranged everything we went to see Akshardham Temple which is built very recently (2000-2005) and dedicated to Bhagwan Swaminarayan. It’s made from pink sand stone and white marble and it’s impressive. This is probably how Red Fort must have looked like in the times of its splendor. All ornaments, carvings, sculptures were so detailed. It was breathtaking.
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take in anything, no camera, no handy, no food, no baby toys, nothing. Just wallet with money (which you may spend in one of plenty souvenir shops) and transparent water bottle. We had to leave all our belongings in the cloak room, but before they took it from us they took picture of you with all valuables – high-tech security system. And personal control was more detailed than at the airport I would say.
Next we took tube to the Humayun’s Tomb (together with Red Fort it is registered at the UNESCO Heritage list) which was built in the middle of 16th century by the Persian born widow of the second Mughal Emperor – Humayun. That tomb was used as inspiration for Agra’s Taj Mahal, so no need to go to Agra.
After that we’ve separated. Jacek went to see some other monuments or old buildings and I went towards Khan Market which is favored by expats and Delhi’s elite. You can get there basically anything, any gourmet groceries and a cup of good coffee what I was doing at the time of writing this chapter.
Entrance to Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb is inside this building

Humayun’s Tomb

From inside of the Humayun’s Tomb


Humayun’s Tomb

Men at work

Tube station

Main Bazaar by night
Last Dinner in Delhi. Dosa - Southern Indian dish.

Going home was said as it always is, but on the other hand I was very happy to leave loud, smelly, dirty and smoggy Delhi behind. Of course it would be too easy if on our way home we would not encounter any problems. First it took much longer than we’ve expected to get through all airport rituals. Were it not for the delayed flight we would have barely made it. Were it also not for the delayed flight that we would catch our plane from Moscow to Warsaw. Even though there were about 10 people taking this flight it did not wait for us and we had to take next one. But Russian style no one knew anything, poor English of customer service did not help much, but in the end we’ve managed to sort it out and we’ve arrived home in the noon.

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