The last post was just a little rambly, wasn't it? Sorry about that. Hope it kind of made sense, but risking repeating a tad, here's the bits I missed out (plus I have time to kill thanks to banks being twats, etc!) -
In Narita (airport in Tokyo) I succeeded in getting first in line to claim my bulkhead ticket - which I did in advance last year but couldn't do this year as they had changed their policy. Got told Air India only gave MALE passengers emergency exit seats. Like, WTF??? Anyhoo, got a whole row of bulkhead to myself which was lovely - and they had backseat televisions (unlike last year) showing movies in English (again, unlike last year). No problems at all - apart from the little shits who kept running in front of my seat continually at around the 7 hour of confinement stage. After their 30s rotation, I told them it was bothering me and please stop. After their 35th rotation I got a little angrier and they finally pissed off.
Getting to Delhi Airport I was very surprised to find it so different from Mumbai last year. Mumbai airport last winter consisted of a terminal building that was half reconstructed and hundreds of people waiting for their friends, taxi drivers, hawkers, etc. Chaos. Except I was met by Sanchia and her father, so it didn't really matter then.
I expected that level of chaos this year and found it to be an oasis of calmness. Seriously. It was all very very civilized and ordered. I'd arranged for the airport to meet me (did I post this below already? Can't remember, didn't check) and the airport guy said his tuk-tuk had broken down so we were taking a pre-paid cab. The streets around the airport were dead. As always happens when I leave Japan, I go into a state of wowness over seeing signs everywhere written in English. Either you know what I mean, or you don't. But it gets me every time. I'm just so NOT used to seeing English signs.
I stayed in a nice enough hotel in Parhar Ganj. Enough said if you know the area. A good choice of area for me to stay in anyway. Slightly mad, rather tatty and extremely convenient. As we got nearer the taxi driver suddenly got into a fight with a bloke on the streets. Voices got louder and louder and angrier and angrier. My taxi driver got out of his cab and stood face to face with this bloke shouting. And then got back into his cab and they continued shouting. Meanwhile, we were blocking the traffic and pissing off drivers behind who were bashing on the back of the cab. A crowd gathered around the front of the cab. The hotel bloke said nothing. I sat frozen in fear. Were they going to kill my driver? Beat him senseless (read Shantaram last year). Beat ME senseless? Like what the fuck was going on? After what seemed an age, we carried onto the hotel and the hotel guy told me the taxi driver had hit the foot of the guy and that one of them (not sure which) was a crazy man.
Welcome to Delhi.
Delhi didn't surprise me. It had it's moments and I stayed four nights doing as much exploring in that time as was humanly possible, all things considered - namely adjusting my body clock and coping with the Delhi weather - first day, lovely, subsequent days, cold and scattered wetness!
I found the tourist sites were well worth going to. From the sheer size of the Red Fort to the green parrots I spotted in Lodi Gardens (yes, I'm sad to say I got very excited by seeing wild green parrots!), and the insane structures jutting into the sky at Jantar Mantar, I found endless things to captivate, astonish and amuse me.
I loved the crumbling buildings and the statues everywhere, the mad noisy squirrel things, the chai sellers...
One afternoon I decided to go to Tibet House to learn a bit of history from the museum. It was closed because the museum person was off sick, but the guard agreed to try and find someone else to open it. I was so happy... until I got into the museum and saw a few old rocks and bits, lots of tapestries and NO information about Tibet! - and it was the only Delhi museum I'd chosen to go to see. I'd seen a couple of smaller ones that were part of other sites but didn't go out of my way to visit any.
So, what didn't I like? The noise. The intensity. The constant beeping of traffic horns and shouting of people. The constant demands of people wanting me to buy from them, give them money, see their shop, go in their tuk-tuk, etc and what felt like a constant stream of people who chose to walk alongside me and wanted to talk ('where you from?' 'when you come india?' 'where you go now?' ad nauseum) when ALL I wanted to do was observe, notice, soak in, contemplate...
And the constant auto-rickshaw drivers attempts to charge me way over the odds.
The dirt, the trash, the piss smells.... that I can put up with. Just play fair and leave me alone!