I really believe that if you’re ever going to get to know a city, and certainly if you want to get to know one quickly, then the only way to do it is to spend a good proportion of your time on shank’s pony. The only exception to this rule is Los Angeles; don’t walk there, it makes no sense at all and people will look at you funny. But old and historic cities developed when you didn’t have much option but to walk so you’re much better able to piece together their constituent parts if you walk. It gives you a sense of scale and you’ll see, hear and smell things which give insights no bus top tour could ever do.
Of course it also exposes you to things you might rather ignore, but that’s just to settle for the sanitised view of a city which the department of tourism would have us see.
Our tour today started late; well we didn’t get to bed until about 4am so even the honk happy rush hour didn’t wake us. After a breakfast of stuffed parantha, lime pickle and yoghurt we took the subway into the centre of Dehli. Subways are always a great place for people watching and Delhi has a super modern new system, which they only started building in 2002 and now carries over 2,000,000 passengers a day.
Almost as soon as we started our rather aimless walkabout we were approached by smiley strangers who seemed quite happy to chat, point out the nearest Tourist Office, practice some English then head off in another direction without trying to sell us anything. A tuk-tuk driver did seem overly keen to take us to a particular tea shop, which we declined but we did walk into a craft showroom and were immediately dragged off to be hard sold Kashmiri rugs made from goat’s wool, yak’s wool and silk. It came with a nice cup of chai which luckily provided us with sufficient refreshment to fight our way out rug free but it was touch and go for a moment especially when they offered to ship it home.
Eventually we found ourselves in the labyrinthine markets of Old Delhi. Narrow streets with low hanging electicity cables, stray dogs, mopeds and tiny shop after tiny shop selling seemingly identical products. We wandered through the sari district, the pasmina district, the stationery district, the place where everyone seems to pee on the street district and eventually the electrical district. That last one wasn’t quite so interesting but it did mean I could buy an adaptor so I can now recharge this notebook and keep writing the blog, so don’t knock it.
Famished by now, we needed sustenance and of course we hadn’t a clue. So we dipped into a cafe that looked interesting.
We asked the friendly waiter what was good. He reeled off some words and we said yes, we’ll have two. Food appeared. It was good. very good.
This is grilled kachori with chana dal.
This is fried kachori, a bread stuffed with crushed, spiced lentils which was served with a chilli dip and a herb dip.
We seemed to cause some bemusement to staff and other customers. Judging from the stares we got I guess not many westerners frequented this joint. As we ate another customer with excellent English came and asked us if we were enjoying the Indian food whilst the younger waiters just laughed every time we caught their eye.
Now back at the Guesthouse we’re having a quiet pot of darjeeling tea and then hopefully a good night’s sleep before our big day out with Avnish.
P.S. The errant bag has caught up with us so the paperwork was not in vain.