It’s filthy, overpopulated, and insensitive yet welcoming with curses, warm greetings mixed with a whiff of heavy pollution. Welcome to India!
As a Non-resident Indian (NRI) for the past two decades, yearly trips to India was and still isn’t a priority, and the handful of stints when a travel was taken, it was restricted to the south side of India, mainly my hometown Mangalore and Bangalore (Bengaluru).
I’ve been asked PLENTY, “Hey, have you visited the Taj Mahal?” and my reply would always be a disheartening “No.” As the reply would most often follow with: “Are you not Indian?! How have you NOT visited the Taj as yet?!” It’s as if visiting the Taj would automatically make me a “true” Indian, ey?
A swift planning and the eagerness to visit North India, the itinerary was set, the hotel(s) were booked after a careful selection from the ever-so helpful Trip Advisor to ring in 2014 on a surprisingly low fare travel rate by Emirates Airlines flight to the capital of India, New Delhi.
2014 North India Itinerary:
Dubai > Delhi > Agra > Delhi > Kalka > Shimla > Manali > Dehli > Dubai
Day 1, 8 and 9 – Delhi:
A smooth touchdown in New Delhi greeted the arrival with a low lying cool breeze mixed with an aroma of smog.
The lack of knowledge by not one, but two taxi drivers on the location to the pre-booked hotel of choice added to the predictability of being in India.
Tossing the luggage into the hood of a semi old, yet truly trampled car, the third and final selected taxi driver who seemingly proved assurance of knowing the location, accelerated the gas pedal in a Grand Theft Auto (GTA) fashion out of the airport and into the bustling city.
You know how you often hear Dubai drivers being rash? Well, welcome to Delhi where a three lane road multiplies x 2 to form six lanes (or more) which include, cars that have been scratched to infinity with a multitude of paint skid marks, toss in in a few worn out government buses, the every so loved rickshaws and of course, the self-titled kings of the street, motorbikes you get the true arrogance of Delhi mixed with impertinence, impatience-ness and an array of colorful expletive words that I for one was pleased to hear. At this stage, the capital met all my hearsay expectations. Horary! What a welcome to Delhi I’d say. Nauseously stepping out of the taxi and into the hotel, we were pleased with the option of stay.
Crossing the roads and streets of Delhi was THE most life threatening part of the North India trip. Forget what you’ve learnt about giving passengers way in your driver’s class, it’s the opposite down in Delhi, regardless!
With the Mission Impossible theme song replaying in my head, I bravely and skillfully crossed or aptly put, ran across the road successfully without being trampled to death by the heard of pedestrians or the absurdly speeding cars, rickshaws and the rest of the automobile clad.
The crustiness of filth layering over the years paved way as I walked around the streets where a crowd gathered and as my curiosity increased, I leered over to see why a line of men spread across the roads of Delhi. BIG MISTAKE as little did I know, what I glanced at would be a dedicated “open lavatory” area for the men of India. OMG, my eyes! How I wish I could un-see the ghastly sight of a loo in the middle of a busy road in the capital of the city. SIGH
As the capital, Delhi treasures the most historic and monumental spectacles in India. A day trip was booked with a local tour guide that would cover a few, if not all, wonders that Delhi has to offer, mainly the tourist attractions that I was glad to see, such as, India Gate, Lal Qila (Red Fort), Qutub Minar, Raj Ghat, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Laxminarayan Temple, Lotus Temple, Indira Gandhi Memorial along with the Rashtrapati Bhavan and various other government locations.
Visiting these memorials, shrines, tributes etc. added to the excitement of travelling to the North as the beauty that each held for centuries was uplifting. The most unforgettable visit was to the memorial dedicated to the late Indira Gandhi – a truly heartwarming and tear drop moment as I walked around the house filled with images, historic newspaper clipping and blood soaked torn articles of clothing hanging inside the memorial.
Delhi Eats & Shops:
The spiciness of North India is celebrated across India and the world, and was well evident in every dish ordered and tasted whilst on vacation, as my taste buds was succumbed to the mouthwatering yet numbing taste from the variety of spices.
The Delhi food adventure consisted of a visit to Domino’s Pizza which was a safest option for day one of the trip and thereafter, a visit to Pind Balluchi – a tourist spot for Punjabi food in a rustic ambiance where spice level was mellowed down to compliment the palates from around the world, while on a more classier side, the gem of a hotel, The Pavilion at the ITC Maurya carted the taste of five-star buffet fare from Indian delicacies to treats from the international waters.
The famed chaat of Delhi was readily available along with many juice centers offering fresh chilled juices on the spot while Frontier Biscuit, the egg less biscuit shop provided a taste of the snacks that Delhi has to offer.
Delhi was an experience which a part of me refuses to revisit to the due apprehensive attributes, visible overpopulation, and the vile gazes from the adult Delhi men that lure around the tourist spots to pose alongside with unaware tourist and snicker thereafter in a corner of filth. Disgust would be a perfect description. Yet, being the capital, Delhi entices with its tributes, shopping districts from old Delhi to New Delhi, the magnitude of food options and more for one to experience at least once.
Stay tuned for more North India 2014 adventure posts from Agra, Shimla and Manali.