Namaste! Welcome to 'blog a clock' a time of the day where Kell and myself are quiet and can reflect on our day, telling you at home all the best bits! I will mention this time of day wasn't always quiet.. With me peering over Kelly's shoulder "assisting" her with my witty input (something similar to someone telling you your next move in solitaire.. Soothing right?!) ! She kindly and not so subtlety directed me to this blogging site and here I am! Attempting my first entry..
Finally found a blog that is quick to upload so here is a few days worth!
..Imagine peak hour in melbourne, get rid of the road markings and speed limits, times it by a thousand and youre in Delhi. We had arrived after 17 hours of travel, made our way through customs (one man waiting for you to hand him a piece of paper stating anything your declaring, which he doesn't read anyway.. Intense!) and found our way to the taxis, we had ignored the howling (and I mean that quite literally!) that the young indian boys threw in our direction, dodge the stares and whispering comments and found our way into a taxi. The driver had agreed to take us to our hotel room for 500rs (about $9.00 aus for a half hour trip) and the air con was pumping. So far so good.. We had no idea what was about to hit us. I think my description of Delhi traffic doesn't do it justice.. Simply put, there is no rules! To drive in Delhi you only need one thing.. A horn! And Not just for a "you cut me off di#kh*%d!" or " go the lights green!" but as a "I'm gonna squeeze in between you guys, there is no room, im not in a lane but move over" or " I'm going to go around this round about now without indicating or even looking to my right, stop or smash into me" and finally it
Can be used in situations like "i can see you and your children walking down the street but move or I will run you over".. There is no road rage, majority are friendly toots! The kind that you'd use saying goodbye from a friends house, or when you drive past someone you know. The traffic moves and strangely without any rules everyone knows where they are going.
In the taxi I caught myself with my jaw almost touching the ground, the lack of rules completely shocked me, I lifted up my jaw and looked out the window to my right, the man next to me had one hand on his horn and the other tapping along to a song.. Complete comfort in the chaos.. Which is something I was about to learn I would need to find in this amazing country.
Finding comfort did not come naturally to me the first day. Culture shock hit me, and it began with a "travel agent" meeting us at the taxi and ensuring us he would help us find our hotel.. This is a classic scam that we had been warned of, so luckily we stood our ground until a man Bill met us and took us to the hotel. For some reason (that we were too tired to ask at the time) we were moved to Another hotel, but it had a bed, a bathroom and we weren't paying extra so it would do! The street we are on is it's own little world. It is packed with hotels, travel agents, tuc tucs, wild dogs, people everywhere! There is no concept of personal space, and If there is space there is space for all!
After climbing the 1000
Stairs we arrived at our room. I was ready to close the door, lock it and book the next flight to Goa beach. Everything is fast, and loud, and colorful. Everyone sees tourist an opportunity to make money, and there isn't the level of respect we are used to at home as a female. But luckily, India is addictive, it gets
Under your skin. You want to be a part of the chaos. You quickly learn to dodge taxis, and tuc tucs, to not make too much eye contact or someone will try to sell you something, and to say "NO".
You learn to challenge the prices (sometimes unnecessarily, water is 20rs, there is no need to challenge.. I have had a few issues changing the currency in my mind ..20 DOLLARS for a bottle of water seemed ridiculous, turns out I was ridiculous! Haha) and you learn to be in the moment, because if youre not in the moment you will most
Likely be run over.
After a much needed shower, (the shower is a normal shower, its just warm if your lucky) we had a nap and then woke up about 6pm (around 1130pm Aus time) and met Bill in his office. The office makes your eyes water with the smokeyness. Bill calls for chai and a young man arrives with 3 hot Indian chais..nothing like we have at home but delicious all the same! We write up a plan of our trip, Bill writes down prices, his ideas etc and we ask to think about it. It's hard to trust people when everyone is ripping you off. Bill then gets one of his employees to escort us to dinner. I am almost clinging to this boy (I will call him Ash as I always forget his full indian name! Starts with ash tho!) like a life vest, at this stage I'm still finding my indian legs and am terrified. We arrive at a small restaurant and Ash suggests what to order. The food here is amazing. Not like the Indian take away we have at home. Every meal is big and hearty! (Kell and I only need 2 meals a day!) After eating our meal and finishing my Introduction to lassi (a yogurty drink, it can be sweet or salty, or fruit flavored) we head back to our room for some much needed sleep on our 2cm thick mattress.
We had made it through our first hours in india, and despite having the doors locked and a chair up against the door we were settling in.
We woke at 2am, (730 am aus time) confused to the time as our phones were dead we decided to just wait for the call we had ordered to wake us at 8am. We showered, dressed in our attempt not to look so touristy, and head off down stairs. We are greeted by 5 men who all jump to there feet, heads bobbling, wishing us a good morning. We head over the street which is quieter at this time. Everyone is cleaning, sweeping the street.. This place needs more then a sweep but as Kell said if they didn't clean up they would be buried in rubbish in a week.. There is over 15 million people in Delhi alone.
After withdrawing money from the ATM we walk
Back accross the street, a man pours us a chai from a pot he is carrying 8rs each.. We only have 500rs notes so the man scurries off to find change while we watch his pot. He returns, hands us the change and gives himself a tip for the effort. We don't worry that he has ripped us off around 40rs, it is such a small amount to us in aus $ and when you see the poverty you are almost glad they took extra. Plus the chai is worth every cent.
We lasted 10 minutes on the street. Without a local with us everyone is offering tuc tucs, tours, more chai.. It is too much to deal with before breakfast so we head back to our hotel for some food. The hotel restaurant is a table on the roof, with a kitchenette in the corner. We go
For the safe option of toast with jam and another chai. We ate it despite it being like jam donut jam and headed downstairs to meet our driver.
Bill had an organized atour of delhi, with a driver and tour guide. We met the driver and ash down stairs. More head bobbling as he opened the car door for us. The drive was eye opening. We had seen briefly some of the poverty on our drive from the airport but not to the extent we were about to experience. Children begging, performing tricks, dressed up as clowns, holding babies all banging on the windows asking for money. It is almost impossible to ignore them when you have 3 sets of big, brown, sad eyes looking at you. Reminding yourself of the scams can help but As a human there would be something wrong if you didn't naturally want to help these people. It is not like the homelessness we see in Australia, it's villages of people living in tents (built out of old plastic etc) using the side walks for toilets, hungry, dirty kids and babies with no nappies. no one would be allowed to Live like this in Australia, and no one should..
On to happier things! Our first stop was was Humayuns Tomb the detail in the buildings is incredible, I can't even imagine the work that would have gone into it. We then drove to the lotus temple.It is open to all religions, and is used for silent prayer, and yep it looks like a lotus! I just prayed to whoever was listening that my shoes would still be outside when I got back. Then we went to qutab minar another religious building, the tower stands at 73m
and again the detail is amazing.. This is also where we had our first experience as celebraties. Over here our light hair and skin attracts a lot of attention.. We had people asking to take photos with us, some sneakily taking photos of us, and some openly taking photos of us. It became halirious after a while, but what can you say.. I'm flattered to be a part of so many family photos.
Next stop was a textile shop
Which is owned by the government. Which means the workers are receiving a wage and have no need to overprice items and they have to be honest with the quality. The clothing is beautiful. The fabrics are bright and detailed and choice is endless. We had a traditional ladies suit (dress and pants) fitted and after a quick fashion show wearing a sari which was an experience in itself,it was off again. We tried to leave the shop
But were "convinced" to go upstairs to another shop. Sometimes it's easier just to agree then to swim against the tide of convincers. Homewares and jewels.
Credit to the sales man he gave it a good shot. 2 tired girls that don't like 'bling bling' was a tough crowd.
Lunch time! Ash took us to a nice restaurant that had Indian and western options, we had a himilayian kofta, rice and garlic narnn. I ate what i thought was green capsicum, turns out it was a green chilli and I will probably never have full feeling in my mouth again. In the restaurant there was a family sitting behind us. The son who would have been around 16 was sitting with his arm around his dad. The affection between males is very normal
Here, we often see men holding hands walking down the street. Just a Bromance. There is no affection between man and woman and definitely not between same sex couples, me and Kell are getting used to being public pals but I will never take for granted the freedom I have at home. Last stop was a temple in Delhi , we found another small shop here and bought 2 pairs of pants 400rs for both ($3.50 ea) bargain!
Day one was nearly over, We
Stopped by to see bill who
Had organized a flight to Goa for us on the 23rd. We opted to fly as we would be using trains later on in the journey and time is already going so
Quickly we couldn't really afford the 29 hours it would take by train.
Back to the room for the night as it
Becomes unsafe after a certain time.
At lunch Ash said "no two things are ever the same" that pretty much sums up the first day in Delhi. Nothing here is the same as anything I have experienced. Everything is different and I'm sure tomorrow will be different again.
Hello from Delhi airport! after 2 full on days exploring the crazy city we are back in the airport waiting for our flight to Goa.
Our taxi was booked for 1030am but arrived at 830am , convenient timing to drop his brother to work on the way.. You don't worry about these things in India!
In Delhi, nothing is free, people will offer you a trolley for your luggage, you will be surprised with the thoughtful hospitality and once it is in the airport you are asked for 150rs. Our packs were heavy I spose!
I think our time in delhi has prepared us mentally and physically for the rest of our trip. The fast pace of the city makes Melbourne look like a stroll in the park and teaches you very quickly to pay attention. Everything moves fast.. But at the same time it seems like a lot of people are doing nothing. There is no structure to a day like in Melbourne with working 9-5 and weekends off, one day just seems to lead onto the next!
Our last day in Delhi was action packed, again we had a driver for the day but we decided to brave it ourselves and walk to our favorite place for breakfast. Festas (where we had dinner our first night) Indian breakfast was an omelette type thing with bread in the middle (delicious) some curd, a sweet lassi and another bread that I cannot remember the name! Was an interesting way to start the day but very tasty. Before our meals arrived we felt grumbles in our stomach. And not of the hungry variety..we planned to head back to our room before going the travel agent.. We have learnt to always know where the toilets are because when you have to go, you have to go! Poor Kell is copping it a little, her stomach has been a bit upset.. She is now jumping on my lassi wagon which is full of probiotics and good for upset Guts.
Lassi is my favorite drink these days, I will have to find it in Melbourne.
First stop was the 'swaminarayan akshardham' . The main attraction is the Akshardham midri which is made of pink stone and white marble, built with no steel and has around 20, 000 sculpted figures. In the Centre is gold plated murti of Bhagwan swaminarayan. Its annoying no cameras are allowed in there because no words can do it justice, maybe google it to get some idea of the beauty of it. It has been my favorite place in Delhi.
We then went to the redfort which is huge! We sat for a while in the shade and watch people position themselves in front of us to have there photo taken. I think they think we don't realize so we pretend we don't. After the red fort we went to the national modern art gallery. By this time it was hot! And we were ready for some food and a shower! We went back to the travel agent to pick up our tickets and then had lunch/dinner with ash. Bill was finishing some bookings so after dinner back to the office (this is all on one street) as we sit down chai is delivered. It always just shows up, kind of what I imagine heaven to be like.
After chai it is back to the room to freshen up then ash planned to take us to an Indian movie. as we were walking down the street ash point to a cinema and explains how dirty it is and full of rats! We look at each other and already know there is no way we will be going. We wait a while then send a message saying we won't be attending the movie but we wil pay for the tickets, bill says he is down stairs the hotel with the adapter and the tickets have already been booked.. See people just show up! So we walk down stairs, still with full
Intent of not going. When we explain to bill about the rats he just starts laughing.. Turns out wrong cinema.
Sense of humors is one thing all humans have in common. The other night I was walking down the street and a boy flung his head out of the tuc tuc, fair to say I nearly pooed my pants (not literally.. I feel the need to clarify) but it was nice that we could both laugh at me.
The movie was an experience. Popcorn is the same, but you get chair service at the Interval. The movie was easy to follow at the start despite having no English but by the end I had no idea (maybe because my eyes kept shutting) the movies are like the country full of color, noise and chai.
After the movie it was back in the taxi to head back to our room
And enjoy our 2 cm thick mattress for one last night.
Hike and a half to Goa!
We arrived finally after 2 planes, 2 taxis and one bending road. We had trusted bill to book us a driver and accommodation for our first night as we would be arriving in the dark. Thank god it was only one night. Bill had said a beach hut on stilts, we had pictured exotic beaches, comfortable hut (at least a safe hut would have done!) The hut had a hole in the roof, a toilet that shot water out sideways with every flush and the whole thing looked to be made of ply wood. We were scared to laugh but if we didn't laugh we would have cried.
Woke up nice and early the next day (today) and went on our hunt for a better hut. Our lonely planet book (our bible) came through with the goods and after inspecting a few huts we found our home for the week. It's actually not roughing it at all but with one week before 2 weeks of volunteering we thought why not and plus we're on holidays! The food is good and it's not curry thank God! Yesterday we spent the day looking for plain food, even chips had indian spices on them so we didnt eat.. We miss vegemite already!
We have spent the day shopping at local stalls in the street. Everything is so cheap we have to keep reminding ourselves we need to carry everything around. People make you promise them you'll go back to there shop and they do remember you.. Excellent sales people!
In the stalls babies will sleep hanging on a sack type thing from the roof, we had to ask if the baby was real, it didn't seem safe!
We came back to where we're staying for some lunch and then head to the beach. There is flags like we have for safety but also for a ladies only section. Rules on covering up don't apply as much here although you do see ladies still swimming in saris. I don't know how! I struggled walking in the thing. Goa is very Portuguese and very laid back. Catholic/Christian religion is a lot more common here whereas Hindu and Muslim dominate Delhi.
We stopped at another shop on the beach and heard a British man tell the store owner he would not be back and she had lost herself 1000rps because she wouldn't barter down 50rps. I felt like reminding him of the currency difference but what's the point! I didn't haggle to much with Lillian and Jack (the store owner and her husband) even though I had seen the pants for sale cheaper I thought id give her a break. Getting the products they sell is a big effort, they come to goa only for the season (around 8 months of the year) and have to catch buses and trains to buy everything. Me spending an extra $2 is nothing but it means a lot to them.
We had dinner at a Spanish tapas place on the beach. It was fresh and clean and yum! Couple of kingfishers (there best selling beer) and its back to our hut. Big day in the sunshine and ready for the luxury of a king bed! (kells already snoozing!) I love Goa!
A quieter day here in goa today. Kells still not 100%. Luckily we have our personal pharmacy in our packs with some tablets for her sick guts. She's soildering on though!
I was so excited to see a banana at breakfast Kell doesn't trust anything so ate bread haha! After breaky we had a swim, the water is so warm.. Almost too warm. In Australia if the water is that warm you look accusingly at the people around you and swim the other way. You can't see the bottom so you just had to hope for the best!
Kell hates the wild dogs that are around. One decided our beach towels were a good spot to hang out, Kell took off to the water, I just sat back and watched as the dog followed her. Her reaction was gold. Another friendly one came with a collar and sat next to me.. Some you wouldn't pat (skin infections) but most with collars are ok. Kells disagrees!
After a laze on the beach we decided to have a rest out of the sun. Really cruisey here, loving it. We have 5 more days until we head off for volunteer program will blog again there! X