Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Dawdling in Delhi

Johdpur, India - New Delhi is actually the 8th Delhi built in the greater Delhi area. It was the British who built this most recent one. They started construction in 1911 when the decision was made to move the capital from Calcutta. In 1947 the year of India's independence it became the capitol of modern India. In 2007 we showed up because New Delhi is the cheapest place to fly out of South Asia.

Our faith in the ineptness of the Indian railway system was cemented when the Taj Express from Agra to Delhi (which is supposed to take 2 1/2 hours) was close to 3 hours late. Arriving at 12:30am we made our way by auto-rickshaw to the backpackers area of Paharganj and told the driver he was full of shit when he tried for a 50% up-charge on trips after 11:00 pm (it's 20% max). These guys make it really easy to eliminate the need to tip.

One night in Paharganj was enough. After 6 months on the road Suwei and I have grown a bit weary of the backpacker scene and Paharganj is far from one of backpacking's nicer spots. Crowded, noisy, dirty, polluted. It's nice that the cows are there to eat the garbage. It's just a shame that the cows have no place to shit but back onto the road for all to trod in.

We ended up ponying up for a nice hotel in the more central shopping district of Connaught Place. Suwei said we should do it because I was still feeling a bit under the weather. I said we should do it because it was Suwei's last few nights in India. Either way we cover each other's guilt for going upscale. It was one of our better decisions.

Much of New Delhi is actually quite nice and Connaught Place is one of the most pleasant. Connaught is a series of concentric circles lined with shops surrounding a central park under which lies a major hub for Delhi's very new and very clean metro. No cows allowed. Perfect.

The Red Fort

We had 4 days in Delhi (Sept. 28th to Oct 2nd). We did one full day of tourist sites, two days attempting to shop, one day of pure dawdling due to it being Suwei's last day of the trip and Mahatma Gandhi's birthday.

The Qutb Minar (In my head it will always be The Q-tip Minar)

Notes on New Delhi:
  • The Red Fort, Delhi's most popular attraction, is dull as hell. The only good thing I could say about it is that its quieter inside than out.
  • Mc Donald's India does not serve hamburgers. They do make a damn tasty veggie burger, however
  • Coffee is popular. It took us close to 45 minutes to get one... and that did not include the time it took to get and pay the bill afterwards.
  • The Qutb Minar is where it's at. About 8 km south of city center, it's a much more interesting and pleasant place than the Red Fort. For more details check out the slide show.
  • Nothing is open on Mahatma Gandhi's birthday... well... almost nothing.
  • You need a ticket or proof of purchase to get into New Delhi's international air terminal. Suwei didn't have one and had a hard time convincing security that she was not there to blow the place up.

Suwei acting like she is upset to head home... This after security wasted 30 mintutes running us around to every locked Thai Airway office, in order to prove that she indeed had an e-ticket and was therefore allowed to inter the terminal.

That's right... Suwei has left me. She's gone home because our six months are up and it's time to go back to work. She wanted to spend about a month working out of the Oakland offices before we head off to Colorado. By stretching logic to it's outermost limits, I somehow convinced myself that it may be cheaper to continue traveling for a bit until she is ready to head east. I know it doesn't work that way, but it does give me a chance to see a bit more of India and to see some friends on the way home. So while she took off for the Bay Area, I prepped for my train trip east into the desert.

Next time ...Jaislamer.

Here is the Slideshow:

New Delhi, India

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