Safari in the city
Trip Start Feb 04, 2013
59Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
As I had pre-arranged a pick-up with my hotel (they call the 2-10eur per single room places hotels here...), I met the driver right when I stepped outside of the air-conditioned airport building and into 40 degree celsius Delhi. And of course his name was Raj and we had a great conversation, where he always said "yes" and shoke his head Indian-style, clearly without having understood a single thing I had said..
And as we arrived at the hotel, he of course demanded a tip. Unfortunately I did not have any small notes on me at that time, but instead gave him a dollar note, which I still had from being at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe some weeks before, were I was not able to pay with the note as it looked very fake with some of the colouring already coming off. Anyway, Raj was really happy about it.
Other than expected, it was really easy, meeting nice people in Delhi, with whom I explored most of this gigantic city's sights: Of course I visited the Red Fort and the Great Mosque as well as the marvelous Akshardham temple, which is probably my top Delhi recommendation (This temple boasts of gold, diamonds and marble carvings and was constructed by ~300 million manhours). Also we went to see the Jantar Mantar, Qutab Manir and some other temples like the Lotus or the Hare Krishna temple.
Although all of these sights are really beautiful and interesting, seeing one temple after another (and having to pay the foreign tourist and camera fee, which are usually about 10 times as high compared to what the locals are paying) can become quite tiring
The things that really impressed me the most so far, are not all the temples and sights, but rather the crowds of people everywhere you go and the way they behave. For example I saw an excorcism going on in one of the temples, or the heaps of rikshaw drivers, travel agents, hotel managers, shop owners, etc. who try everything to make their sale and/or earn a commission for bringing you to their friend's, uncle's or brother's place.
This behaviour can get a little bit rude when you are looking for the only tourist train ticket counter in Delhi and all sorts of people stand in front of the signs, blocking your view and trying to convince you that you should buy tickets at their shops as the real office is closed, does not exist any more, there was a fire, etc...
Funnily, the standard phrases used in Africa ("my friend", "special price", "I made it myself") are pretty international, as I seem to be a lot of people's "friend" on India's streets as well, as everybody wants to know how I am doing, where I am from and that they could offer me basically everything for a "cheap price" and with a"good quality"..
But, I guess, I adapted pretty easily so far, dealing with all the noise, dirt and people trying to squeeze the extra rupee out of me. Haggling with rikshaw drivers and argueing with hotel managers has meanwhile even become some sort of sport.
When dealing with children, women, cripples or any combination thereof, one must simply be numb, which can be extremely tough when a 10 year old kid asks you for money while riding up the escalator and he sits on the handrail next to you - having no legs...
Furthermore there is dirt whereever you look and there are holy cows, monkeys, pigs and dogs all over the place in the middle of town, which is why I like to compare it with a Safari in the city as you can see so many different animals and you never know what to expect to experience behind the next corner.
Back at home two of my friends provided me with a care package for my trip consisting of all sorts of 'useful' equipment
And I can truly recommend it as a must-read to everybody out there.
Usually a book has lots of ups and downs, but the storyline of this book only has a constant high, when the reader learns about the exciting life of a man and his horse.
Well, by now you might have realized that this book might not be as cool as maybe promoted in the first place, but it definetely made me laugh a lot and start good conversations when people saw me reading this book in the hostel...So, thanks guys!
PS: My friends were kind enough to leave the price tag (1€) attached, which is why I didn't feel to sorry when I "accidently forgot" the book somewhere and probably made somebody else very happy:)