The Capitol.

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….

Love

Alex

For bad Hindus and badder backpackers (He Said She Said, Hauz Khas)

India is all at once a grungy mess - and just lovely. (Hauz Khas)

Cheese!

Treasure trove!

 
 
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