First ever Indian Grand Prix
Trip Start Dec 29, 2010
152Trip End Dec 05, 2011
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Having got in very late on the Friday night I got up at 5.30am and left Katherine with the kids to do the Old Delhi cycling tour. Riding a bike around Delhi is totally mad and only a Dutchman could make a business from it. However, as we set off just after sun rise the traffic was somewhat easier and it is a great way to see a god chunk of what is an incredible city. I had to cut out half way through the official tour as we were due for a relatively early start for the GP practice day on Saturday. But the highlight was the old spice market - the largest in the world, although someone told us the same thing about the spice market in Istanbul. This one is certainly very authentic - so much so that the spices hanging in the air make you immediately sneeze, cough and splutter - interesting while trying to control a bike in Delhi traffic
Given we had tickets to the GP on Saturday as well as Sunday, and we elected to take the boys on just Sunday, I took Georgie, Manjeet and Babu (our legendary driver for the last month) to the practice sessions. They really are becoming an event in and of themselves and everyone enjoyed getting a feel for the race and the noise of the cars. We were also getting a feel for the reality of the logistics of India's first GP. Crowd management is not a strong point in India, nor is traffic management, driving or parking. Hosting a GP tends to require expertise in all these areas.
The authorities had elected to provide a large park-and-ride service to bus most people in to the race track (those who did not have VIP passes). God knows how many Indians jamming themselves onto old buses for the ride to the circuit was not my idea of a happy start to a day out with 2 little boys! Even the traffic getting to the park-and-ride was a nightmare as any sign of traffic control is completely ignored by all Indian drivers, so one way streets designed to ease the flows of buses became 6 lane highways going in both directions with parked cars piled high on each side. The ensuing chaos had India written all over it. -Oh well, we would take the books for the kids and just wait it out
We did race back from the practise session on saturday to spend a nice afternoon with Manjeet and his lovely young family at a great restaurant and then at something we did not think existed in India - a kid friendly park. Manjeet has tolerated our niosy brood for the last month so it was nice to meet his lovely 3 year old sone Aangan and his 8 month old daughter as well as his wife and her sister, both of whom had grown up in Boston, USA.
Race day - we set of relatively early - or at least we thought early, given the potential traffic problems. However, a 10am start for a 3pm race seemed a popular time to depart for the whole of Delhi. But truth be told it only took us 2 hours which was not that bad, delivering us in time to see the drivers parade, the pit lane walk and then have lunch before the line up and the start of the race. Lunch was a little interesting, in fact truly the most disgusting culinary experience we have had in India. We got the kids a chicken burger each - at 350 rupees it was almost 4 times the price of McDonalds and despite asking them to warm it up 3 times was totally and utterly inedible. So they had muffins and some fizzy drinks instead. Zach thanked Katherine 'three thousand' times for letting him drink a whole can of Mountain Dew in one go
The kids loved the race, the noise was extreme, but they are huge fans of Lewis Hamilton having seen him in Cars 2 this summer. We had superb seats in the main Grandstand overlooking the start and finish lines, and the pit lane, in fact right opposite the McClaren and Redbull's garages so plenty of action for all to see.
Sebastian Vettel lead from the start to dominate the race but Jenson Button did well to come from 4th on the grid to second which pleased us Brits. We left 8 laps before the end much to Jamie's disappointment, he absolutely loved every second. But we had to negotiate what felt like it would be a million Indians trying to get home all at once.
The push to get on the buses was something to be seen, pushing and shoving is a national pass time in India. But they do it with some degree of grace and decorum. I soon started pushing people out the way, it helps that the average Indian male is a good bit shorter than me. Having shoved and shouted and established there were little boys to protect a few helpful guys ensured some sort of a path up to the bus appeared and in fact we were out of there in much better time than we had thought.
A much easier end to a great day!