Date: 28 April
Location: Elma's (for morning tea), trendy Hauz Khas village, Delhi
Notable sightings: Fader. They're playing the Temper Trap album here.
Landing at night, in a city I've never been to and whose geography I don't understand, in a Hindu country, the language(s) of which I don't speak or read, I'd arranged for an airport pick-up from India Ghandi Airport. It never turned up. In what can only be described as a serious fail by me, I'd let my phone die and didn't have a print out of the driver's contact details or, (idiot) my hotel's address.
I tried a few taxi drivers but none knew the hotel (so many Indan head bobbles) — and, really, in a city with a million people in a square kilometre, what could I expect? Finally, I assembled a dream team of drivers and a cool kid with an iPhone and we tracked it down and got me there. I collapsed under the air conditioner and prayed for a gentler Monday.
This morning, I mustered every little ounce of courage I had and, armed with bottled water and the Lonely Planet on my iPad, decided to have adventures on the Delhi Metro.
The metro is great: there's a smart card system but also a token system based on distance travelled (about 20 cents for 10 stops), trains run every few minutes, the lines are colour coded like a rainbow spiderweb and there are special carriage just for women. Yeah, the metro is great but, as it turns out:
- Delhi isn't a big fan of street signs.
- I think I'm quite good at reading maps.
- I really suck at reading maps.
- That's a pretty lethal combination.
Four trains and two tuktuks later I've managed to get to the shady little artist enclave of a Hauz Khas village (coolest Indian name ever?) and have clutched gratefully to the first hipster cafe I laid my greedy little eyes upon. Yes, madam would like a cafe latte.
Edit: Next stop was Connaught Place. It's a funny feeling climbing up stairs from an underground metro station, seeing only the sunburnt sky and not sure what to expect when you get to the top. Connaught Place – technically Connaught Circus, after the London tradition (and circus is spot on ) – is a huge grassy circular plaza featuring the Indian flag, ringed with colonial-style white painted high street shops, strays and street vendors. Lunch time.
Well inland now, I'm saying goodbye to seafood for the next month. I learned the other day that when a menu says 'lamb' it likely means goat, and 'beef' it likely means water buffalo so perhaps I'll be saying goodbye to lamb and beef too. A local guide pointed out the 'sheep on the road' the other day. They were goats….