BootsnAll Travel Network

June 29th, 2008 – Delhi, India

I got woken up by Vikash, our trusty tour guide from day 1 at around 450am.  He wanted us up and at em before the train got to delhi, ready to go.  The train wouldn’t be getting to Old Delhi Station probably for another 30 minutes but this is a classic tactic but him and train conductors who typically do the same thing to the passengers in their car.  I woke up, feeling very unsatisfied from the train ride.  I love train rides.  I normally sleep like babies on them, but this time it was not the case.  It was disappointing to say the least.  We rolled in to the station probably 520am or so.  I got all my crap together, and tried hard not to have a repeat performance in Vietnam last year when I forgot my money belt, ran back on the train and had to jump off like I was a stuntman in the movies, rolling several times on the concrete.


It was hot out even for 530am, which was just a precursor for things to come during the day in Delhi.  We all dumped our stuff with Vikash who arranged for porters to take our stuff to the bus.  I left my giant pack, and took my smaller stuff including my backpack with most of my expensive stuff in it.  My big backpack just really has clothing and tolietries, not nearly as important as my hard drive with my photos on it and other electronics I carry.  We were being shuffled by one of the professors who at one point told us to turn left out of the train station.  See there are two entrances at most train stations in India, especially the big ones in Delhi.  Well this professor who seemed so sure at the time, pointed us in the wrong direction!  So we walked all the way to the exit of the station, waited for a while in the heat, tired and hungry because she really didn’t have a clue.  At one point she went off to look for a student who got lost in the shuffle and she ended up in the bus, nice and comfortable with the A/C blasting, are you shitting me?  Eventually Vikash told us we had to go back up the long flight of stairs and over to the other side of the train station.  How ironic that the professors were resting comfortably in the bus while we were sweating, tired and hot.


Once we loaded the bus we headed off to the hotel.  Apparently this hotel was one of the nicest and oldest hotels in all of delhi.  It was spread out on 7 precious acres of land.  7 acres of land for a hotel where there are probably 20 million people crowded as hell in a city like Delhi is real valuable and special.  As we pulled in to the hotel, I think everyone gasped for air.  It was magnificient.  By far the nicest architecture and infrastructure I had seen in India, besides the Taj in Agra and the Taj Mahal itself.  This place was great.  But of course there was a catch, which just highlighted even more so, how the entire trip had been run from start to finish, classic Touro Rag-tag.


The rooms weren’t ready.  Well to be specific none of the student rooms were ready except for Becky and Rachel, but rest assured the professor’s had their rooms, ready to go, again how convenient for them!  I went in to becky and rachel’s room, read for a little bit, then passed out on the floor.  Oh this was after breakfast, in which I felt really naseous.  It turned out I was a little backed up, which was really the first time, making a BM had been a real problem.  After I chugged water, and got the system rebooted, I had some breakfast, then fell asleep on their floor.


After that, I went out to the main lobby and there were a bunch of people trying to plan their day.  We had one full day in Delhi with lots to see and do, but it would be hot, so that was a real consideration to factor in to our plans.  I decided that I wanted to see Gandi’s memorial, called Raj Ghat, the famous Red Fort, and Jama Masjid which is the largest Muslim Mosque in India.  Sarah and I jumped in to a rickshaw who I bargained with in Hindi and headed off for Gandi’s Memorial.  We picked this one first simply because it was the farthest away from the three so we would work our way back to the hotel.


When we got there, it was really basic.  It had some nice gardens and the tomb itself was all black with his name written in hindi, I think.  We snapped some photos, took it in and then left for the next spot, Red fort.  I had to bargain hard for a reasonable rickshaw.  Sarah was a little cranky so eventually I gave in a paid about 10 rupees more than I should have but at 30 rups it was still very reasonable.  As we were getting out of the rickshaw to go to the red fort, I see this really interesting looking temple right in front of this.  I exclaimed to Sarah “let’s check this out.”  It turned out to be Jain Temple.  Jainism is apparently a sect or spinoff of Hinduism.  It seemed like a cult to me, but I just kept saying that to piss Sarah off and it was funny.  When we got there first, there was this guy who took us in to this meditation center in the bottom of the temple.  After that we had to go one by one into the temple itself.  The reason was because they wanted us to leave our bag with this security guard, who was basically some dude just sitting there with a ripped white button down collared shirt who looked a little retarded to me.  I said “hell no,” so another guy suggested we each go separately and I agreed to that.


The temple was really cool, definitely one of the cooler temples I had been too.  They had a lot of g-ds and g-desses.  From the temple we walked across the hectic intersection in Delhi to the Red fort.  It was glorious.  I started to snap away.  I made Sarah take one of me, then I took one of her, and then the guy who we asked to take our picture, got his son in the picture, and I picked him up.  We tried to pick the son up so the guy would get the hint to pan up and get the red fort in the background.  That plan failed, the dude literally got everything except the Red Fort, ahhh go figure.


We took a few more pictures and then got one picture and two copies from a “professional photographer.”  He really wasn’t anything special, but they printed in like 2 minutes.  When we walked over with him to get the prints a cop walked over to him and started talking to him in Hindi, I didn’t know what they were conversing about.  I told Sarah quietly to walk away, and we did.  Once the cop left we went back collected each of our copies of the photo and went on our way.  Sarah did not like her photo, most women don’t.  I looked good in it and was quite satisfied as to how it turned out.


Since it was so hot out, we decided to NOT go in to the Red Fort but just look from the outside.  I was fine with that, its another fort and after Agra Fort it was just a little bigger and better, nothing to really cry over from missing.  Once we left the Red Fort and attempted to walk to Jama Masjid we were swarmed with hawkers and vendors selling all sorts of random crap.  Sarah bought a sikh mustache for her brother and law.  I bought some postcards, and wish I had bought that Sikh mustache, it was hilarious.  We finally gave up since we realized that it was actually farther than we had anticipated.  This is when we met our bicycle rickshaw driver.  I never got his name, but he peddled us in his rickshaw to the temple.  When we got there, we got ripped off and scammed in to paying 200 rupees to take photographs.  I was warned about this from the Indians, but it looked official and was written on the wall.  All I remember Abira saying was if it is written on the wall it is legit.  If it was legit, I probably directly funded terrorism, go me!


We snapped a few photos with the walls of the mosque.  This mosque was built by the same dude who built the Taj Mahal and it was clear, because within the walls of the mosque everything was symetrical, which is this dude’s trademark.  It was getting hotter and hotter and Sarah was getting more cranky.  She wanted to get back so she could rest before her spa appointment at 4pm.  I said I would do my best.  We were running a little behind.  At one point at the mosque these muslim kids came up to me and wanted a photo, I agreed and then they started to get a little physical, joking around with me or making fun of me and got a little physical.  I got a little angry and just said that is enough in Hindi and they got the hint.  My next step was to say “go away” in hindi which is the next level due to how firm you say it and people usually get the hint.


When we left the mosque our same peddler was waiting for us trying to get another fare.  Eventually we gave in to him, I assured Sarah we weren’t that far away, she was skeptical.  I told him to take us to Kashmieri Gate because at the hotel that is what they told me to tell the Rickshaw drivers and they would know where to go.  There was one problem with that plan.  I didn’t know where the hotel was from this metro stop, DOH!  This dude was peddling his heart out in the blazing heat of Delhi.  Sarah was getting agitated after every block.  She felt this was demeaning and she was real tired and wanted to get back quicker.  Eventually I told the peddler to stop and he pulled over near the station.  We paid him his fare and Sarah gave him a generous tip for his efforts.  He was clearly happy about the tip and the total amount of money he got from us.  I thought it was definitely an experience, at least he wasn’t pulling the rickshaw manually and running with it!  Apparently that still happens in parts of India.  We stopped at a familiar sighting “The Golden Arches of Heaven,” or better known as McDonald’s.  Since it was 1250PM we both agreed it was time for lunch.  I definitely needed a dose of western food even though I had been eating heathier as of late and had lost a few pounds nothing crazy.


We got some food and then ice cream fudge sundaes to go.  While Sarah was getting the ice cream I got a rickshaw who insisted he knew where the hotel was.  I gave in to his crazy price for the rickshaw since we both wanted to get back to the hotel and finally get our room!  When we got back, we certainly got our room and it was so nice.  When you walked in there was a huge flat screen samsung HDTV with couches and then a door to our bedroom with a full walk in closet and exquiste bathroom with a marble glass enclosed shower and then a bathtub with that silver tray thing that goes on top to keep your stuff in it.  Very old school, reminds me of the end of the movie Maverick it was just like that (booo that Anti-semite Mel Gibson though).


Anyway the room was great, except for the construction right above us!  It’s like every time I got a little ahead throughout the program, I was shot back down by something.  We both thought to ourselves “did Anne (the coordinator of rooms and logistics of the program, know about this construction and screw us with the room anyway?)  Only G-d would know the answer to that question.  Regardless if it was done on purpose it was still right above our heads and it was loud, and we couldn’t sleep, it was so annoying.  When I got back I relaxed till about 530pm.  I took a shower, watched some soccer on the big screen, smoked a cuban cigar and this was after Sarah left for her appointment.  I was living large.  Nice robe that smelled real nice, air conditioning, cold drink ahhhh.


At around 530PM, I was down in the lobby just trying to move around and saw Arindum.  He asked me if I wanted to play some tennis.  I said sure, I hadn’t done any sort of exercise, minus walking in months.  I went upstairs, laced up the kicks, put on my yanks hat backwards and was ready to go.  Unfortunately my only pair of shorts were my nice jcrew ones, but with how hot it was out even at 530pm, I had no choice.  I had sent back my two mesh sporty shorts since they smelled so bad from Shimla and after they were washed in Dharamsala.  We got down to the courts and there were two young kids playing.  We jumped right in and started playing with them.  Arindum was horrible at first and got better as we played on.  Eventually the short fat kid left and then the better of the two kids was left.  Since I had popped the string on the racquet.  Hit it on the top of the racquet going for a slam, Arindum and I switched off rallying with this 12 year old kid.  He was good, considering and he had a coach which meant that he must have been privileged individual in Delhi, which is fine.  We played for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  By the end of it, Arindum and I were sweating, I was personally covered in sweat from head to toe.  Even my hat was soaked.


When I got back to my room, I relaxed for a while and eventually took a shower.  The plan was to go to this very famous indian restaurant in Delhi that was voted the best restaurant in India not five star.  It was 730pm and Sarah was still not back, she was supposed to be back by 7pm.  I was getting nervous.  When I got in the shower, she arrived and then I took a quick one to rinse off the sweat and dirt from the clay tennis court and then we all went downstairs to try and arrange this dinner.  There were initially 12 of us, and we were all a little frustrated by the lack of mobility of the group.  Since Heidi had to leave that night she didn’t have enough time, so then 5 others joined them.  We were down to 7.  Arindum got us two rickshaws at reasonable prices to this place.  I was in the rickshaw with 4 people which meant I had to sit up front with the driver.


I could barely get my right ass cheek on the seat.  The driver was giving me absolutely no love.  I was basically hanging of the side of the rickshaw, using all my strength and upper arm to hold on for dear life and try to keep my extremites within the rickshaw.  At any moment something could come zooming by and take off a limb.  I was very uncomfortable.  When we arrived at the general location of the restaurant, it was bustling with Muslims and locals.  The restaurant was right near the mosque so it was packed.  I think the girls found the right restaurant and got us a table of 7.  When we walked up stairs, who do we see by the professors, Ann and one of the professor’s wives.  Of course they had gone to this place, why not.  Well we only had to wait a little while before a table opened up. 


At first we left the ordering to Arindum since he been to this place several times and knew what htey were famous for and what was good.  After a little while people started to chime in about what they individuall wanted to order yet share with the group.  So to not be left out of this process I told Arindum I wanted a mutton dish (goat), and got it.  It was damn spicy but so good that Sarah and I decided to split another half order (as well as whoever else wanted some).  By the end of the ordering we had so many dishes it was insane, but the meal would be cheap since we had 7 and nothing was really that expensive.  The meal was hearty to say the least and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Now this wasn’t typical Indian food, but was Mughal food which is spicer and the Mughal’s ruled in India for a long time early on (I’m thinking like 400 years or something, but not sure, I know I have been told when we visited Mughal sites).  Anyway the meal was great, cheap and then it was time to say our goodbyes.  Some of the kiddos were going out for a nightcap drink, but Sarah and I had to wake up at 3am to get ready to head to the airport. 



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