May 2014.

I've bought a campervan as a 60th birthday present to myself, made some curtains and a patchwork quilt, waved goodbye to my family, and set off. My aim is to explore the coastline of Britain, anti clockwise, starting in Kent. I have no idea what will happen.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Day One Delhi

It's six o'clock and I got here at 11am after a perfectly comfortable but pretty much sleepless night flight with Virgin Atlantic. I left my sunglasses at home and could have really done with a pair as I crept around Duty  Free at Terminal 3 in a soggy heap of misery having torn myself away and said goodbye to everyone - and friends and family  being so nice and wishing me well. I lost sight of the intrepid traveller for a moment there.

Arriving in Delhi brought me back to life with a jump, as everyone who has been here said it would.  I found my luggage and the currency exchange place and the pre-paid taxi booth. And then out of the aircon and into the heat - actually not too bad at all, only 32c - and found bay 35 with my black and yellow Ambassador cab with it's door that didn't quite shut and which was largely held together with gaffer tape, and and off we leapt.

I am the first to admit that I am an appalling backseat driver and would, as a rule, much rather drive than be driven. But perhaps not here.. it's a close call but I think I am better off clinging on, eyes shut. And anyway I was rendered pretty speechless. To drive is to  race, and everyone is determined to win -darting, diving, hooting - I was going to say shouting, but that's not true, shouting would make you lose focus. There are building works everywhere so this adds to the general crescendo.

It's perhaps the variety of the vehicles that makes it so exciting..(!) Lorries, buses, shiny new cars, very old gaffered cars, bicycle rickshaws, auto-tooks (3-wheelered, open-sided, one seat for the driver, two behind - 4 or 5 people inside), and bicycles. Bicycles with one person aboard, often two, perhaps a sleeping child across the knees. At the most alarming intersection we waited at this morning - all eyes staring forward, engines revving, the lights about to turn green - a very elderly gentleman with a woollen hat suddenly appeared from left view, not looking to the left or right, peddling an equally ancient bicycle and towing a casually constructed wooden trailer with two vast sheets of ply wood strapped on top. I shut my eyes - and when I opened them again  he was still proceeding very slowly across the traffic and everyone somehow missed him.

I have since been on two more taxi rides - one to lunch and one back, taking in a look at Fabindia (very good, mainly clothes/ fabrics), and looked round a guesthouse called Jacaranda - and  I barely batted an eyelid. (Not true, said for effect, eyelids were tight shut.)

Lunch, with Geeta (who has a travel consultancy Joint Adventures) at her daughter Ratika's house, was delicious - rice, dahl, aubergine, yoghurt and the most delicious relish of mango, mint and garlic. Now I have settled in to my very comfortable room in a friend's apartment, and I am resting.


Ben Keith said...

You made it! Great first blog. Hope all's well. Lots of love, Ben x

fiona said...

Fabbo stuff Widgy.. wish I was with you. Envious that when I write my stuff for the paper it all has to be contained in so few have the space for 'colour' and colourful it is. By the way, why don't you check out the Hope Project in Nizzamuddin and the Sufi centre it's attached to... I can see you as a sufi and there are some nice american sufis there. Sing some quaaalis for me xxxx

Kim Millar said...

Great blog, you make a taxi journey sound like a wonderful adventure. I'm glad the old man made it across the road okay! I envy you the food. Keep blogging!

Sylvia said...

Da India that's my girl! Loved your blog post and look forward to updates xxx

Sylvia said...

I mean fab India. Idiot typist that I am! X

Unknown said...

Great blog - I can just hear the sounds and taste the smells but I would have had my eyes tight shut! Those Indian roads are just crazy. Keep on telling about it all and take care XXXXXXXX B