New Delhi // India

“I think I’ve underestimated India”

One of the first phrases Charlie mumbled as we weaved between tuk tuks, cars, people, not only trying to prevent ourselves from getting run over but also trying not to trample any of the children that lay on the floor rolling in the dirt. I think it’s probably safe to say that both Charlie and I have underestimated India considering it has taken us 2 planes, 1 tuk tuk ride, 1 train, 4 people attempting to help us and 24 hours to finally get to a hotel. 2 of those hours were spent in a tourist office trying to figure out what the hell we are going to do in India for the next 20 days.

We ended up in the tourist office because as soon as we had crossed the treacherous road from the train station where our hostel was supposedly located, we were informed by one of the four very helpful people that our hostel (zostel) was located on a private road which we would need to get a permission slip for otherwise we would not be allowed entrance.

Exactly what we didn’t want to hear after 22 hours of travelling.

But better that we found out early as opposed to being turned away at the actual road. I think Charlie and I probably would have had a simultaneous breakdown considering how sleep deprived we were.

We later found out that Zostel was located in one of the dodgiest areas in Delhi where we would be followed (and I quote) “by hookers and people on smack” and we needed to get permission to enter this road because they had upped security due to a rape earlier that month. I’m pretty sure I stared at the man blankly not really processing what he was saying, was he really telling this to two tourists who have had next to no sleep for the past 24 hours? Did he want us to start banging our heads against the desk?

The nice man called Naz (who apparently also goes by the name John) offered us a deal we really couldn’t refuse. All of our accommodation (breakfast included), transport and the majority of our sights for £500. At this point Charlie and I had only booked 3 nights of our accommodation and 4 of our many trains so it wasn’t like we would lose a lot of money, he also promised to cancel all the trains we had already booked, making the deal even sweeter. (I must say now that we have been here a couple days it’s been a relief to have this all sorted.)

After a hefty credit card transaction and short 20 minute drive, we finally arrived to Sunstar Hotel and had a much needed and well deserved nap.

That evening, we were ready to see what Delhi had to offer. We took a stroll around the India gate whilst getting harassed by children. I have literally never been harassed so much in my life. One girl, (who couldn’t have been older than 9 or 10) literally grabbed my arm and tried to start decorating it with henna. Luckily, I knew straight away what she was trying to do, if she got one speck of henna on my arm she was gonna make me pay. I was not having any of it. I yanked my arm away and raised them above my head out of her reach. Then again, I got approached by a 4 year old girl who kept trying to sell me bracelets, she seemed innocent enough but when I said no she literally would not step out of my way. Had she been in my year 10 p.e class, I don’t doubt that she would have got a house point for her unbelievable marking skills. I got round her after remembering some of my hockey dodging skills. You know, where you pretend to step one way but you actually go the other way? Yes. That is a technical term.

Whilst I was being harrassed and stalked by children, Charlie was being treated like a celebrity as two girls asked to have their photo taken with him. I’ll tell you now, it’s good to be a boy in India.

And that leads me to where I am now. Sat in an amazing restaurant called Hot Chimney, which has the best naan bread I have ever tasted.

So how would I describe my first day in India? Charlie says crazy with a K and a zzz. I would add overwhelming, exhausting and exhilarating.

It’s good to be travelling again.

See you soon.

S x

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