Tag Archives: New Delhi

Back to Delhi

They say the India experience is not complete without some proper effect of the food on your stool if you know what I mean ;-). It took a while, but eventually also I was not resistant against the dark corners of Indian food. I experienced the most horrible Indian toilet that will stay permanently on my mind. It was a toilet on the road back to New Delhi. I asked the driver to stop, because I really needed to go to the toilet for a number two. He stopped at a restaurant alongside the road. I rushed to the toilet with a roll of toilet paper. I opened the door and saw a hole in the ground on one side. Flies swarmed around the hole. On the other side a saw a familiar western toilet, but is was filled to the nock with… well… doodoo! Like iiiieeeeeuuuuww!!!! I felt like neo in the matrix. Will I take the blue or the red pil? But in this case they both lead down a bad path. Hahaha. I don’t remember anymore how I did it, but I managed.

We arrived in New Delhi with our driver and had to pay him. Prior to the trip we agreed on 20 Rps a kilometer and 200 Rps for each night. We did 750 kilometer and we also stayed some extra nights without travelling. So this meant 750 x 20 Rps for the driving and 200 Rps per night. Easy calculation! Suddenly there was a minimum fee of 150 kilometers a day. So this meant that if you don’t use the car for a few days, which we did, you still have to pay this minimum, which meant paying 3000 Rps a day for not using a car. Sounded strange to us and we were not told this. Another scam? Not again!! Hahaha. We ended up arguing with the driver, his manager and the whole tourist bureau. Eventually after argueing for ages, we met each other halfway, but the good vibes between us and the driver were completely gone. But hey, thats India! Haha.

One custom of Indian men I can’t leave out is the clearance of their throat and nostrals all the time. They seem to spit a lot and don’t hesitate to make a loud sound, while doing it. I say to each his own, but please dont do it 2 seconds after you hand over my delicious, slimey, green curry. Hahaha I had this at a restaurant, you must have a real strong appetite to eat after that.

In New Delhi we visited the Lotus Temple. A Bahá’í House of Worship notable for its flowerlike shape. If you look it up on a map, you can see that even the garden is built in the form of a lotus flower. To get there you have to take of your shoes and walk barefoot on a carpeted stairs, all the way up to the temple. But the smell that was coming from this carpet was horrific!! Hahaha. Imagine thousands of different, indian smelly feet, multiplied with the days of the year and the fact that I’m sure this carpet is never washed you get my grip on what your nose has to go to. Hahaha. But it was more then worth it! When you enter the temple it silences you! A real special experience!

Finally we decided to visit the Gandhi memorial, which is the place where he was assasinated. We asked a new driver to take us to the Gandhi memorial. Strangely enough he didn’t know exactly where it was, but then we saw the signs along the road saying Ghandi Memorial. We followed the signs, got out and followed alongside the crowd in to the building. But inside the building we only saw pictures of an Indian woman, with a lot of history about her, but no signs of Ghandi. Soon we found out that there is also an Indira Gandhi, the first female prime minister who has also been assasinated and also has a memorial. Wrong memorial, but still special. Wow!

We got to the Mahatma Gandhi memorial, which was just a few minutes driving. It was impressive, but strangely enough less crowded. You could see his room where he spent the last minutes and on the floor they layed out his footsteps of his last route. You can follow these footsteps from this room all the way to the garden where they suddenly stop.. on the place where he was assassinated. If that doesn’t bring shivers through your spine, you need to check your nerve system. Greatness!

I had some trouble getting a train ticket for Rishikesh. All the trains were fully booked. I had only one chance to score a ticket and that was by going to the train station in person and go to the foreigner desk. They always save some seats for way too optimistic foreigners who think they can book their Indian train ticket three days in advance. Lol! The hotel staff warned me about scams, so I was prepared. They explained us the exact location of the foreigner desk. “Entrance, first floor on your left”. And luckily they did, because more than once, guys offered us to show us the way to the foreigner desk and tricking us in to going in to their own desk and buy tickets with them which are way more expensive and even false. One guy really topped it off. He tried to convince us that the tourist office moved outside of the train station a while ago. It moved to a white building at the other end of the street. He was more than happy to take us there. Yeah.. and I have crazy written on my forehead. Hahaha. I got the tickets at the real foreigner desk. Jeeja!!

My companion for two weeks was going to leave. I am on my own again. Heading for my silence retreat in the Ashram…

The Culture Shock

Out of all countries I visited untill now, India gave me the greatest culture shock. It is so complex, so diverse and really different from anything else I have seen untill now. First of all, it was hot, really hot. Between 40 and 45 degrees. It was dry season. Yellow green rickshaws trying to find their way through the heavy traffic. And in India unlike in the west they honk, just to notice other drivers of their presence. So you constantly here honks everywhere. Because of this they even introduced silence zones in some parts of the city, where it is prohibited to honk. Like wow! Apart from a rickshaw here and there, we did most local transportation by taxi. And don’t be surprised when suddenly through all this traffic you see a large, imposing, creature, slowly passing by. An elephant! And then a few meters down the way a camel. Indian music bumping out of the taxis’ shrill sounding speakers. The driver suddenly stops and tries to manoeuvre around a cow that is just standing in the middle of the road causing traffic, because of course they are holey creatures here in India. Even the Mc Donalds in India only serves Mc Chicken and Mc Fish filet. No burgers! Hahaha. Really! I found out when I tried to order and didn’t see any burger on the menu. Sitting in the taxi it is also a wonder we never had an accident. One driver was even ghost riding on a part of the high way in the evening, while we were sitting in the back looking at each other, like, is this really happening?

One time we were driving behind a truck with three black oxes, all squashed together. One was laying on it’s knees gasping for air, while he was squashed down by the other two and was slowly dying. It was a horrible sight. The taxi driver simply told us, that these where not holey creatures, because they were no cows and they mostly die during transportation. I’m no animal activist, but this is terrible! Like… wow!!

The city is very dusty and full of smog. So bad that when you make a picture at night using flash, you see the particles light up on your picture. The streetscape is full of people. Every where people. All sorts of people. All busy with something. Selling things in their shops, driving, walking, spitting, running, yelling and even shaving.. yeah you can get a fresh cut, just on the street, bicycles with dozens of boxes stacked on them, a woman driving a motor on the highway with a baby in her one hand and driving with the other. Wow! Unfortunately the streets are filled with a lot of poverty as well. It is not uncommon to see someone suffering from polio walk by with floppy limbs or elephantiasis (elephant’s leg), a lot of dirt and waste on the streets, even people who made homes out of this waste material, more animals, hogs, donkeys and a lot… I mean a lot of monkeys. And then there is the smell. A warm, thick, deep, sour smell that sometimes suddenly grasps your nose. At times this is mixed and made bearable by the smell of burning compost or incense.

Seeing all this things really make you feel greatful for our situation back home. It also makes you realize how unfairly devided the world is. At the same time this is only the first curtain of India you see. If you dare to look behind the curtain there is also a lot of beauty, splendor, history and magnificence to the country where all religions coincide! India! The word alone carries so much weight. The slogan “Incredible India” is really applicable, but then in the good and the bad way. India is incredible and unbelievable at the same time. In dutch we only have one word for these two words… “Ongeloofelijk!”

The Wrong Indian Chain

I arrived in New Delhi in the evening. Sander, a friend, who was going to join me for two weeks on my journey in India, would arrive at night. My plan was to check in at the hotel, where we already made a reservation, and pick him up later with a taxi. I took a trustworthy airport taxi, with a fixed price. After 10 minutes of driving, the taxi driver asked again for the address. I showed him my paper with the address on it. Suddenly he didn’t know where the address was, it seemed to be an incomplete address. He offered to call the Hotel for me to ask for directions. After a short Indian conversation he hung up saying the hotel was closed, all the bookings were cancelled because it was election time and of course he knew just the perfect Hotel for me. All my alarm bells started ringing!! I had heard about this scam already and wasn’t going to fall for it. I knew they where just trying to lure me to another hotel where they get some kind of commission. After I refused to go to the other hotel he offered to drop me off at the New Delhi Tourist information. My plan was to get a normal taxi there and get to my hotel. However at the Tourist information they told me te same story. I insisted to call the hotel myself, dialing the number my self. Only after I spoke to someone from the hotel confirming the story, I believed it. I went to their recommended hotel. Later on I picked up Sander from the airport with a taxi that was arranged by the Tourist information and everything seemed well. It was a bit strange however, that each time we tried to leave the hotel someone linked to the Tourist information was waiting at our service for us to guide us, drive us etc. We noticed every time we left, they informed the Tourist information and slowed us down with chit chat until someone from the Tourist information arrived. I listened to my gut-feeling and decided to send an email to our initial hotel, just for some extra double checking.

The next morning I got a mail back that they where open 365 days a week and that we were mislead by the taxi driver. Wow! We immediately decided to book a new hotel and get the hell out of this complot. However, things got ugly when we really wanted to get out. All sorts of people trying to get us back to the maffia Tourist information. When I wanted to check out we were offered a discount if we would go to the Tourist information and get a coupon. I thanked for the offer and said that I don’t want the discount. Then suddenly I could not pay at the hotel desk, only pay at the Tourist information. When I refused, the guy called the manager of the Tourist information and handed me the phone to talk to him. I explained I just wanted to pay at the hotel and didn’t need any discount. When the price of the hotel was suddenly increased by 1000 Rupies and he would only speak to the white guy, meaning my friend, I started to loose my temper. Like seriously!!!?? I stopped all communication, went back to the room, we booked the new hotel which would pick us up from there and took a chance by putting the initial agreed amount of cash on the desk of the reception and just walk out. Luckily no one tried to stop us. Guess we were convincing ;-) Hahaha I skyped the newly booked hotel with my iPad, still using the wifi of the old hotel Haha. A few moments later a taxi arrived to bring us to the new hotel. Completely paranoid, we didn’t trust it and asked if he knew the name of the hotel we where going to. He didn’t! Seemed our paranoia wasn’t misplaced. He was also in the complot and part of the Tourist information maffia. Finally our real taxi arrived and we got in to this over the top 5 star, swimming pool, spa, resort behind gates. Hahaha. We thought we deserved it! ;-) I later found out that we were in a wrong chain. A chain is a network of taxi drivers, hotels and tourist booking agencies that all work together. They try to lure fresh, new tourist meat in to there chain as soon as they get of the plane. There are some good chains though, we were just unlucky to start of in a bad one. And this is just the short version. Hahaha