Hi Everyone! I'm sorry it has taken me so long to write anything down, I have to admit I have been a bit daunted by the prospect of writing my first post. What to include, what not to include, deciding what out of the many incredible things I have seen since I have been here will be interesting and you know how indecisive I am! So I've decided not to think too much and just write down things as I go along to give u a few snapshots of my travels…..
The taxi journey….I arrived in Delhi on Wednesday morning, tired and somewhat bewildered but with a steely determination to get to my final resting place - The Gandhi Peace Foundation in New Delhi. There I would meet with Ivan who runs Action Village India (www.actionvillageindia.org.uk), the charity I will be working with over the next six months, and my adventure would begin signs
As advised I headed straight for the pre-paid taxi booth in the airport purchased my ticket and resolutely followed the prepaid taxi signs out of the airport, ignoring the man keenly ushering me in the other direction. Stepping outside clutching hold of my paper ticket I was hit by the dusty midday heat and the sounds of dozen men all trying entice me towards their ramshackle vehicles. I have to admit I was hoping that it would be a bit more evident which taxi I was meant to get into. But then order, as I have quickly discovered, is not the name of the game in Delhi. I decided to hedge my bets and follow the most eager man towards the nearest taxi.
Man: 'Which hotel?'
Me: 'The Gandhi Peace Foundation'
Me: 'The ITO area'
Man: 'Ah ok, your tourist?'
Me: 'Um, yes'
After a rather stilted conversation I got in the taxi confused and a little worried that I wasn't heading to my intended destination but rather some far flung corner of Delhi where over eager and gullible tourists are taken to be cheated out of every penny in their money belts and ritualistically laughed at before being offered up to a many-headed God worshipped by opportunistic taxi drivers. I think I was a little anxious.
I decided to concentrate on my most optimistic thoughts and take in the passing surroundings. Traffic, horns, dust, a mum and her baby being driven side-saddle on the back of a rickety moped, horses being whipped along the roadside, a man in a turban relieving himself against the pillar of a road bridge, a man selling luminous plastic stars through car windows, a brother and sister, no older than four, begging for food from western car passengers (I wish I'd had something more nutritious than my pack of spearmint wrigleys to give away). This was it, I was in India, the reality suddenly hit me, quickly followed by relief at seeing the dazzling white sign of the Gandhi Peace Foundation on the other side of the road.
The tip was my next challenge. The taxi had cost 280 r/s and I know my driver was trying in his best English to be a good host-come-tour guide - 'Gandhi statue….big mosque….you like 20-20 cricket? - I had 80 r/s left in my purse without delving into the wad of notes I had changed that were sitting at the bottom of my bag. I thought this would be enough. He wanted more but I apologised and walked away feeling really guilty - he wasn't asking for much.
Five minutes later he was back. When I had handed him my notebook with the address of the foundation in earlier a postcard had dropped out. He had brought it back. He wanted more money. I gave him 100 r/s (feeling slightly embarrassed I didn't give him this the first time round). He still wanted more money as he'd gone so out of his way. I had nothing smaller than another 100 bill. I gave him this and he left. The tip in the end was the same cost as the taxi. Frankly I think he had sensed my western uncertainty and ingrained Catholic guilt complex but I couldn't feel annoyed, it cost just £8 in total and at least I had arrived in one piece and was not at the whim of the many-headed taxi god! (Before you ask I'm not taking Larium, I have quite an overactive imagination when I'm tired!)
I finally flopped down in my room feeling exhausted, relieved, a serene portrait of Gandhi staring down at me from the wall above. I had made it to India.