I fully intended to get the Metro to Paharganj from the airport. I strode purposefully towards it, following the signs as a bloke fell into pace with me and asked me if I wanted a taxi. I declined, for I, sir, was catching the Metro! He asked me where I was going. Central? Did I know how much I was going to pay? I didn’t know, he said it’d be about ₹200 and he would drop me at the very door of Hotel Namaskar for the same price. I was also really fucking shattered so I figured I would go with it. Worst case scenario, I’d get him to drop me at the station and I’d find my own way. Turns out it wasn’t him doing the driving. He put me in a taxi with a bloke whose English wasn’t great but that’s okay, I showed him the address and off we went, weaving in and out of traffic as appears to be the standard highway code here.
There are no concept of lanes despite them being painted on the road and everyone just substitutes actual braking for repeatedly hitting their horn. I reached for my seatbelt and buckled up as the driver told me that people in the back didn’t have to wear belts, just the people in the front. No no, you’re alright, mate. I’ll make use of this one. Just as I was wondering how no one hit anyone else, another car tried to occupy the same space as ours. I heard the slight thud. It wasn’t too bad. The other guy’s car had a bit of a ding on it but I’ve no idea about my guy’s car because he just carried on going.
Aaaaand this is where it began. He pulled over to ask for directions to my hotel and when he came back to the car he asked me what block it was. I didn’t know. I just asked him to drop me at the Main Bazaar and I’d walk and he was like, “It is a 9 or 10km area.” I was pretty sure it wasn’t but still, he took me to a tourist office where he tried to get me to go in with an English speaking guy to call the hotel. I was like, nah. Just take me to New Delhi station. He tried to tell me there were three but I jabbed at a map and broke out the “bartender chastising a pissed up customer who’s dancing on the tables with a bottle of wine in one hand and their underwear in the other whilst singing Don’t Stop Me Now” voice and told him exactly where I wanted dropping.
Off we went again until we came to a place with yellow police barriers where he told me the road was closed for Eid. Riiiiight. It didn’t look very closed buuut back we went again to the tourist office where I went in, showed the guy my hotel and told him in no uncertain terms that this is where I wanted to go. This place. Right here. And if they couldn’t take me there then take me as close as possible. Actually, I told him my boyfriend was staying there and he’d be waiting for me and you have no fucking idea how weird that sounds coming out of a Gold Star lesbian’s mouth, but that sorted it and I was dropped in the Main Bazaar where enough wandering around looking lost eventually got me correct directions to my hotel from a bloke who had non interest in offering me a taxi or taking me to a tourist office. Phew!
So my hotel is lovely. The blokes that run it are proper friendly and are on hand with genuine help and advice and bottles of water that you can just charge to your room and pay at the end. My room has no windows and is painted a fetching shade of pink but guys, I have a double bed and my own fucking shower for ₹400 a night. Boom! I’ve even got a Western toilet. No bog roll, obvs, and given that it’s probably a terrible idea to put bog roll down the toilet here I’m gonna try it the Indian way for a while. You’re provided with a cup which you fill with water and trickle over your bits whilst giving it a good ol’ clean with your left hand. It doesn’t appear to matter that your arse is soaking wet as a result because after an hour of wandering round in this humidity you’re pretty much soaked through anyway. Thank fuck it’s not a squat toilet though. My legs still haven’t forgiven me for carrying my backpack up two flights of stairs to my room.
So I basically spent the afternoon wandering around Delhi like a total India noob whilst walking very far and managing to see fuck all. I was befriended by several men with words of advice (usually about the best tourist information centres to go to) and was pointed in the direction of about a hundred markets which I’ll do at some point, I promise, I’m just not a huge fan of markets at the best of times. It doesn’t smell as bad as I expected though and there are no more rough sleepers than there are in Brighton. But in other news, I still haven’t seen any cows wandering aimlessly, I have thus far managed to not maul any random stray dogs and I am quietly confident that I will meet my somewhat messy doom on the roads of Delhi. I would like to advise my loved ones that my remains will probably be available for viewing at various to-be-determined locations around Connaught Place.
I also probably paid totally over the odds for an auto-rickshaw because my feet hurt and I was asked to name my price so I blurted out “₹100!” because it seemed like a nice round number. I could tell by their faces that the going rate was probably more like half that. It was during this ride that I learned that although you actually do get used to the constant horns tooting, if you happen to be in a tunnel when the vehicle next to you leans on his horn you’ll probably have to spend the next couple of minute scraping your eardrums off the ceiling.
Methinks if I’m gonna make the most of my full day tomorrow I’ll be needing some manner of plan of attack so I’m gonna work that out whilst sat in my underwear underneath a very fast ceiling fan which is my current favourite inanimate object in the whole wide world. I’ve almost survived my first day in Delhi. All I have left to do is go out, locate and consume food that will not cause my internal organs to liquefy and seep out through my arse and I reckon I’ll have cracked it.
Stayed at: Hotel Namaskar, Paharganj, Delhi