Life in the main bazaar
When you stay in one place for a prolonged period of time things that seemed so alien on arrival soon become the norm. I have mentioned some of our favourite restaurants along the Main Bazaar but thought, as we were here for over a month I would write in more detail about some of the people and places that are familiar to us now.
Smyle Inn is our home away from home in New Delhi. We get reasonably reliable internet, air conditioning, when it doesn't freeze, hot water and a TV. The manager gave us a great deal as we are staying for a long time and he also offered to sponsor some of the athletes at SBT. The men at reception got to know us quickly and I practised my basic Hindi with them, much to their amusement! When we were too tired to contend with the manic Main Bazaar street we got the convenient room service from Smyle's café. When we were leaving Anil, the main receptionist asked if we were sad to leave and I told him we were back two more times but after that I will be sad! The other men kept repeating, 'you stay for a long time'. We gave them great reviews on tripadvisor and hostel bookers and look forward to seeing them again when we're back in Delhi.
Our favourite shop for drinks and snacks is located almost opposite Smyle. The owner is friendly and always asks 'anything else?' He knew what drinks we liked and always made sure they were in the fridge for us when we got back from a hard day at SBT! His friends made us laugh when they saw us coming as they tried to get us into the shop, probably for some commission. We just waved them aside and the owner knew to charge us the normal price, we were such regulars.
We also became regulars at the photocopying shop where we used up a lot of the workers time by photocopying a lot of worksheets for our class and James printed Roshan's athletic training program.
On our daily commute from Smyle to SBT and back we began to hear the same requests and questions at key points along the sway. I will describe the sounds, sights and smells in chronological order.
1. Smell-at the end of our alleyway we had to hold our breath as we speed walked past the urinals
2. Sound-Auto drivers just waiting for tourists 'Auto, Connaught place' and sometimes 'the metro is shut today'
3. Sight-Our fat, slobby shop owner normally devouring food with half of it still in his mouth as he gave us our water for the day.
4. Sight/sound-the busy intersection just before metropolis restaurant
5. Sight-Fruit sellers, stray dogs and the woman from Bangladesh insisting we sign her piece of paper 'no money, no money'
6. Sound-rickshaw drivers offering us a lift when we are 2 seconds from the metro!
7. Smell-More pissy smells as we enter the metro
8. Sight-the hustle and bustle of thousands of people on their way to somewhere at Rajiv Chowk
9. Smell- the sweaty scent of a lot of people all crammed into a carriage
10. Sound- of James exclaiming 'why don't they just wait for the next train? It's only a minute away'
11. Sight- my favourite DMRC worker, a lady who grabs and pulls out any man who dares enter the women's only carriage
12. Sight-watching James being pushed and shoved as he tries to get onto the red line at Kashmere gate.
13. Smell- as we walk towards the shelter home the familiar smell of piss along the walkway
14. Sight-a barber giving men a cut throat shave by the side of the road.
And for the return journey..
15. Smell- Our mango ice creams we treat ourselves too at the end of the day.
16. Sound-Ellie talking to her friend at the shop where she buys her chocolate!
17. Sound-Rickshaw drivers calling to us for a ride as we get off the metro
18. Sound- 'Cigarettes? You want to buy cigarettes?'
19. Sound- 'Money Chaaaange?'
20. Sound- 'Henna, Ma'am do you want henna?'
21. Sound- 'Hello England, how are you?' a man we met in the first week always shouts the same thing and waves frantically when we respond!
22. Sound- James saying hello to his friend at the leather shop
So now you know how interesting our commute was and we will never forget it!
Since arriving we have managed to loosely participate in the numerous festivals that seem to take place on a weekly basis. I have written about the kite flying on Independence Day, which we enjoyed on our first day in Delhi. On our second day at SBT it was the brother and sister festival and the children gave each other and James (I was ill and off that day) bracelets. A few days later it was Hare Krishna's Birthday so there was a procession along Main Bazaar with Hindu Gods on floats, marching bands, guardsman on horse and people giving out free sweets and ice cream. In the second week there was a lull with no festivals but the third week we arrived at SBT on Thursday and all the boys were making cards in the hall. It was Teacher Day and they were making cards for the teachers, we also saw that on this day teachers got special discounts in certain shops, this should definitely be introduced in England! On our last day volunteering we went to Kathmandu restaurant to book a bus and there was a big stage being set up. We asked our waiter friend what it was for and he just replied it was for a festival! Hinduism has so many Gods that people only celebrate when it is their favourite Gods festival, if they celebrated every God they wouldn't get anything done! When we went out in the evening there was music blaring from the stage and fireworks being lit on the street. James and I had to sprint past as a man started to light more fireworks. I am sure there will be many more festivals for us to enjoy or avoid in the months to come.