Old Delhi, left to right: one of the many alleyways leading to our hotel; market right outside the previous alleyway - boy selling melons; a common sight- chai stall.
I'm back! I just spent 12 glorious days travelling around Rajasthan. I was vegetarian for most of the trip and am utterly convinced that I could live on Indian vegetarian forever. The thalis are just so delicious that I felt completely satisfied after each meal. Ah, I miss the morning pooris, sweet spicy chai, and Diggi Palace's excellent naan. Everyone is surprised by my positive review of India. They always crinkle their nose before asking "So how was it?" Everything that you have heard about India are both true and false. When everyone keeps telling you how nasty and dirty Delhi is, combined with reading too many kwai loh guide books, I started to believe that I was doomed to die a violent death from food poisoning or sheer dirtiness! If you think about how populated Delhi is, over 20 million and growing, it is relatively clean compared to Kuala Lumpur. Sure they are some nasty bits but as a tourist, you never really get to see it unless you make a point to go looking for it. As for feeling overwhelmed by the masses, I didn't quite feel it. Oh wait, only when travelling in a precarious tuk-tuk. Talk about too close for comfort! Hats off to Indian drivers. They are true masters of the road. And I say that with all sincerity. Not only do they have to navigate the countless potholes, there are added obstacles in the form of other vehicles swerving violently to avoid unsuspecting animals (and sometimes people) lying in the middle of the road. I think its funny how so many of these cows are happily grazing on the greens growing on the divider oblivious to the chaos they are causing. So while the roads from town to town are relatively smooth, you can never drive over 80kph because something is always crossing the road. Billy goats, camels, cows, buffalos and the occasional elephant. Our driver Mr Singh from Indian Holidays is a real champion. Thank you Mr Singh for bringing us back safely and not killing any animals on the way!
The night that we arrived, our driver tells us that there had been a serial bomb blast an hour earlier. So the dusty sky we mistook for pollution wasn't really pollution at all. It felt unreal as everyone seemed quite indifferent. The following day, it was business as usual and the only signs of the bomb blasts that we could see was increased security and upturned bins near India gate (a few bombs were found in the bins and diffused in time). Navigating the pretty manicured streets of New Delhi on the first day of our tour was a far cry from the messy and narrow roads of Old Delhi. But where was the drove of beggars that I had heard so much about?There were a couple of children that came tapping on the window of our hired car but nothing like I had imagined. Maybe asian faces don't look as welcoming as mat salleh ones. There was one girl who was quite persistent. She was quite a contortionist. She was doing flips and splits in the middle of heavy traffic and no one even batted an eyelid. It is a sad sight to see especially when you look into their eyes and see where childhood innocence should be is a hard resilience instead. After a whirlwind of day of sightseeing, that evening we boarded the Mandore Express for a 12 hour ride to Jodhpur.
Delhi, from left to right: huge archway in heavy relief; golgappa stall Rps10 for 3 pieces (more on these addictive snacks later!); quiet moment at Jama Masjid