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Delhi - The first day, anyone for pee pee?

INDIA | Tuesday, 14 February 2012 | Views [1232]

From Kuala Lumpur, we finally landed in New Delhi at 2245. The first thing I noticed when getting through immigration was the almost empty queues. I'd been expecting some nightmare air terminal from the 1960s, choke full of people. In actual fact Indira Gandhi International Airport is actually very modern, clean, air conditioned and going through immigration was a breeze. The taxi ride to the hotel was an adventure in itself. How is it possible for anyone to build a motorway that permits barely road worthy open-topped three wheelers. While I admire my drivers determination to get me to my hotel in the fastest time possible, I'd also like to get there without watching him play chicken with a 10 tonne articulated lorry, thank you very much.

I'd booked into a fairly expensive hotel for the next 7 day stay in Delhi. Mainly to ensure that there'd be no hassle and to help ease my way into the trip. I'm located in the South Delhi, the part called Lajpat Nagar 3, which I'm told is fairly affluent areaa of Delhi. The hotel is Clarks Inn and is conveniently located near the Central Market. At only 10 minutes’ walk away, it's an ideal place to stock up on drinks, food and medicines.

For the first full day in Delhi and I decided to stay local to familiarize myself with the surrounding area. Useful for returning from excursions after dark. On the first excursion outside, it didn't take long to notice the famous Delhi smog, quickly followed by a burning sensation in my throat. There's no doubt Delhi has the most polluted air my lungs have ever inhaled. On the walk to the market, the smell of urine gradually gets stronger the closer to the market and is !"£$ing pervasive. At the market, there are people everywhere, in the streets, in the park, outside shops. Most seemingly loitering and others shamelessly relieving themselves. Relieving themselves on the road, on the pavement, in the park and even on people's houses. There was even a group of people queuing up to pee on a wall. Probably the local politicians's house.

The market is enormous with many gated entrances and exits, each manned by armed soldiers. The weapons looked absolutely antiqued and probably not functional. Though that wasn't enough for me to provoke any of the soldiers, to test out the theory. Most of the goods sold in the market were aimed at the locals, but I did find several convenience stores and pharmacies.


In the afternoon I went to a local mall, Ansal Plaza, expecting a gleaming building of modern-ness. Instead it's a very large building hosting shops. Imagine something the size of Sachiehall Shopping Centre in Glasgow or a dull 2 story cement office block, but a lot duller with 100 shops. Don't get me wrong, the shop were selling consumer goods most of us would buy in the UK and the clientele all appeared to be the local university students or middle class types.

On the way back from a shopping mall, I encountered the first instance of someone trying to rip me off. Having agreed a 50 rupee fare back to my hotel, he then tried to charge me 80, citing some crap about the hotel being further than he thought. Since I've arrived, I've had shop keepers blatantly trying to rip me off, people jumping queues and my frustrations had boiled over. I told the driver to take the 50, call the police, tell them where I stayed if he still had a problem and walked off back to my hotel.

With my new found sense of bravado, I decided to forgo my rule of avoiding food from street stalls and braved the central market in the evening for a Paneer Paratha, which was delicious. If I got the runs, might as well get it over with in the first few days.

Tags: delhi, dirty, india, shock

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