All Roads lead to Food in Delhi
We’re now on our third day here and during that time we have taken 6 tuk tuk rides. Every time we’ve got into one I feel a degree of trepidation. Nothing to do with the crazy Delhi traffic but lots to do with the fee minefield. All tuk tuks have meters which they are legally required to use for all journeys but they hardly ever seem to be switched on (there’s a funny thing). There is a formula which you can use to work out how much the journey should cost, 20 rupees to start then 6.5 rupees per kilometer. Here’s the break down of charging protocol, fees paid and perceived satisfaction of each of our tuk tuk drivers:
- Driver 1 takes us from the commercial centre to a cottage craft industries shop. Waits for us there and then brings us back to the commercial centre. Whole trip takes about 45 minutes. Charges 50 rupees. Seems extremely happy.
- Driver 2, Chindar, a very nice tuk tuk driver for 35 years. Picks us up near our hotel, takes us a round several sites, waits while we wander about taking photos. Takes us down some crazy street to buy batteries for the camera and goes to the shop to get them. Takes us to a craft shop (probably gets a commission for this) then runs us into the commercial centre. Whole trip takes about 2 hours. Says I should pay whatever I think is appropriate. This is not helpful. I give him 200 rupees and he looks very happy and says he’ll pick us up tomorrow if we want another tour. The mileage would not add up to much but he has been very helpful and with us a long time so I’m very happy with the deal.
- Driver 3, picks us up at metro for short trip to hotel. Says he knows where it is then asks us for directions then gets lost and has to ask locals for directions. Takes about 12 minutes. Tells me to pay what I think is right. I give him 100 rupees (which was definitely over the odds) and he looks well hacked off. Cheeky Git!
- Driver 4 picks us up near the hotel for a short hop to the metro station. Takes 7 or 8 minutes, charges 30 rupees, simple transaction; top Man! That’s actually about the right price; perhaps a fraction over.
- Driver 5 picks us up at Khan Market and I ask him to drive us to the nearest metro station. I know which station this is but can’t pronounce it so I leave it vague. He drives to a station further away. The meter on this one is actually running and says 42 rupees for a 10 minute journey. He says the fee is 100 rupees. I point at the meter and he says, ‘no, no, two people is 100 rupees’. This is untrue, there is no extra charge for a second person and the guy needs reporting; also he was a crazy driver (even by Delhi tuk tuk standards). I gave him 50 rupees. He wasn’t happy at all. I hope he gets a flat tyre.
- Driver 6. Has an electric tuk tuk, very peaceful. Takes us the reverse of driver 4, but slightly less distance and charges 40 rupees. He’s overcharging a little but not taking the mickey and I’m relaxed by the peaceful ride so I pay up.
In other transport news our metro train had a technical fault today and had to wait for several minutes in each station rather than seconds. By London standards, this is not news but Delhi’s metro is only 10 years old and every ride we’ve has been quick and easy. So today’s train got ever fuller until it was a seething mass of humanity pressed cheek by jowl into a steel tube. No one grumbled, no one started harrumphing and no one said anything rude about the train company. Someone translated the announcements for us and when I commented to my neighbour that everyone got to make friends quickly on the metro someone from across the carriage added, ‘yes, and we get to smell each other as well’. When we finally got off my first comment to Holly was, ‘That was fun’. And it’s true.
Of course the reason for all this traveling about is to get us from one eating stop to another and today we had three great experiences.
At the Dilli Haat craft village we ate momos. These are little dumplings stuffed with fresh vegetables, steamed and then served with very hot chilli sauce. Not just delicious but also healthy and invigorating.
After an appetite reviving walk through the beautiful Lodi Gardens we stopped at Khan Cha Cha’s in Khan Market (thank you Tanya for the recommendation) and had barbecued lamb kakori and chiken tikka. This was our first meat in India and well worth the wait. Beautifully succulent with a nice little charring and plenty of spice left us wishing we’d ordered more.
Then to Haldiram’s for sweeties. This is one Delhi institution that we had to stop in on and we weren’t disappointed. The variety of sweets and petits fours is incredible and we picked out a selection of little nuggets of temptation to have with tea back at the hotel.
Another good day, finishing with the overnight train to Jodhpur – this week some of the trains have been delayed by 8 hours due to fog so we’re hoping we won’t be too much past our 7.30am arrival time for the next stage of the tour in Rajasthan. Keep your fingers crossed for us!