Day two in Delhi. Well, it is late afternoon and we have retreated once more to the cool and calm of our room, feeling a little more accomplished about our day today. The hotel offers tours of Delhi at 900 rupees for a whole day but we decided that we did want to have to rush so much into one day. Instead we looked to our Sacred LP and picked Humayun’s Tomb in the south of the city. The book recommended getting an autorickshaw from a prepaid booth just down the road by the train station. As we needed to know where that was for our journey tomorrow we figured that would be a good idea. If Paharganj left us feeling a little daunted yesterday, New Delhi Train Station … ‘was shit’ (Rob’s eloquent description there).
We had read about the scams and so ignored the helpful suggestions that the hoards of eager men, trying to befriend us were offering. We headed straight inside, assuming the booth would be a similar set up to the one we had seen at the airport. We ignored the instructions of one man to show our tickets so that he could help, and pursued further into the station, trying to look like we knew where we were going. Turns out he was a manager who actually worked for the station and managed to stop us for trespassing without a ticket. Ooops! He was pretty understanding though and showed us the way to get our autorickshaw.
Rob had seemed a little uncertain about getting an autorickshaw over a taxi, but I was keen to try it and it was certainly cheaper. A policeman hailed one for us, (after a few stopped and then pretended to be broken because they didn’t want prepaid) we gave him our ticket and a look at the guide book – no one here can understand my accent. Or at least I couldn’t pronounce Humayun’s Tomb properly. Then on our way, weaving and beeping through the crowds of beggars and cars. The driver was a bit of a star, catching out a guy trying to cut Rob’s pocket and pointing out all of the attractions along the way.
Like everywhere else in Delhi, Humayun’s Tomb is under restoration at the moment, but it was still a refreshing break from the general mayhem, except here we got followed by dogs instead of people. The buildings (both the main tomb and the dozens scattered around the 30 acre park) were stunning both in their older decayed state, and with their shiny new marble work. Inside was a maze of rooms, some were massive and light, a few darker scarier ones seemed to only house bats. As a (lesser?) precursor to theTaj it is apparently very similar in style, so I’m glad we got to see it before we visit Agra, otherwise we might not have been as impressed as we were today.
Then to lunch. We managed to haggle an autorickshaw driver down to 50 rupees back to Connaught Place, after agreeing to go into one shop on the way so that he got petrol tickets. It seemed a fair exchange and we were very clear about the fact that we weren’t going to buy anything. The ‘emporium’ was air-conditioned and actually had some pretty nice stuff, although the scarf that I liked was our entire days budget so we said thank you and left. Our driver then got a little bit pushy and tried to get us to go to a second, cheaper shop that paid him double the petrol vouchers for a further discount. We held our ground though, and told him to take us to the McDonalds at CP so that we could find our bearings.
Connaught Place is basically a giant roundabout, with two other smaller roundabouts inside it. It is also far too easy to get lost and we managed to wander through most of the area before realising that the road we needed was on the far side. By the time we made it to Sagar Ratna we were really hungry for the first time since landing. We both ordered enormous veg thalis (copying the couple nearby, whose food looked amazing) and with the help of our amused waiter we had our first proper Indian feast. So good.
We braved the metro which was very easy apart from coming out at the wrong side of New Delhi Train Station and having to walk through where we got stopped this morning, luckily not bumping into the same man again. The Main Bazaar where we are staying is changing each time we come back to it and it’s harder each time to spot the little alley where our hotel is. By the time we come back from our round trip of Northern India the building work should have finished and hopefully we can get slightly less chaotic (and muddy) version of the place.
Tomorrow – to Jaipur!
Love Nic & Rob.