India – Part 1 (The Hustle)

The planned trip was Delhi, Goa and Mumbai. I’m going to split this in to two so it’s not well long…..it will be positively short in comparison to South America part two. I’ll do Delhi and Goa part 1 in part 1 and I’ll go Goa part 2 and Mumbai in part two after South America part 3 in Feb/March…..keeep up guys

I have to admit the trip did not start well. After sipping Bellinis at Heathrow airport for far to long we realised that it was final call for the flight heading to Delhi, we downed the final dregs and started running whilst simultaneously looking for our gate. It’d be a really short post if I said we missed our flight here, but we didn’t. We made it! I had booked my flight separately from Jack, Alex and Grant and so was sitting a few rows away from their luxury exit seats, their exit seats which would later become a lot less luxurious.

Half way through the flight, I felt woozy. Stuck in a middle seat I was conscious of how often I got up but the wooziness got the better of me and I had to make my way to the toilet! I was violently sick and felt a bit better so went back to my seat until another wave of sickness hit me and I had to rush back to the toilet. After the third time of this happening within an hour I decided I could no longer disturb the poor lady sitting next to me so with no where else to go and my three friends soundly asleep I decided to lie down in their extra leg room like a dog! It was cosy and it had much better access to the toilets, and the only inconvenience was that of my friends, who let it be felt by a few kicks to the ribs.

The sickness passed and we landed in Delhi. We’d been warned that Delhi was busy. When we landed we were pleasantly surprised that the airport was empty and even when we got to the subway, empty so we presumed the rumours were just that, rumours.

They were not just rumours.

We got of the train at Delhi station came outside and I literally laughed out loud! There were so many people it was absolutely ridic. What made it funnier was Alex had a suitcase rather than a back pack and when he was dragging it along there were three people between him and his suitcase at all times. Anyway Alex’s long arms aside picture the scene there were thousands of people outside this station and most of them were trying to get over a small walkway/bridge over the railway tracks and this is where the fun began 😂.

We joined the crowds trying to cross the bridge and were chased up the stairs by an official looking man who told us we needed to pay to cross the bridge, this seemed strange to us as no one else was paying. The man said casually that it because we are foreigners. He was only asking for about a pound each so we were going to pay until Jack pipes up and said “hmm come over here” we followed him and out of ear shot of the suit Jack told us he’d read about this and it was a scam, lonely planet done us a favour. Instead of confronting the man about this we decided to do what any polite young Englishmen would do and just walked in the opposite direction and decided to go round the railway rather than over it.

Walking round the busy part of Delhi was fun except it seemed every Indian was intent on sending us to Connaught place I am not exaggerating when I tell your hat every single person we spoke to sent us there it was ridiculous, before we knew why we eventually found out, the fact that everyone sent us there was encouraging. That encouragement soon turned to disappointment when we found Connaught place, it was just a hot bed of conmen. “Travel Agencies” everywhere. These travel agents were telling us that due to Barack Obama’s upcoming visit all tourists would need a security pass, we knew this was bullshit but the sheer amount of people telling us meant we were going to give in, after all all they wanted was a pound. So we picked out the most trustworthy looking conmen and entered their shop, to ensure minimal amount of conning two of us stayed outside and two of us went in. I stayed outside. A taxi driver approached me and said “these are bad men, where is your hotel” so I told him and he said I’ll take you there (for the equivalent of about 2 quid) so I rushed in the shop told the guys about the taxi driver and we jumped on the mans taxi and headed to our hotel.

We arrived at our hotel in Paharganj and despite the slight unnerving metal detector at the reception the hotel was very nice.

Delhi has some fantastic places to see and we only had 3 or 4 days, it was about 5 years ago I can’t remember exactly. Anyway, our main focuses were

  • Jama Masjid of Delhi
  • Delhi as a base for a trip to “Agra” home of the Taj Mahal

Jama Masjid

This is one of the biggest mosques in the whole of India. It’s located in the Old part of Delhi so we headed there on our first full day. The old town is I think authentic would be the best word to describe it …and we stuck out a sore thumb! Naturally a starey bunch of people anyway the locals were even more intrigued by the white 6 foot (not me or Grant) obvious tourists walking through the streets. Anyway we got to the mosque and went in, took our shoes off first obviously and went for a nose around. I mean it was big and I’m not really sure what else to say, there was some great views from some of the towers. Weirdly at the top of one of the towers a local man asked for a picture with me, something that become a bit of a running joke throughout the India trip, anyway not one to disappoint I obliged

He looks very pleased to be there

After this, and still in old Delhi we hailed down a Tuk Tuk to drive us to Jaipur Gate. This driver quoted us 300 Rupees, about 3 quid I think and started to drive us. He then stopped at a checkpoint got out and asked someone for a cigarette right in front of us! Got back in the Tuk Tuk and told us he had been fined and we would have to give him 500 Rupees, Grant wasn’t having this and said we literally saw you ask that man for a cigarette, you didn’t get fined, and we aren’t paying you. This didn’t seem to bother our driver who carried on driving us to “Jaipur Gate”. After a while Jack said we were going in the wrong direction for Jaipur gate so we demanded the man let us off the Tuk Tuk, once he let us off he tried charging us more money, which we didn’t give him. I realise I’ve moaned about this journey a bit so to lighten the mood whilst in the Tuk Tuk to to wring place we did see a naked man escorted by Police with sticks so you know…..every cloud.

Long story short though, we never saw Jaipur Gate. Instead we got the subway back to Paharganj and found a reputable company to organise our trip to The Taj Mahal, once that was done we headed back to our hotel.

Our hotel was an odd place, pleasant, just odd. As we were walking back to our rooms a man started following Jack and Alex and they had to run back to their rooms, thankfully Grant and I were more lucky and no one followed us. We got in our room, which was freshly clean and prepared for a little nap when there was a tap on the door so I answered and it was one of the men who worked at the hotel. “Sir we have cleaned your room” he said. I replied “thank you”. He still stood there for an awkwardly long amount of time so I had to clarify and I just asked in way that came out much ruder than I intended “what do you want, money?” Thankfully the rudeness went straight over his head and said yes so Grant and I scraped some money together and paid him.

I was later told by Alex and Jack that the man who followed them also wanted money, scared to confront said man they shut the door before he caught up and then slid money underneath the door.

Taj Mahal

The next day was the planned trip to the Taj Mahal, we were half expecting no driver to turn up at 6am that morning. Our half expectations were not met when we saw a car outside our hotel, a car but no driver. We needed to investigate the lack of driver and so we approached the car when we saw a small man running towards us giggling, behind the giggling man were two dogs playfully running after him. It came as no relief as the man introduced himself as our driver, he later told us he’d been feeding the dogs but they scare him so as they got playful he ran off. Prem, our driver for the day became one of the highlights of The Delhi prt of the trip.

The drive to Agra, of the Taj Mahal is about 4 hours from Delhi so it was a long drive, we spoke to Prem about life in India to pass the time until about half an hour before we got to Agra where we stopped for breakfast, a breakfast where it seemed no matter what you ordered you came away with a Masala Omlette, so after four unordered masala omelettes we were ready to get going we walked back out to meet Prem who was standing with a younger more slender man. Prem told us he would like to introduce us to our guide for the day, we all shook hands. I think it was Alex who piped up with the obvious question of how was our guide going to get to the Taj Mahal as Prem’s Toyota Prius was already full with Alex, Jack, Grant and myself. Prem told us, as if it wasn’t a problem, that our guide would be joining us for the remaining 30 minutes. So after a painfully claustrophobic car journey we arrived at the world famous site and arranged to meet Prem in a couple of hours.

We annoyed the tour guide with stupid questions for the entirety of our tour so much so that he would walk off and then when we’d join him he would just be doing the tour but to no one. The bits we did hear though were interesting and it is a well cool building, I enjoyed it. In Agra there is also an old fort that we visited which was decent mainly because of all the Monkeys that were there.

A candid picture of the tour guide 🙂

Our journey back was the highlight, after we visited an obligatory gift shop Prem was ready drive us home.

The roads in India are “fun” for want of a better word and Prem managed to make them more fun as we were leaving a service station, he decided that a good time to take a selfie of him and his new found English friends was as he was pulling on the motorway. We all cried out Prem ‘no not now’ and instead Alex took the selfie! We survived thankfully.

Here’s Prem

Prem, it turns out had recently become a father, he told us about the Hindu tradition of naming the baby after 21 days, I often think about Prem’s nameless baby and hope she’s doing well.

Anyway Prem got us back to Delhi and all was good. We decided to have dinner in Old Delhi that night as Jack had read about a decent restaurant so we made our way over there and never actually ate in the famed restaurant. We were walking through the back streets of Old Delhi where there was no street lights and only a handful of people when the sounds of call to prayer started in the streets, lost, out of our comfort and signal zone and extremely hungry the sound was enough to send us searching for a Tuk Tuk to drive us back to the safe bustling cow ridden streets of Paharganj. Once there we ate in a local restaurant where we were given the choice of Meat or Vegetable, none of us felt brave enough to try the mystery meat so we all ended up with Vegetable curry and a prison style silver cup of water. The reason this noteworthy is because for all for of us this meal came to 3.30, absolute bargain. I wish I could point you all (Alex, Grant Jack or one of the five others reading this) in the direction of the restaurant but it was a very non descript place and the name was in Arabic sooo sorry about that.

The next day we were making our way to Goa for the first half of our beach holiday.

Our trip in Goa consisted of two parts a stay in the North of Goa and a trip for a few days in the South of Goa. There are a couple of highlights to the trip in North Goa one was a horrible Englishman abroad and one was a greedy Indian man. See a balance of horribleness. I’ll cover the greedy Indian man first, he was the owner of our Hotel in Goa. When we checked in he slowly counted our money about 4 times, that is no exaggeration, and we had to sit in reception and watch him. Once he was finally satisfied that we had paid the right amount he took us to our rooms, not before asking for our passports “to put in his safe” which was actually the seat of his moped. Anyway he showed us to our room, we walked in and he told us this two person room was for all of us and so some of us would have to stay on the floor on mattresses, we refused and showed him our booking which confirmed we had booked two rooms. The greedy landlord then knocked on our new neighbours door and told them that we were staying in their room, this time they refused, this lead to the man to take us to an empty room and let us stay in there, to this day I have no idea why he didn’t just give us that room straight away. The problems didn’t end there, Grant had bought WiFi with his room and complained when his dongle didn’t work so the greedy landlord came up and tried to connect his phone to Noones surprise this didn’t work. The owner opened a window and ordered Grant to “try now” Again this did not work. The problems with this accommodation continued when we struggled to get our passports back, eventually, after a day of them being his moped seat he returned them. On check out the man said to us “Good Review eh?” Needless to say we did not give him a good review.

Would you leave this smiley man a good review?

The second story of The northern part of our trip is a quick shout out to the most obnoxious English man abroad. When wanting another drink at 1pm in the morning he just held out his empty bottle, in an outstretched hand, without breaking conversation with his mates the waiter came and got the drink, he kept his hand outstretched and waited for the waiter to put a drink back in his hand. The man did not say please or thank you once…..horrrible.

Finally one thing I remembered as I wrote this and it was a personal highlight…..we found a night club that served Garlic naans at 4am in the morning. Loved it.

Anyway I’ll finish off India another time as this one is getting longer and longer and I swore to myself I would shorten them.

3 thoughts on “India – Part 1 (The Hustle)

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