Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Delhi 1

 The day before we leave the weed shifter decided to move out.

Jan 5th

Travelled down to London by car and parked in Purple Parking.  The cost of parking is less than the train ride and easier when we come back.

Lee had never seen Terminal 5 so was interested in seeing that which put her out of a job. Its very modern as you would expect and well laid out with plenty of seating, coffee shops and snack bars to spend the time.  The large coffee we had was a lot cheaper than buying one in a certain coffee shop back in Lincoln which was rather a surprise. 

Boarded the plane at 2030 and ended up with seats in a 747-400 up in the hump next to the pilot. The seats were almost facing each other and fully recline-able.  And very comfortable it was too. Welcomed on board by the crew and throughout the trip they were very attentive ensuring that the red wine was up to standard and the glass of champagne was the right temperature. 

Taxiing down the runway and out through the window the view was from a similar height to that of the upper deck of a large channel ferry.  Engines rev up and the brakes are off.  I tried to count the seconds of acceleration and about 30 seconds later we are in the air.  How on earth does aerodynamics cope with the weight of something this large. The views over London were enjoyable but not long enough to figure out where you are or the direction you are travelling in.

Seat belts unbuckled and its red wine and nuts. The temperature outside - I don’t intend going to find out - is between -65 and -75. That is a bit nippy and I haven’t got a thick coat with me.

Over Luxemburg the meal is served. Mmmmm! I started with Tandoori prawns with chick pea chat masala salad then Saag paneer with lemon rice and tarka dal. Are you drooling yet?  There could have been Normandy Camembert for dessert but I was  full enough by then.

On the journey of 7½ hours there are a load of good films I could have watched or a number of games to play all on the seat back player but ended up sleeping most of the time.

Breakfast was taken over the approach to Faisalabad.  Most of the time well above the clouds with the occasional glimpse of mountains till now then full cloud cover all the way to Delhi. Chilled fruit juice with vegetable samosa, spring roll, bacon roll and a mozzarella Danish.  Full up again. Superb food, drink and service. 

Jan 6th

The first view of Delhi is during the taxiing.  It was clouds all the way until very low. 

Lee is impressed as am I with the airport. All the way to the customs it is carpeted and modern. Outside it is very different. Chaos.

Out in the fresh? Air is  humid and misty. Unsure of where to go so we hopped into a taxi and told the driver the road we wanted to get to.  The drive in was rather noisy with traffic seeming to go  in all directions.

We are dropped outside the Cosmos Hotel. Most likely the driver gets a bit of commission for each guest he brings in. Room not bad but dearer than the Kwality Hotel we had thought of going too.

After putting our gear in the room we go out and wandered around Delhi for a little while. The place is in chaos with rickshaws, tuk tuks and the rest fighting for road space. A quickish hobble round the corner to check out Hotel Kwality and while it is not any star it is as good as Cosmos and half the price. Connaught Place seemed as good a place as any to head for. This meant a walk to the nearest  Metro which we found by accident.

The walk was over a railway bridge and below could be seen a gang doing what looked like track lifting.  The debris was taken away by a quartet of donkeys with a number of women  doing pick and shovel work. Luckily the trains are going slow as the gang is not in a great hurry to get out of the way. The trains are on par with the London underground and almost as crowded.  The cost of a ticket is 50 rupees and lasts 20 minutes. As there are few lines it means you can get from one end to the other in the allotted time. The metro entrance has a similar layout when it comes to security as every large place we go to later.  The Taj, the Red fort or the Metro they all have two sets of metal detectors that have to be gone through - one for males and one for females. Then the bags are looked at.

We arrive at Connaught Place to more chaos.  This time the traffic chaos is added to by the fact that there are rather large holes in the ground through which a future Metro will be travelling.

Connaught Place designed by Lutjens must have looked stunning in it day.  Now it is getting very tatty round the edges and all the advert detract from the view. Cars everywhere and trying to walk around is difficult.  It doesn’t help that I have sprained an ankle.

A cup of coffee in the café and we take Tuk Tuk to Birlha temple and old home of Lee.  The temple is on the tourist map and while very interesting in itself the grounds are more attractive at the moment. Shoes off to wander inside and more marble to keep the feet cool. Having said that it’s a lot cooler that I expected.

The grounds have a number of statues. Now whether the fact the children love them is an intentional factor I am unsure but they are certainly just right to be climbed on.

Across the road was the car and bus park for the temple. Now all covered in trees.  Next to this was Dalhousie Square. As Lees father-in-law was Deputy Director General of the Armed Forces Medical Services this was a government housing area. Sadly this has gone completely disappeared.  Lee spent many months at her father-in-laws house until their new home at Greater Kailash was built.

Jan 7th

Its cool again.  The news last night said it was the coldest day in Delhi for some time.  Marvellous. You escape the English winter and the weather comes with you. 

Out and pick up a taxi to visit the previous family home in Greater Kailash. Friends who lived across the road are out.  

The house still has father-in-laws name on it. Nothing for it to move on to the visit of today.

The family that lives in East of Kailash is made up of  previous Aunt-in-law, but the family are such that the Lee is still accepted as a daughter and close family member, her eldest son Kulbushan, her youngest son, Dev and his wife, Sonha, and their daughter Rahadika.

I was made really welcome and help right at home with them all.

After tea and a nibble we were taken off in the car to visit to the Lotus Temple.

Dev and his wife, Sonha, and their daughter Rahadika.

What an astounding place.  It is just a single massive room covered with marble for the coolness during the summer roasting. Outside are large gardens in which to take an evening stroll and chill out.

Just to prove I was there too only generally on the other side of the camera :-)

Jan 8th

 Taxi arrives at the hotel for 10am and its off to the Red fort today.  The traffic never ceases to amaze me.

Red Fort and the Lahore Gate

Tight security and the walls can no longer be walked on.  At least today. There is a parade going on at Delhi Gate so it could be for that.

Not only foreign tourists visit these sites.  It is a lot cheaper for Indians to enter and hundreds take the opportunity. 

The entry way is and always has been a covered market and the only people that used it at one time were those right at the very top of Indian society.

Stunning buildings made of marble with channels down which water runs to keep things cool. This was built by the same person that built the Taj and it is of the same quality of workmanship.

Many decorations in the marble are of flowers. Amazing.

Away from the main entrance there are a number of blocks that instantly look like barracks. Although a different place and time it reminds me heavily of HMS Terror barracks in Singapore.

Water is in evidence everywhere.

With Independence Day being near the Delhi Police keep the locals guessing as to where the next check point will be.

Just across the road we found this rather large market.

Never seen so many people out after a bargain.  The driver explained that there were a large number of European items for sale here.  Why? Because it was so expensive to clean them it was easier to send out to India. :-) True 

On the way back to the hotel we make a visit to the Shrine to Mahatma Gandhi. Another place where footwear is not allowed. Serene setting with the eternal flame on the site of his cremation covered in flower petals.  I think they change the design fairly regularly as I have seen pictures of four different ones.

We sit on the seat near the entrance and enjoy the quiet.

No comments: