So I survived our excursion. We had some drinks at a polo bar, dinner and then bed.The next morning we had a five star breakfast and then reluctantly said goodbye to our hotel. We wandered around Delhi for an hour, all but overwhelmed by the smells, experiences and sheer volume of people. With 16 million in total it felt crammed and we drew plenty of glances from passers by.
One chap grabbed my hand. ‘Hello, what is your name?’ Being polite I answered and also answered his two or three follow ups, London, holiday, 2 weeks all the time edging away. He proceeded to tell me I was in the wrong place and he could get me a taxi to a nearby shopping centre. He had obviously missed his audience here and a firm no thank you and walked away. Problem over.
He followed me, ignoring Jo I might add, for about 700 metres. I said no in every imaginable polite way. By this time he had got a map out, called a tuc tuc and was following me down the street. ‘I said I wasn’t interested, no thanks, I was ok and I didn’t need any help.’ He kept talking. In the end I drew myself up to full height, a good foot taller than him, loomed over him and shouted at him to leave me alone, swiping my hands in a closing gesture.
I walked off, and left him standing surprised and looking a bit sad. Obviously he had only wanted to help me…
Anyway we met the rest of our group, 13 others, 3 Brits, 7 Canadians, 2 New Zealanders and a Slovakian. Really nice bunch.
We survived some more epically crazy driving. I mean it too. These guys are nuts. No joke.
Then after a sleepless night of building work (they do construction where we were between10-8am as it is cooler, thanks for that) we were off to Jaipur.
The coach took 6 hours (FYI India is BIG) and we saw slums, camels and ruins in no particular order.
Jaipur was founded in 1727 and is a lovely pink colour. It is smaller than Delhi and less intense, although we had more beggars come to see us. Kids with kids, ladies with babies, crippled people. One young girl kept grabbing our arms and trying to henna us. Now I like a tattoo as much as the next man but when a girl grabs my arm with a needle like thing poised over my arm, well she does end up being pushed away!
We then went for street mango Lassi, which was delicious and a curry (surprisingly common in India….)
Interestingly 73% of Indians are vegetarian, (according to the guide) so it’s pretty good for non meat eaters. We also have a celiac, she seems to be coping too.
Today we say some elephants being ridden, a fort, and two palaces. We had a great buffet lunch and a live art class. All very opulent. I also saw a man defecating in the street and another chopping off chicken heads alongside a begging child with a leg missing and we nearly hit a dog with a tuc tuc, which had no seat belts and was motorised. India is truly a feast of experience and very difficult to do justice with words alone.
The only way to deal with it is to let it wash over you. Ignore the bad smells, embrace the fact randons want a picture with a European giant and ignore beggars. If you pay attention to them they just swarm!
I haven’t decided how I feel about it all yet. One thing, I’m not bored.
Either way I’ll keep you posted, off to a polo bar and the Taj Mahal tomorrow, before a sweaty sleeper train. See you on the other side!