Woke at 4:45am to take the train to Delhi. Delhi will be my last stop on this epic journey through some of the highlights of South and North India. 2 more nights, then it’s back to Singapore!
The train journey was OK, sat in the first class seating – lots of space. Bought some chai. Unfortunately, the gentleman next to me was snoring so loudly I found it difficult to sleep. I moved across to the other seat. Just as I was about to drift away, a young lad came and sat next to me. His friend sat in the aisle opposite. He was friendly enough to begin with, but then his questions became more and more invasive, until they were just plain rude. I wondered if he thought so. Then he asked for my bracelet. For a coin. For chocolate. For 10Rs…..I’d had enough. I wanted to hit him, but in the end I simply got up and walked to some empty seats at the front. Very obnoxious and disgusting behaviour.
Arrived in New Delhi train station, and exited at the wrong gate. Realised my mistake, and walked over the bridge to the other side, which took about 5 minutes. New Delhi train station is huge, with masses of people milling around everywhere, begging, running on the tracks, bumping into each other. I made it to the other side and tried walking towards Paharanj, a lively and crowded backpacker area close to the station. I met 2 Korean girls in the middle of the street, and we tried to find the place together, asked a few people, who surprisingly pointed us in the right direction!
After walking in the street and almost getting killed (pavements are non-existent, and where there are pavements, people selling things, beggars, street kids etc, clog them up, making progress rather slow. Eventually, we arrived at the Main Bazaar, and went our seperate ways. I wandered around trying to find a hotel, and after a few attempts checked into Hotel Vishna, clean and well-appointed with internet cafe and rooftop restaurant. And the cheapest room of the trip so far at 300 Rs. I dropped off my bags and headed into the mess that is the main bazaar. Autorickshaws, motorbikes, cars, cows, dogs, and people all congest its narrow streets, and tiny, filthy alleys branch off in various places. Here, tricksters, touts, scam artists and beggars are plentiful. You can’t trust anyone. By now I’ve started blanking anyone who talks to me. 99% of people want your money, hidden beneath their charming Indian veneers of ‘friendship.’ After 3 and a half weeks in India, the constant haggling, rude questions, begging, pleading, tricking, cheating, scamming, filth, poverty and utterly crushing mass of humanity have become rather tiresome. Delhi is, by far, the worst city in India in terms of the amount of autorickshaws and rickshaws, beggars, street urchins, street hawkers, pollution and filth. What a mess.
I wandered to Old Delhi, which is even worse. Here, pimps whispered words like ‘poke’, ‘sucking’ and the bizarre compound ‘fuck-poke’ leeringly into my ear. Only 200Rs. For 2 quid? With AIDS included for free? No thanks. The narrow streets in Old Delhi are awash with street character, and have certain – albeit hard to appreciate – rustic, dirty, lawless charm. After some time I caught a cycle rickshaw to the Red Fort, Delhi’s star attraction, which was possibly more impressive than the one in Agra.
Here, I bumped into the 2 Korean Girls again, and with them another Korean, whom I had seen in Agra the night before. Apparently, she had gone to Agra with the intention of seeing the Taj Mahal, but the autorickshaw drivers fucked up her day by driving around for 3 hours pretending not to know where the Taj Mahal was. What a bunch of heartless wankers. I felt very sorry for her. She arrived too late to see the Taj, and had to get an early train back to Delhi the next day, so her chance is gone. Agra and Delhi are just full of people who try to trick, scam and rip you off; as though determined to give tourists the worst time they possibly can. Disappointing.
So, I left the fort and caught the Metro back to New Delhi. Luckily, Delhi has a pretty efficient subway system. And clean too! For only 8 rupees, I could get back. I didn’t even have to bargain!
In the evening, at around 7:30, I met the Korean girl, as the other 2 had gone to Varansi. We ate dinner and drank Kingfisher at Club India just off the Main Bazaar. Then it was time for my bed. A chaotic yet uttely fascinating day!