Delhi... what a shithole

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Flag of India  , NCT,
Wednesday, November 16, 2011



So today we had a pretty easy ride into Delhi... in theory
but of course nothing is easy in India if they find something that is then
they'll change it.

A top guy I used to work with back in London messaged me
online that he was in Delhi and so we decided to meet up. Getting to Delhi was
one thing, getting across from one side to the other was quite another. There
are no ring-roads (of course) and so the only way was to ride straight through.

We set off from a slightly surreal hotel in the middle of
nowhere. It was like an oasis of civilisation in the midst of chaotic shambles
of dirt and insanity. They messed us about though, when we found the place I
made a point of explaining I had no money, only a debit card and showed them my
card and was told it was no problem. When we had dinner it turned out it was
indeed a big problem because my card didn’t work at all. So in the morning we
tried again and on the second attempt it worked. Probably.... you can never
tell here.

So we had breakfast which was radically different to what
was described but it was food nonetheless so we headed onto the road with full
stomachs ready for the 90 mile ride into Delhi.
The post code was set in the Satnav and we were ready for the horrors of
Indian traffic.

The roads were terrible, we have a 5 year old map showing
the main road into Delhi but it still isn’t finished, in fact it still isn’t
close to being finished. We were lucky to drag on for a few miles before the
constant diversions through little dustbowl towns with the maddest driving
we’ve ever seen. Progress was ploddingly slow and hot and uncomfortable. We
stopped for water and the usual crowds gathered. The guys from the shop came to
ask where we were from and how much the bikes were worth, just for a refreshing
change. I didn’t drink the coffee this morning through fear of the water
causing still more stomach problem but I had a can of coffee later on which hit
the spot nicely. We had taken a wrong turn and got off a section of road into a
town, I was following and I didn’t see any turnoffs either, that cost us about
half an hour of being stuck in stationary traffic while people stared,
wide-eyed and nudged one another, gazing at the bikes like they were alien spacecraft.

After what felt like hours because it was hours we finally
saw the signs for Delhi. We had battled on for a measily few miles but it was
just taking so long to move through the solid traffic.

Once we were into the city itself we transferred to the
second level of hell itself. The city was stationary with people honking horns
constantly without relenting and forcing their way into whatever gap you left.
We had to turn the bikes off in the traffic jams, the heat was really building,
mine is a lean-burn engine and gets extremely hot and it was already 30
degrees in the shade. We had to take off our lids and drink water but it wasn’t a problem,
nothing was moving anywhere. At one point three small children came up begging,
they were tiny and stared at us with old eyes with no innocence left that
already knew that the world was not a friendly place. We couldn’t give them any
money but we played with them, they felt the hot gas from the exhaust and liked
it when we blipped the throttle. Marcin even let them twist the throttle and
make his engine roar, he never normally lets people touch but these were just
tiny kids and I guess he's just a big softy. They were filthy and hopeless, two young boys and a girl, none could
have been more than 8 but if we gave them money someone would take it off of
them. These kids need someone to just take them off the streets and give them a
home but the streets here are littered with camps and slums where families and
entire communities live rough. It's an awful situation and one that nobody here seems to care about.


Due to an error on the GPS we ended up on a building site in
the middle of nowhere. Most of India is a building site and most of the
building sites have no signs of progress or anyone working on them. It’s like
the entire economy simply collapsed at some point and decay set in and started
eating everything alive. The building site showed as a main road on our maps
but was nothing more than sand and mud like many of the roads here. Eventually
we checked the address and got a lock on where we were meant to be... 15 miles
away. That was a hell of a long ride through the bottlenecked hell of Delhi.
Finally through more luck than judgement we managed to find the place where my
friend was staying. We texted him and then settled down for something to eat in
a chinese place that looked clean.

The food somehow magically doubled in price and people kept
coming in to introduce themselves and say how much they liked our bikes. While
we appreciate the enthusiasm, it’s annoying when you’re having lunch. One guy
rode up to us on a tiny scooter, looked straight at us with a deadpan
expression and simply said, "Awesome!" Then he rode off.That was cool, he just hit my funny bone square on and I laughed for ages on that one.


So by the time we finished, my friend had turned up. He was
in a hurry to get somewhere but Marcin was busy arguing over the bill and the
fact that food turned up he never ordered. In the end we had to go, we dropped
our bikes back at the flat, jumped into a car and dashed off. My friend is
Indian and therefore genetically incapable of operating a vehicle safely or
anything like it. He was talking on the phone and got caught by a traffic
police officer. He went very sulky like a naughty child as he respects
authority absolutely. We caught up about things on the drive and it was very
strange to be talking about things so mundane during something like this trip
where we’ve broken down so many barriers and done so much. It was great to see
him but it felt very surreal to be discussing my old life in the middle of my
new one. On the way back to his flat we got a box of beers and a few cold ones
for the ride. We went back to the flat and my friend was horrified to discover
we had no clothes to change into for a night on the town. We tried to explain
we weren’t really into nightclubs, a bar would be ideal but he had a plan. The
plan led us to a club which was pretty awful. Beer was the price of solid gold
and nobody seemed to want to talk to us. Fairly typical of India so far,
there’s none of the warmth and sociability of other countries, in fact all
other countries.

Then it all went a bit wrong. It seems I had dropped a
bottle which had slid down the roof and hit a car, braking the back window. We
left and a million Indians were shouting at us. We had no idea what was going
on but a big one threatened me. I went after him and he ran off, it turned out
he was the car owner and that their barks are worse than their bite but I have a temper and when people shout at me I like to punch them in the face until they stop. My friend
was getting very worried and in the end the police arrived, it was easier and
quieter to sort it out with them so we went to the station. They tried to push
us but were firmly warned not to touch us.

So at the police station we were finally told what this was
all about, hardly the crime of the century and I said if it was my fault I’d
pay for the window. Then the police tried to get heavy, they started shouting
and pushing and got pushed back a lot harder. Then the chief of police came in
screaming. I told him he was a stupid, fat inbred and he left. More police
tried to push us and got pushed around. They tried to cuff Marcin but he
shrugged off three of them. They had no idea what the hell they were doing.
They demanded my passport but I refused, reminding them it was a free country
and I was not obliged to carry it. I told them I would call the British Embassy
if they didn’t stop behaving like fucking idiots and then they did kind of stop
behaving like fucking idiots.

My friend was panicking at this point but we couldn’t take it
seriously. I knew there was nothing they could do and they knew it too. They
had no idea what they were meant to do and as we weren’t frightened of them
they were a bit lost. So I paid the excess off the guys insurance and that was
that, we left.

So... it was the first time we were arrested on the trip. So
far.

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Comments

terence henry understick on

Ha ha! At last, big men! Surprised and not a little disappointed you've not had your collar felt till now. If it was Burma they'd just shoot. Did Marcin manage to get this on video too?

thu on

oh yeah, I forgot: bloody foreigners, comin over ere, payin more for our beer, drinkin it, smashin fings up etc etc. You'll be ravishing goats next...or with enough beer maybe the goats will be ravishing...

Norm on

The missus went to India many years ago and described it thus 'Nothing but shit and curry.'

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