It’s my first full day in Delhi and I’m exhausted already! Having an amazing, amazing time even as the sweat clings to every pore of my body, sticking my clothes to my skin. It was 47 degrees Celsius today (the 27th). Saying goodbye at the coach stop was a good idea, it felt like a proper adventure by myself. After a traumatic flight and not a lot of sleep, I arrived in Delhi yesterday morning. The first thing I noticed were the people staring, even in the airport, and then the ludicrous traffic system. There may as well not be any lanes, and a horn is as essential as wheels. Rickshaws and yellow green tuktuks fight for space in the Delhi bustle. As well as cars, there are buses, lorries, tuktuks, rickshaws, taxis, carts and even people dodging on the sides of the roads selling rubbish. After pulling over four times, my driver finally found my hotel; aptly named ‘Hotel Perfect’. I walked in, and apart from the raw sewage and beggars, it lived up to its name. At reception, I bumped into Alison, a 47 year old woman from Glasgow and Renata, aged 27 and from Brazil. After I had dumped my stuff, we went to explore Karol Bagh. We changed money in a ‘bank’, where you wouldn’t even dream of keeping animals; a woman was mixing concrete on the floor and there were rabied dogs, holes in the roof and walls and wires hanging from the ceiling. The exchange rate was negotiable, as is everything in Delhi.
We went back to the hotel to decide what to do next but also to seek salvation from the excruciating heat. We agreed on visiting Birla Temple, the local Hindu monument. Travelling by tuktuk is a nailbiting experience as you hang from the edge, clinging onto a rail with one hand as your driver beeps and weaves his way through the traffic. We arrived at the temple and the selling began, barged by postcards and keyrings and even a vendor who tried to sell us a ‘pregnant’ elephant made from ‘marble’. We were to later realise that these elephants would become synonomous with the Indian tourist fare. The temple itself was beautiful and much larger that it looked. We went inside as another family gathered around us and shook our hands and asked us questions. Everyone is friendly here, it’s just that some are friendly for the wrong reasons.
Felt like a bit of a fraud wearing a red dot on my forehead and gazing at Hare Krishna but it was an experience. Our feet were burnt walking barefoot on the hot stones, but these sights are worth it. We met up with the rest of the group when we got back to the hotel. They are all lovely and I am the youngest by far. Sharing a room with Tiffany who is a loud, Arizona- based restauranteur who takes entire summers off! We got on really well and had a nice chat in our heavily air conditioned room. After our introduction where we met Paddy, our tour leader, we went out for our ‘safe’ Indian meal at ‘Crossroads’ restaurant. Went straight to sleep afterwards which wasn’t hard!