Hardcore Delhi Day
Today was the day James and I were to be reunited with our boys at SBT and M&D were going to meet some of the boys for the first time. I knew Dad was feeling apprehensive about going to the shelter home but when we saw them in the morning he was in such a good mood and in fits of laughter. Mum wasn't laughing so hysterically so I knew straight away it would be something stupid! When he finally caught his breath and could talk all was revealed. It was the complimentary comb given to us in the rooms. The writing on the comb sheaf said 'For your combing pleasure'. It was quite amusing I must admit but Dad found it hilarious and laughed about it for the next two weeks!
We had a nice breakfast at Basil's and then ordered two tuk tuks to take us to the metro station, for today was 'Hardcore Delhi' day. Only one tuk tuk showed up, but this was apt for the theme of the day and the Mansfield's crammed in the back and James got friendly with the driver. The driver drove straight past the metro station and we had to back track a few hundred metres to get to the entrance. I was pleased that this had happened with M&D as this is a common occurrence with drivers in India, they always, always know where they are going and then as soon as you are sitting down and on the move they suddenly have no idea where you want to go!
The metro is clean, efficient and comfortable… for the women. Mum and I went straight to the women only carriage for some space and peace. The only issue in the women's section is getting off and onto the train at busy stations when all manners are tossed aside and you push your way out. Mum immediately spotted a ramming shield in the form of an elderly large lady who had muscled her way into a seat where there clearly wasn't any room. As we left at one of the busiest interchanges in Delhi Mum stuck herself behind the ramming woman and we escaped unscathed. The men, however, have a different perception of the Delhi Metro. They are constantly fighting for some floor space to stand, getting pushed and squashed in different directions and getting on and off at the stations is a riot like affair. Mum and I found the men's misery so amusing especially when we could just spot Dad and James' white heads bobbing above the packed crowds!
12 stops, 2 changes and a walk alongside a highway full of cows we were finally back at DMRC, the boy's shelter home. A lot of the boys were familiar but there were a few unknown faces and boys we had known well during our time here that were reunited with their families. Roshan, cricket boy and the boys from squash were all pleased to see us and M&D got accosted immediately by boys wanting to hold their hands and introduce themselves. We were sitting waiting for Suchi Ma'am when a very familiar and smiling face came running over, it was Sunny. He was delighted to see us and on top form the whole morning. It made such a change to see him looking so happy and positive, so different from the first time we met him. Vishal had forgotten he was moody with us and gave us both big cuddles. Nadeem was the same, happy and constantly drawing or talking about his beloved metro. Sadly, to begin with Yogesh seemed distant a bit ill and generally withdrawn. Throughout the morning he came out of his shell again and I saw that beautiful smile that I love so much. Mum was drawn to him as well and if there was an adoption scheme for the boys Yogesh would for sure be back in England now! I found it heart breaking when Yogesh and Sunny kept asking 'class, class?' and had to explain to them that we wouldn't be back, not even tomorrow. I tested them to see if they remembered any of the English we had taught them and they did so well. They even knew when Vishal started to answer the questions for them, that this was wrong and told him off! M&D had bought lots of bits and pieces over for the whole shelter and Suchi kindly let us give special toys and colouring books to the boys we worked with. They were so adorable and pleased with their gifts and it was humbling that the only thing they asked for was 'class' not chocolate or pens or ice cream but to have more time with us and some much needed education.
Roshan was as lovely as ever and really demonstrates the sort of characters SBT can create and he charmed M&D as he did us (and Elle!). James gave him some chocolates and he shared them with his friends and then gave us all a handmade Christmas card. M&D sponsored cricket boy as long as he promised to get them tickets when he played for India. We mainly sat with the boys doing their favourite activity 'colouring', M&D got shown around the building by almost every boy and then our boys showed them outside, they are all so proud of the shelter. Dad managed to avoid eating with the boys, despite their constant insistence and Mum and I danced on the roof top to some Bollywood tunes much to all the boys delight! It was tough saying goodbye for the last time but I know at SBT these boys are well looked after and will do well as they grow into young men.
Continuing the hardcore theme of the day it was onwards to Chandni Chowk, the crazy main street into the heart of Old Delhi. Getting out of the metro station is an interesting walk in itself and then you are chucked into the craziness immediately as you step out onto the road. The guide books recommend Chandni Chowk for shopping, but apart from spices I am not sure what you would possibly purchase, as a tourist along this street. We got a coffee along the way to the Red Fort and sat outside in our Christmas Jumpers with some English biscuits, admiring the grand architecture. We couldn't relax for long because the itinerary clearly states a visit to the biggest mosque in India; Jama Masjid. The itinerary did not state that we were to be barred from the mosque, which can hold over 25,000 people but apparently not us four! The scheming guys at the front tried to get Mum and I in a burqa like dresses and then charge us for the rent, we knew we didn't have to do this so refused. We also knew it was free to enter but you had to pay a camera fee. We said we didn't have cameras and were getting frustrated as we knew this guy would not give up his little con so James walked in. The very rude man grabbed James and then searched our bags for cameras and phones. In the end after a bit of argy bargy we didn't want to go in and I felt let down by India because of this awful man, he was not representing the masses in a great light. There are four different entrances to the Jama Masjid so we thought we would attempt to enter via another gateway. It turns out we weren't allowed in full stop, it was prayer time. So this guy made us even madder, he was trying to con us and we wouldn't have been allowed in anyway!
Mum and James got an auto together to CP and apparently had a crazy ride with their driver including a few pavement rides. Our auto driver was the only one we have met in India who immediately said he would use the meter, no bartering, no conning and calm driving; it was a lovely relief from the guy at the mosque. We ate at Basil's for tea, just some snacks and then off to bed feeling relieved that M&D had survived their first full day in India