My first introduction to my tour group was a group dinner where we’re all bused to the heart of Delhi.
Of course, I’m mortified to be part of such a blatant group of gawkers and walk about 5 feet behind them, so the locals would not associate me with them.
Which was completely ridiculous. I clearly did not belong there just as much as the bumbling tourists in front of me.
I first bond with Joan, a saucy Brit, as we share a spicy eggplant dish and mutton curry. Oy, the mutton.
The eggplant dish was 82% grease and the mutton was 82% bone, I’m positive Joan hogged all the meat for herself. Which amounted to one forks’ full.
Figuring out how to split the bill afterwards proved to be quite the arduous task. In the end, folks were arguing over what amounted to be 25 cents.
I threw in a bit extra and went outside for some not so fresh air.
The next morning Sam, our tour guide, showed us a bit of Old Delhi.
We ride past the goat peddlers…
and the camel peddlers…
We took bike ridden rickshaws through the really cool, narrow streets of exactly what I pictured the stereotypical India to look like.
They’re filled with tiny shops, skinny cows, spaghetti –like electrical wires blanket the sky, I believe one out of every 121 actually function.
However, one little rainstorm and everyone gets electrocuted.
Indian folks are preparing their breakfast, carrying carts of bananas and tomatoes, getting a shave, urinating, all of their daily tasks out in the open.
Everything in India is done in public, it seems.
There is no privacy and no shame.
We arrive at an old Islamic mosque (called the Jama Masjid)
Everyone had to take off their shoes (and pay to not have them stolen)
The women of the group are forced to don horrific polka-dotted smocks before entering.
And they’re not free either.
It was a very peaceful, quiet respite from the chaotic honking of the outside world.
A man walked up to me, pined a bird pendant on my shirt (I knew this was trouble) and requested donations for some school for the blind.
The least he could have done was pretend to be blind. Look to my left a bit. Even I know that old trick.
When I offered 100 rupees, he said “200 would be better”
Of course it would.
I walked away from him fast before the other beggars came a calling.
We took our rickshaws back the way we came.
When our driver requested a tip, I pointed to our tour guide and darted away to the safety of our bus.
Sam had asked for $50 US from all of us to cover all the tips for the rest of the tour.
It made things very convenient but these guys didn’t always know that when we walked away without giving them any moola.
Our bus was a stinky, ice cavern and we took it to some park that had an eternal flame going in honor of Gandhi, who was cremated there.
Not much to see, but it was another quiet place to walk around.
Then we began our journey to the airport to fly to Varanasi, the holy city.
At the airport is where I would learn the true meaning of “India Time”
All the airports are clean, modern facilities and the security is tight!
No man gets unfrisked.
All the ladies are taken into private screening kiosks.
One of our group insisted that she was frisked a bit TOO well. I rolled my eyes and went along with the story that this short, dumpy “vision” was too irresistible to a deeply religious Hindi woman.
We grabbed a bite at this southern Indian joint at the food court. This is when we were still excited to try the local cuisine.
After eating, our flight became delayed.
Then, when we finally boarded, we waited another hour. I could feel the temperature rising. I began to sweat. The little air vent blowing bacteria laden breath on me seemed to decrease in strength by the minute….
I suddenly began to smell….people….unwashed….
All this for a ONE HOUR FLIGHT!!