Of all the places I have been so far Delhi is most definitely the worst. It is neither what I was expecting nor what I would ever wish for. The huge amount of hassle and confusion set to me within 24 hours of being there was almost enough to make me step back on the plane to somewhere new.
I have seen busy streets before but they have never felt anything like so intense, Bangkok, Beijing and Hanoi put together would struggle to match the intensity. Loud horns are constantly echoing in your ear drums and you have to be looking up at traffic the same time you are looking down for poo and making sure your next step will be a safe one. The morning after we arrived our hotel very kindly drove us for free to the ‘tourist information centre’ which was of course their friend trying to sell tours at hugely inflated prices as we were just off the plane.
Apparently a very common way to travel around Rajisthan is by private driver and we were talked to about this for roughly 3 hours before they finally understood that we have an absolute limit of what we spend and that didn’t stretch to anything like what they wanted us to pay, and that although we are white our wallet does not flow with a river of endless money. Half our day seemed to have gone and our driver insisted it was too late to see any attractions for the day so we slunked back to the hotel and spent most of the day there away from the constant greetings of ‘where you from’ ‘what your name’ and ‘look in my shop’. A walk on the street for tasks as simple as buying water or exchanging money could end in such bizarre situations as being led down windy side streets or into a dark room with an armed guard, respectively.
Later that day we were meeting some people for dinner and somehow got dragged into another tour agent. This one was much friendlier, and Kashmiri which may be a defining characteristic. We said we can’t afford a tour and told them our maximum spend and they agreed to that price. So in a short space of time we had decided on a tour that we didn’t even know if we wanted and weren’t sure we trusted the man to even pick us up. Since then I have realised this is as certain as it is possible to be about anything in India.
Our last day in Delhi was equally trying as we attempted to make it to a tourist attraction. After walking through numerous streets that were 50% dug up we made it to a large main road which was splattered with human excrement at either side. We got about 100m further than this in the next fifteen minutes as every single person walking past assured us that we either couldn’t go that way because it was dangerous, a slum, had prostitutes or that we were going the wrong way as the fort was closed on Mondays. Others said that the fort was never closed and others were just telling us their rickshaw price. We turned around as our guidebook also said it was closed so we attempted asking for rickshaw prices for the other attraction. Nobody had heard of it despite Hamuyins Tomb being UNESCO rated. The only person who understood found us a rickshaw and insisted on coming along as our tour guide, for a fee. We reached the end of our patience and retreated to our safe, but incredibly dirty and pidgeon infested, room and decided to skip the attractions until we had our own driver the next day, realising now why so many people opt to have a private driver instead of dealing with the stress of the streets. As it turns out, hiring a driver is a different ball game altogether….