Monday, October 29, 2007

Delhi 6, Blue 0. Maybe 1.

Besides finding a better hotel room, I haven't had much luck yet in Delhi. In fact, I've had anti-luck.

This morning (after the bugs, and the weevils in the cornflakes, and moving to a new hotel room) I set off on the metro for the Red Fort area. My Delhi guidebook says that Red Fort and Jama Masjid are within 2 km of one another, with Chandni Chowk in the middle.

The metro deposits me at Chandni Chowk quite efficiently, and I step out to discover that... well... it doesn't look anything like the Chandni Chowk depicted in Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham. I mean, there's no dancing or anything. Also it's about seventeen times as dirty. I wander around, getting completely lost, until I decide it's time to move on.

There's not an auto in sight, the streets being too crowded, so I flag down a cycle rickshaw. I ask him to take me to Red Fort and expect to hear some outrageous sum, which is what I usually get when I ask to go to a tourist place. Surprisingly he only asks for 50 rupees. I agree, considering we're pretty deep into Chandni Chowk by now, and getting out will be difficult.

Anyway. Long story short, he takes me out and onto the Delhi "highway." On a cycle rickshaw, with no shade, crammed inbetween cars and buses and trucks. We travel for a while. A long while. It's noon. I start to feel a bit unwell.

Then we pass a building. Gandhi National Museum. Holy f*ck. I whip out my tourist map, which I had spent the previous evening memorizing. He's taken me south when he should have gone north, and we're now nearly ten kilometers away from the fort.

I check my watch. I've been on the back of this cycle rickshaw for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, my driver has noticed that I've got my map out and has become upset. He flags down a passing motorcyclist to ask him to ask me what's going on. In the next few minutes it becomes clear that we are very far south of where we should be, and that this cyclist had no idea how to get to Red Fort at all.

I get off. I'm in the middle of Delhi and I don't know where I am (except that I'm standing in front of the Guru Nanak Auto Parts Store) but my sole thought is that I cannot be out in this sun anymore. My face feels swollen. I am about three seconds from bursting into tears.

The cycle rickshaw guy, to his credit, offers me a free trip to anywhere I'd like to go, but I'm not about to get on the back of his ride again. I flag down an auto and pay an exorbitant fee to go back to my hotel and slump into the backseat and wait.

After the hotel, and a cool shower, and an ice cream, and a nap, I'm ready to tackle Delhi again. Back to the metro and this time to Karol Bagh, which was recommended to me as an interesting place for shopping.

But the Karol Bagh stop empties me onto a deserted street; while I was on the metro the sun managed to set and so here I am, in near-darkness, with very few people around. I walk two blocks towards lights but they don't turn out to be anything like shopping; this place isn't a good place to be at all, so I flag down an auto and tell him to take me to a place on my map where I know there will be shopping: the State Emporiums.

But when we get there, the Emporiums are closed.

Anyway. You get the idea.

Now I've got to go find some decent dinner. I've had trouble finding a mid-range restaurant; the Connaught Place eateries are far too expensive, but the local dhabas and cafes are... well, the weevils. For lunch I tried a place that advertised "Famous Hot Hot Baujis," but the baujis were neither hot (temperature-wise) nor hot (spicy). I was so hungry this afternoon that I ordered a packet of McDonalds fries just because I knew they would taste good (and be weevil-free).

We'll see what tomorrow brings. Who knows?


Daniel said...

I would cry, scream, and throw up all at once. This is sounding like a gross, disgusting, and a horrible trip!

I'm so sorry!

Maybe you can, uh, find out where all the tourist people are going....and then, uh, tag along. Or, um, buy a guidebook that's not out of date? OR...I dunno. avoid bugs?

Amit said...

Dunno why Delhi is being such a bitch to you! It generally is a really nice host :-)

How long you in Delhi for? Why not try finding some local people to tide over difficulties? :P I'm sure the blogosphere would rise to help.:D

Have fun, what little you can manage :)

Avinash said...

Getting around in Delhi isn't easy. I know when I first got out of the Delhi metro station at Chandni Chowk, I had no clue how to get to Red Fort. I asked another person next to me and he showed me the way. Red Fort isn't very far from the station, actually.

And yes, Chandni Chowk is very dirty. I went to the famous Parathewali Gali when I was in Delhi last year. However, one look at the place and I couldn't bring myself eat there, no matter how popular it was.

Niranjana said...

Delhi is my least-fave city in India--but the saving grace was always the food. Your story is SAD.
I'm so sorry!
Two words for you: Bengali Market. Its about fifteen years since I last visited, but I know it has the world's best Chole Bature. The latter is the size of a hubcap and holds about as much oil, but it is fantastic...and no weevils.

Anonymous said...

You poor, poor thing, coming from the relatively gentle South. I went to college in Delhi and so I have affection for its raw uncivilized-ness, but I recognize that that may not be a selling-point to a traveler. Have you looked at It's a travel forum and you should find some tips from fellow battered-and-bruised Delhi travelers about how to best to deal with the city and its denizens. In the meantime, as someone said - Bengali market for cheap meals. Also, Triveni Art Gallery near Bengali Market has a very nice cafe (or at least it used to ten years ago) where they sell reasonably priced food and where you can breathe a little easier surrounded by intense artist-types instead of by intense conmen-types.

the saint said...

you could book a cab and a driver for a day - would cost you 600/800 bucks at the most and would be a lot more comfortable - try 9810110627 - Amarjit. And if would like me to put you in touch with some bloggers in delhi, i'll be glad to help..

Anonymous said...

Oh poor Blue! So Sorry Delhi is acting up on you! For shopping ask for Ajmal Khan Road in Karolbagh - that is lined with shops, and has some decent restaurants as well. Other shopping areas: Sarojini Nagar market and Dilli Haat.