Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Call me Bond.....

Before I fill you in on my goings on in Udaipur I have decided to revise my '3 things I hate about India', I am also going to downgrade it to dislike as hate is a strong word.
At number 2 I stated that the personal hygiene was bad. Well thinking about it I know a lot of people in England that stink and have experienced bad hygiene the world over, so I am removing it out of fairness and that it is a worldwide issue. Instead:
2) Litter - there are no bins anywhere. People just throw their rubbish down wherever they are stood. The streets are full and the rivers are full. I passed a river today and it was full of floating dead fish - and of course I took a photo too.
Someone I was talking with remarked that if you hit a pause button now and tried to clean up India of its litter how long would it take? I reckon we are talking years! So that is my new number 2.

Anyway, with that done, Udiapur.
WOW! What a place. After the Jaipur, which I am renaming Sh*tsville, this is a breath of fresh air.
India has a great ability to make me love it at one minute and really dislike it at the next. Jaipur was busy, dirty, poor and the rickshaw drivers were rude, didn't take no for an answer and drove me to distraction - to be honest I was waiting for Nepal to come along.
And then I arrived in Udaipur; just pipping Shimla to my favourite spot in India (so far). Everyone is polite, the rickshaw drivers understand that saying no once is enough and although there are still a few beggars, it just seems much more civilised.
Udiapur is set around Lake Pichola, on which sit 2 floating hotels, the Lake Palace and Jag Mandir. If anyone is getting married soon and needs a honeymoon destination then go to Jag Mandir. I went on a boat trip around the lake and they drop you off at the hotel for a look around - it is fantastic. You have to see it to believe it especially when it is lit up at night Udiapur is also where they shot 'Octopussy' and her lair was based at this hotel.

I am staying at the Khumba Palace hotel. Really nice place with a cool garden in which I can read my book along with the pet tortoise who just meanders around. He seems to have a lot of character for a tortoise and is quite a fast mover which surprised me. The garden also backs on to the City Palace and you can just see the turrets above the wall, so I am right in the thick of it.

My first day was taken up by visiting the Jagdish Temple (huge and as usual fantastic masonary and workmanship), the City Palace (the biggest in India and built with corridors like a maze to confuse any attackers) along with the lake boat trip.
I have to say that I am getting a little sick of visiting Forts, Palaces and Temples. Although they are all great in their own right, I need to look at something different ie. Tigers (in about 1 week), the beaches of Goa and Kerala (in about 2/3 wks) and the mountains (end of Nov).
In the evening I decided to treat myself. Within the grounds of the City Palace is the Sunset Terrace restuarant. It looks out over the lake and the surrounding hills/mountains. The sunset was pretty spectacular and the setting just added to it. The only bad thing was that my 2 drinks cost me approximately 2 nights accomodation! London drink prices vs Indian hotel prices.
After that I went along to one of the many restaurants showing a nightly re-run of 'Octopussy'. It was fun to watch the film with the setting all around you. What was more amusing was that when the location changed to Berlin, Bond was told to go to the road in East Berlin which I stayed on only in September.

Today has been a long walking day. I went to Bharatiya Lok Kala, a puppet and mask museum. I only went there on a recommendation of Sue who I met on the Camel safari, who said it was so bad it was worth seeing. To be fair, she was right, it was poo. The masks were of a standard that a child in nursery puts together with papier-mache and the puppet show was, I dont know how to put it, really cr*p.
There were a couple of schools there so the whole audience seemed more interested in the 'white-skin' (as we sometimes known) than the puppets. A lot of photos and handshakes later, I escaped. One big man even hugged me and kissed me on the cheek to the amusement of everyone, myself included. They say that I have hair like the cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who is a living god here, and that must be why they like me. India is a funny place.
Next was Sahelion-ki-Bari, a garden constructed for the ladies of the royal household. I spent about an hour or so just chilling in the sun and getting some really good nature photos. I will put them up on a facebook when I get a chance and you can all be the judge as to whether I could make a career out of them! Afterall, this is the time to consider all possible career opportunities.

I then spent the afternoon relaxing by the water, reading my book and had the best Orange milkshake.

Not sure about my plans for this evening. I think I may try and impose myself on some unsuspecting travellers and have a beer or two. I got to practice my (shabby) conversational French earlier with a family who were on my train from Jaipuir and they seemed to get the gist of what I was on about, so bring on any nationality tonight!

I leave the lovely Udaipur tomorrow afternoon (boo-hoo) and head to Agra and the Taj Mahal. By all accounts Agra is horrible and touristy but the sight of the Taj is well worth it. I will let you know.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

What is the worst thing you have ever seen?

This post comes from Jaipur - which in my opinion is the worst city I have yet to spend time in, even worse than Delhi and that is saying something!
I got here on Saturday morning after spending a night on the train in a bed next to the loudest snorer ever. There were multiple times that I considered smothering him or myself for that fact to end the misery. I was hoping to get some sort of revenge by purposely waking him up when I got off at my stop at 5am, but unfortunately he woke me up by getting up at 4am to be ready for the same stop. Aaaggghhhh.

Anyway, Jaipur, the Pink City. Don't get me wrong there is a lot to see in terms of sights, but the whole place is busy, dirty, seriously poor and the people are constantly trying to get something out of you.
My first day I took the 3km walk into town (to the dismay of every rikshaw driver I encontered) and during this walk I saw the worst sight. A amn was shuffling down the side of the road on his bum just ahead of me with his legs stretched out in front. As I walked past him I looked over his shoulder as I couldn't figure out why he was moving the way his was. In the approximate 2 seconds that I looked I mananged to register every grim detail. From about 1 inch below his toes to his ankle of his left foot was an open sore. When I say sore I mean the whole of the top of his foot wasn't there. Instead I could see the actual skeleton of his foot amongst the many flies that were feasting on him. Before I knew it I shouted out 'Holy sh*t' and then just put my head down and got moving. It made me feel pretty rough for a good few minutes and I can still see it now. Yuk.

With that in mind that brings me to my worst 3 things about India:

3) Spitting - disgusting habit and everyone does it, men and women. All you can hear are people sniffing and then getting ready to gob it out.

2) Personal hygeine - I do not need to elaborate

1) Animal welfare - I have never seen so many animals that clearly should be put out of there misery. I have seen cows with horns missing and big sores, crippled dogs dragging themselves around looking for food, it is horrible. The worst story I was told which is heartbreaking but at the same time really comical (and I feel so bad for laughing but the image of it is too much for me not to) was about this Oz lad who saw a blind dog. He said it was inching along the path and everytime it heard a car sound its horn (which is seriously about every 2 seconds) the dog was stand totally still to make sure it wasn't him/her in the way. It would then start shuffling again until the next horn!!
Seriously, it is all so wrong.

So, on to more cheery things. My first day was spent visiting the City Palace, Hawa Mahal, which was the place where all of the royal ladies would hang out as they need to be kept away from the view of men, and Jantar Mantar, which was an observatory built in the 1600's. Jantar Mantar was a really cool place and it is amazing that they were able to know so much about the skies and build such advanced tools at that time. One monument there was a massive sundial, 65 feet tall and the largest in the world and it was able to tell the time to an accuracy of within 2 seconds.
In the evening I went to a restaurant and was placed on a table with Jason and Lindsay (married from the US and on a year long honeymoon around India including some volunteer work) and later by Ben (from London and who strangely enough I actually met earlier in the day when we were both looking for directions). These people would become my hombres for the next day.
There were a few sights out of town that we all hadn't seen so we decided to share the cost and go together.
So the next day, after much negotiating with the rikshaw drivers, we went off to visit the Amber Fort, Jaghar Fort, Royal Gate and the Monkey Palace. All of it was quite impressive but it was a long day.
At Amber Fort you could choose to walk up the hill or take a ride up on elephant back. The thing is you all share the same path which was an experiecne walking next to something so huge amd one wrong move and I would be crushed.

To end the day myself and Ben went to the cinema. The Rough Guide (my bible out here) says that if you go to the cinema once in India, then the place we went to last night is where you should go.
The cinema itself was really impressive, the foyer was huge and very grand and the actual cinema itself holds approx 1,200 people. more like a theatre.
The actual film was really good. It was all in Hindi, with the odd line in English. One real example was "what the bloody hell are you doing?" ha ha.
The film was about police corruption in this small town and 2 cops from out of town were brought in to investigate a murder. No lie, at points it was like watching scenes from James Bond or the Bourne Supremacy - I really enjoyed it even though I couldn't understand it. Still the story was pretty easy to follow.
The Indian's all get involved as well, so they applaud, whistle, and shout out 'wwwoooooo' when a romantic scene happens. Funny.
The night finished by meeting up with Jason and Lindsay for dinner and drinks.

Fortunately I am leaving Jaipur tonight and heading to Udaipur with is supposed to be lovely. They also shot part of Octopussy there at the palace in the middle of the lake so looking forward to seeing that.

Friday, 22 October 2010

I tamed the camel and its toe

Hello all

So it has been a few days since my last post and I can happily report that I am settling very well into my new life as a hobo.
So what has been going on?
My last day in Jodhpur wasn't very evenful. I took a rikshaw to the zoo, which was closed, so I walked back into town in the midday heat which was a killer. I had a very cheap lunch in a non-tourist area and paid for it later and I am sure you know what I mean. Incidentally, since my first night in India that is the only time I have been ill, not sure what all of the fuss is about really.
When I got back to my hotel to check out I got talking to this German lad who said that the night before it had all kicked off at the hotel and it was a good job that I was leaving. Yogi's (of Yogi's Guesthouse) brother had turned up and robbed the takings from the restaurant till claiming it was his right because they were family and so there was a big fight. As a result they were closing the hotel for the next few days to sort it out and o I would've had to find somewhere else to stay anyway.

So I got the train from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer. Not much to report there apart from random chat at the train station with various Indians, a coach where the air-con was rubbish and I sweated alot and then waking up in my own sweat in an empty carriage because I woke up 20mins after the train has arrived.

I think Jaisalmer has been my favourite place yet. The hotel I stayed at was within the walls of the sandstone fort, overlooking the Jain temples and the staff were really cool and friendly. The fort itself is the only living fort still in India. It isn't that big but it has a lot of character and as usual lots of cows. Oh, yesterday I was looking up at the architecture etc and walked right through a fresh cow-pat, in my flips-flops!!

My first day in Jaisalmer was busy. I spent the morning watching the sun rise over the desert and then took a look around the Jain temples; amazing architecture and masonary but best of all was a sign stating that if a woman was on her period she would not be able to enter to maintain the sanctity of the place. Ha ha. Not sure how they check this though!?!

The afternoon continuing into the next morning was taken up with a camel safari, which is one of the main attractions for tourists coming to Jaisalmer. I have to say that it was excellent.
My group was made up of Mika, a japenese girl who actually met on Jodhpur the day before, Sue and Kim from Exeter, who happen to live about few miles away from my auntie, and Julian from Oxfordshire who openly admitted that since travelling in the 1990's he always uses his left hand to wipe his bum (at home too) and squats over the toilet at home Indian stylee as well - yes he was a bit wierd but I liked him. It was a good group.
We were taken about 60kms into the desert by jeep and then we travelled a further 2hrs by camel to the sand dunes. According to Sue's thermometer it was 45 degrees in the sun. I am not sure it was that hot but my Arab style head wear shielded me from the rays - great purchase and you can see how ridiculous I look on facebook.
It was my first experience of riding an animal since a donkey on Blackpool or Skegness beach when I was young (we dont talk about the other 'riding' incident in Cardiff a few years ago) and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, everyone seemed to handle the camels really well and no-one fell off. Booooo!
We got to the sand dunes about an hour before sunset and then sat there watching the sun go down with chai (which I still find too sickly) and nibbles. I have to say that at that moment it sort of hit me that that is my life now and not a holiday - quite a liberating experience.
Dinner was cooked over a camp fire followed by singing from our hosts. We then slept under the night sky on just a duvet. By the way, I can believe how much light a full moon gives off - which is not great for viewing stars.
However, I woke about 4am and again at 5:30am to find that the moon had done one and the sight that greeted me was a sky filled with hundreds of stars. I have never seen anything like it. It was like a band of light stretching across the sky and you could so easily pick out the constallations - that was a sight that I will not forget for a very long time.
The next morning we had breakfast and then rode the camels back to the jeep. It was actually a little painful this time and I could feel it down the insides of my groins and legs. They say that women do not suffer this problem, I will let you draw your own conculsions as to why this is!

I am off to Jaipuir (the pink city) today. Train leaves at 4:30pm and arrives at 4am - nice. Still, as I have said before, the sleeper trains are cool and I have my book, so it is all good. Afterall, it is not like I have anythuing else to do is it?

Monday, 18 October 2010

Should I buy some Jodhpurs in Jodhpur?

I am here today reporting from Jodhpur and it is a relief to be out of Delhi. Never again will I go to that place.

Since my last post I left Shimla and travelled back to Delhi. This trip included my first sleeper train. I am in second class which means that I have to share a room of four, basically 2 bunk beds. They are pretty cool actually and the rocking motion of the train makes it feel like you are in a cot. Just need someone to sing 'rock-a-by-baby' to me.
The trip would've been fine if it wasn't for me sharing with a family of 4 that were sharing 3 beds. The little lad who was with them was a right spoilt little sh*t and needed a good clip around the earhole. I have noticed that sons in India are treated like demi-gods and it goes right to their heads.
Anyway, I got back to Delhi at 6:30am and had to get a rickshaw from the station to my Inn. Delhi station is in Old Delhi, a part I hadn't yet visited. It was horrible, real slums and cripples everywhere.
The local barber business was based on a wall. No lie, there were 2 chairs on a ledge, a mirror hanging on the brick wall and the barber's bed next to them - that was his whole life. I do not care what people in England say, they are not skint, not by a long shot.
I spent the rest of the day hanging out at the Inn as my train the Jodhpur was later that evening.
My next sleeper journey was sweet. Train left at 20:45pm and arrived at Jodhpur at 8am. There were only 2 of us sharing the 4 berth and I am pleased to say that I slept from 11pm until 7am. Feeling bang on it today.

My accomodation in Jodhpur is the best yet. The building is really cool and the rooftop restaurant has a magnificent view of the Meherangarh Fort. I had breakfast up there with a Dutch father and daughter (Paul and Sonna) and they filled me in on what to do around here. Thanks to them I will be going to a hotel that will let me use their swimming pool tomorrow for a small charge, it is hot hot hot here.
The fort was amazing and the view from the top over the blue city were cool. There was audio tour as well which was very informative. (Geek alert!)
For Kim Matts - I saw eagles too!!!

After the fort I took a walk down to Jaswant Thanda, a temple set in lovely green gardens in the middle of what seems like barren desert. There I ran into John and Mel, a kiwi couple I met in Delhi and we are meeting up for a beer or 2 tonight so that should be good.

It all got a bit strange on the way back down from the fort. I said hello to a man siting outside his gaff and before I knew it he was giving me a tour of his place. It was small but very nice and I can now say that I have been into one of the blue houses of the blue city. (the blue wash helps to keep the buildings cool).
A little further down some boys made me play cricket with them. They kept reminding me that India is the number 1 ranked cricket team in the world and England number 4 - I showed them that we can still play.

That is about it so far for Jodhpur. I go onto Jaisalmer tomorrow evening and camel safaris in the desert so that should be an experience.
I will check in again soon. A'ight.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

My best night so far

So the night that never should have been in Shimla turned out to be the best so far in India.
Once I found a new place to stay I went to the internet cafe to catch up on the footy. There I met Dr Jatin Arora, the psychiatric doctor for Shimla.
After talking for a while he asked me if I was single. When I told him I was he explained how he could get me 50 Indian women to choose from for a wife. He is single as well and took me through the various Indian dating websites (which are actually matrimony websites).
After an hour of that he took me to a local underground bar that he likes to hang out at. Myself, the good Dr and about 5 other Indian blokes then proceeded to get on it. Amongst the various conversation they taught me a few swear words and were really impressed when I came out with a very crude Hindi saying that I learnt at school. Even people from the other side of the bar got up to see if it was me, a white boy, that had just said it. It was a top night and they insisted at the end that we then take a walk to the main square to take photos.

I am now about to go and catch my train (I have the right day today).

Oh, had my first Skype coversation with mum and dad today. Ha ha, they are funny. Waving like lunatics.

Will next be reporting from Jodhpur. Ciao for now

Friday, 15 October 2010

I really should pay more attention


Tonight is my last night in Shimla. I actually thought it was last night but once I walked the 2 miles to the train station the afternoon and then decided to check my ticket I realised I had it wrong. No worries, just a 2 mile hike back up the hill to the town and find another room.
The bonus of me messing up was that I met Christopher at the station. He is from Calcutta, we got talking and I now have someone to show me around once I get there in mid-November. Every cloud....

Since my last post I have generally been relaxing up in the mountains. Yesterday afternoon after the Monkey Temple I visited the Viceroy Lodge, which was built for the British Raj and they actually ran India from there during the summer months. Quite odd seeing a Scottish looking stately home / castle in these hills. I paid to go on a tour of the place, I was the only white person as you would expect and centre of attention. The tour was great - I am not joking when I say it consisted of one hallway and 3 rooms! Still the tour only cost about 80p.
There were some major historical artifacts in there though. One was a table where the first draft of the agreement to split India and Pakistan was discussed. The table has a partition running down the middle to symbolise this.
Ghandi also visited the place as did many other Indian leaders.

Apart from that, not been up to much else. Indian TV is good, they show inappropiate movies at all times of the day. I watched 'Don't be a menace.......' at 8am this morning in bed - the lads will appreciate this.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day. My train leave Shimla at 17:40pm and gets into Kalka at 22:20pm. Train from Kalka to Delhi is then 23:45pm - 4:30am, nice. Can't wait for that.
Still, off to Jodhpur, the blue city, on that evening so all good.

Bye for now.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Thought of the day

Homosexuality it not openly accepted in India and there are laws in place to arrest you based on certain acts.

However, as a sign of 'brotherhood', Indian males openly walk down the street holding hands, or with arms around each other.

Surely as long as you do not engage in any PDA (public display of affection), which I am not a fan of, you could easily get away with it?

Reality check

Morning all

Spent my first night in Shimla and it was pretty cold. Had to use 2 blankets - why did I leave my sleeping bag at home?

Got up early this morning to walk up to the Monkey Temple, that was when I got my reality check. I am barely 2000mtrs up and the 'hike' up to the Temple ruined me. The way up was very steep but I am now a little worried about how I will fair in Nepal when I am exceeding 5000mtrs with a 2 stone backpack on!
Still, it will be great fitness work and you know that I am too stubborn not to do it.
However, it is going to be very very cold; again I ask myself, why did I leave my sleeping bag at home?

Monkey Temple was brilliant. The view of the Himalayan range from the top was breathtaking. You have green mountains in the foreground with snowcapped peaks in the far distance. I now really feel like Frodo taking the ring back to Mordor and the path looks daunting!
As you would expect by the name there are a lot of monkeys, and I mean a lot. They also have no fear of man, which is a little unerving.

After having a look around I took out a pencil and drew the temple, the first time I have drawn for 15 yrs.
It wasn't a bad attempt, a few wonky lines, but the crowds loved it. I felt like a right freak show, but everyone was very complimentary of my picture and insisted on taking photos of it. Met a lot of people this morning and it is amazing how shocked they are if you use a couple of basic Hindi words, they love it.

Top 3 moments of my day so far are, in reverse order:
3) A monkey stealing a digital camera of a lad and running off with it

2) A monkey jumping onto a monk's back and stealing his sunglasses and running off with them

1) Seeing the Himalayas proper - something I have wanted to do since I was little

By the way, if you throw a bag of nuts at the monkeys they give the goods back.

Right I am off to move rooms. I dont like where I stayed last night and have gopt a cheaper room which actually looks a lot nicer. When I was looking around at new rooms I was offered one with a baby monkey swinging outside the window on a cable! I didn't take that one as I can see it getting into my room and taking either my camera or sunglasses, and I have no nuts!!!

What is the strangest thing you have seen down a city alleyway at 10pm or on a train platform at 7am?

So this post comes from Shimla, 2200 metres up in the Himalayas. Took 10hrs to get here from Delhi but the views alone are worth it.

Back to yesterday's action.
After waking up quite late I spent lunch and early afternoon at the Red Fort in Delhi. When you come up to it, it totally dominates your view, the ramparts stretch for 2km. Once inside it opens up into expansive gardens and old ruins that seem to go on for an age. I basically took a slow walk in the very hot sun and had a nice curry for lunch. Not much else to say on that accept that on my way there I encountered my first child street beggar. She must have been about 8, very pretty but filthy. She tried to sell my some crappy pens but I had to refuse because she wasn't the only one there and you can't give them all money, plus they were crappy pens.
I wont lie though, it was a very uncomfortable experience, especially when she started kissing my feet! However, I did come here to challenge myself, so I have to expect that I will see a lot more of this.

The rest of the day was taken up at the Commonwealth Games. It was packed out for the last night but fortunately Marion and David (the couple from the first night) had saved me a seat! Turns out that Marion is a bit of a legend. She donated a kidney to her daughter 5yrs ago and has so far raised a further $100k (still can't find the pound sign) for charity. She was pleased to hear that I am on the organ donor list.
I have been invited to stay at their place if I am passing through, but I am not sure if I will have the time yet. We will see.
The Games were good. It was nice to see some English gold medals won.
My top 3 moments from last night are, in reverse order:
3) India Women winning 4 x 400m Gold - in a packed stadium the atmosphere was electric. It was also India's first track gold since the 1950's

2) As David was running back up to his seat after taking a photo of the triple jump he tripped on a step. He used his camera in his left hand to stop himself, which was a good job as that extra inch in height stopped his face smacking into the corner of the step. After a couple of minutes of dusting himself down and fixing his camera I was allowed to laugh

1) After all of the events had finished and there was only a few medal ceremonies left to complete, a street dog somehow got into the stadium. Watching 5 Indian stewards try to chase and catch a dog around the middle of the stadium was great. They got nowhere near for about 5 mins and eventually the dog left of its own accord

On the way home I took the back alleys to my Inn and was faced with a cow! It was just ambling along at 10pm at night, just chilling out. Very surreal.

One thing I have noticed about India is that they are obsessed with white people. Everyone wants to shake your hand and have photos with you - wierd, but sort of like being a celebrity. I find it quite amusing when they just stare.

This morning I made my way up to Shimla. First was a 4.5hr train journey from Delhi to Kalka. The train left at 7:40am, but the highlight was seeing 2 donkeys walking down the platform!!
British Rail could learn a lot from Indian Rail. For my ticket price I got free drinks and breakfast as well as a place to lie down and polite service. Sweet.
Once at Kalka I got the toy train to Shimla. The bad boy took 5.5hrs but as you are climbing all this time through the Himamlayas it is just amazing. It also helps having someone to talk to. I sat opposite a German, Danny, who went to uni in the States so was fluent English. He is spending 3 mths in India to decide what career he will do. One option is to join his dad who has a yacht building business, minimum 20m (euros) per boat - erm, what is the problem?

So Shimla is the most magical place I have yet to visit in my life. High in the mountains it used to be the summer retreat of the British during the time of the Raj. It is all based along one main street which has numerous restaurants and shops - a bit touristy but still beautiful. There are also lots and lots of monkeys. Apparently you cant make eye contact or they will have you!
I am meeting Danny tomorrow for afternoon tea - keeping to my Britsh Raj roots.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Commonwealth Games = attack of the giant insects!


So I have much to update you on since my last post.

Firstly, I forogt to mention an event that took place on the plane journey from England to Dubai. I managed to fall asleep which never happens for me on planes and the out of the 200 or so passengers on baord the stewardess managed to find me and drop her tray of water right on my head as she passed! Quite a shock. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I was soaked. Still, I got some champagne out of it, which was nice, but not at 3am! Thought the lads would like that story.

Back to Delhi.

I have found a new love for Delhi; the reason: they appreciate great hair! That's right, I have been receiving compliments on my do, from blokes, but they all count. I told you all it was good!

First thing in the morning yesterday I was asking for some directions and got taken to the India Tourist Office. Straight away, the sales pitch began. As I had not really seen much of the city I took them up on their offer of a driver for the day to take me around all of the sites, as well as pick up my Games tickets and drop me at the stadium. For $20 (can't find the pound sign) I thought that was a bargain.
Whilst I waited for the driver to come they presented me with a cup of chai (my first in India) even though I had kindly refused one. One smell of it and the film forming on top told me that I wouldn't like it but out of politeness I took a few sips. Yuk. The bloke behind the desk told me it had some sort of relaxant in it and that it was good for me - straight away I was anything but relaxed!
The driver still hadn't showed up when Mustafa (another employee of the Tourist office) came to sit with me. He asks me about my future plans, so I tell him of my proposed route around India, which he tells me are rubbish (of course they are sunshine) and he can suggest the following, to which he writes out an entire day by day plan.

When the driver turns up it transpires I now have only half a day with him and I will be back at the tourist office for the hard sell at approximately 3pm.
As I leave I got a bit of a funny look for leaving my chai, I gave them one back because my politeness had given me a burnt tongue!!

Manuch was my driver, 26, from north India and a nice lad.
First stop was to pick up my tickets - which was painful. To cut it short, after 3 different stops we finally got them.
Next we went to Humayun's tomb. To be honest, my fee for the day was worth this place alone. The tomb was a precursor to the Taj-Mahal and was seriously impressive. The ruins set around it were like something out of the jungle book. I wanted to slip into my red pants and jump around like Mowgli with King Louis. All of the birds of prey swooping down from the air added an aura to it as well.

After that we went to the Lotus temple, named so because it is built in the style of a Lotus flower.
Then, I was set up by my boy Manuch. He was clearly the Pinnochio to the 2 evil Geppetto puppet masters back at the Tourist office. I was taken to a market where you are escorted through one part, sent through a door to another escort and so on. To get out alive I just bought this hand carved elephant for a approx $2 and was told it would bring me luck. Who would've thought it would work immediately?

Next stop was India Gate which was really impressive too. Imagine the Arc de Triumph or Brandenberg Gate but bigger and in a nicer setting. Manuch dropped me off here and told me he was going off for his lunch and would be back on 30-45 mins.
All I thought was, 'this is my chance'. I knew the next stop after India Gate would be 'the hard sell' and I just couldn't be bothered with it all, so I used this stop to make my escape. I sent Manuch a text telling him that I would not be back.
India Gate was really nice. It had a lot of water around it which the Indians were playing in so I took a nice place in the shade and had a rest with my feet in the water - lovely!

Fortunately, India Gate was also relatively near to the stadium for the Games so I took a slow walk down in the late afternoon.
Walking towards the entrance I popped to the loo, I am only telling you this because when you stand next to a soldier with a rifle as big as your leg it is funny how it has the same affect on you as exposing yourself to the freezing cold! I imagine if I was an American it would have the exact opposite affect.

Finally get into the stadium to be told by a lot of men with guns that I cannot take my bag in as it is a security risk. This blog is called '4 words - I am Adam Lambert'. I entered the stadium with my bag, I need say no more.

The athletics was great. I ended up sitting next to a mature (well in their 50's) English couple who now live in India. You could tell they were living a very comfortable life out here. They were really nice and I am meeting them again tonight to watch the final night of athletics. It turns out that the woman used to live on Kennington Rd (that's right Gabs) right next to my old flat and walked the same route to the City as I did. Small small world.
Later on in the evening as it got dark, the insects attacked. They were obviously hanging around floodlights but kept dropping from a great height onto us all. I am not joikng when I say one as big as my hand dropped onto the lap of the bloke in front. He screamed and jumped so high he could have won gold in the pole vault with out any assistance - it was hillarious. Throughout the evening I had about 3 grasshoppers land on me - yes I did jump (well I looked more like MJ pulling a cool move) but no screaming.

My top 3 moments of the Games were as follows - in reverse order:
3) Ladies discus final - a girl from Jersey was obviously at the biggest night of her life. Her 3 throws in the final were: 1) Discus into the net, 2) no throw, 3) Discus into the net. Out! I couldn't help but snigger a little.

2) Men 3000m Steeplechase final - the 3 Kenyan winners began there lap of honour and nearly caught up one of the blokes still trying to finish

1) 10000m final - right in front of us was a table of bottled water for the runners. The 2 Indian stewards obviously did something wrong and the whole lot fell off and rolled around the track. The best bit was that the bottles had no tops on them. Ha ha!

Got the Metro home and got out at New Delhi station. Wow, what a place. It stinks, there is dog muck inside, people (and children) sleeping there, blokes passed out on the roads outide, it is crazy.
Can't wait to try and catch my train on time, from the right platform (there are about 20) at 5:30am tomorrow.

I will let you know how it goes

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Delhi Belly!


So I have arrived in Delhi and I have to say that it is a shock to the senses. It is crazy here, but a sort of organized chaos.
My first day was very eventful as went as follows:
1) Picked up from the airport in what can only be described as a death trap. I got into the rickety van and below the dashboard there was nothing apart from the actual workings of the van. I thought I had better put my seatbelt on only to discover that its life as a seatbelt had ended long ago, instead I was told to hold it over my shoulder so it looked like it was on!
There are no rules on the roads, you just get where you are going - quite good fun actually. On the way I saw wild monkeys and pigs - as you do

2) I arrived at the Smyle Inn which is based in the alleyways of the 'Main Bazaar' and bizarre is quite apt. The area is made up of many tight alleyways that twist and turn everywhere. It is quite an experience sharing them with lots of people and motorbikes too. The place reminds me a lot of the old city in Marrakech.

3) Once checked into my room (loose term) I went for a little walk around the Bazaar. Everybody wants to talk. I have to admit that I am still very wary of it, probably because I have lived in London for so long where nobody speaks to each other.
Firstly, I meet Manzoor from Kashmir who wanted to take me to his place to show me pictures of his home town and the letters he has received from fellow travellers who have stayed at his houseboat! I kindly declined his offer, but more on that later.
Next thing I know I am talking to an Argentine doctor who compliments me on the picture that I took. We have a very nice chat about everything.

4) I take a rickshaw to Connaught Place, which is shopping area with restaurants, cinemas etc, all located around a big green. On the green I am invited to join 4 Indian students and share poppadoms. We talk about everything from football to Indian life etc.

5) It is starting to get dark and I realise that I have no idea where my Inn is. Using my manly geographical senses I walk from Connaught Place to the Main Bazaar and am very proud of myself for finding it. However, once I enter the alleyways it takes me a further 2 hours to find my place!!! Part of the 2 hours was taken up by running back into Manzoor and I actually went to his gaff to view the pics and letters. He tries to sell me a trip to Kashmir and when I refuse he offers me some of Kashmir's finest homegrown. Again I decline as the stuff would probably blow my head off.

6) Finally get back to the wonderful Smyle Inn and go to bed. I then wake up 1 hour later and say hello to my previous mornings breakfast at both exits! Think I am going to loose a lot of weight here.

All in all, a mental first day.
First impressions of Delhi are that I want to get out into the open spaces of the rest of country. It is just a bit too much.

Oh, as different as it is, Friends was still on the TV this morning! Some things never change.