Saturday, November 06, 2010

Delhi - Day One - Welcome to India

As I said, Delhi is a city like no other we have been to. There are hundreds of stray dogs, the smog is absolutely lung crushing and we've discovered that there is a thriving rat population.

We arrived on Tuesday morning at about 11am and, thankfully, we booked an airport pickup through our hotel. The gentleman that met us was attentive, pushing our cart of bags, and showed us to the car swiftly. We got in, and knowing that the traffic here is, shall we say, absolutely insane, we immediately looked for seat belts. Unsurprisingly we were unable to find any. Fortunately for us, and everyone that loves us, traffic is so intense that we never actually got over 40 per hour over the 26 km to the hotel. En-route we were offered some brown, dodgy looking rolled cigarettes which we declined as we could barely breathe due to the smog (and because we were taught by our parents not to take anything from strangers!).

When we got to our hotel the front door looked like we had anticipated but the room itself lacked something.... windows. We had heard that some hotel rooms did not have windows but thought that our CAD$22 per night would get us one. We were wrong. I can only imagine what you get for CAD$5 per night! The bed and room were fine and the bathroom had a western-style toilet (rather than a hole in the floor) so we were thankful for that.

After check in we went for a walk around the neighborhood to get ourselves acquainted with the area. It was absolutely mental - the smog, the honking horns, the rubbish, the amount of people and vehicles. This city is jam packed from floor to ceiling. We walked until we found an ATM and, realizing we were hungry, started to look out for somewhere to eat. We weren't yet brave enough to try something from a full on street vendor so when we passed a veg only cafeteria style restaurant we stopped there. Everyone inside was Indian which we thought must be a good thing. We went to the counter to order our food and were given a ticket. We went to the correct stall and the cook took the ticket. At that point we were instructed to sit down until our ticket number popped up. Ok, we thought, this is easy enough. Our food was ready in about 10 minutes and we tucked in. I ordered a veg Thali and Luke ordered something else which I cannot remember as it's been a few days since and we just picked it randomly. Both were absolutely delicious and extremely inexpensive.

Once we finished eating we headed to a neighborhood bar/restaurant that had been pointed out to us. After the chaos and the stunned mode we were in, it was definitely time for a beer.
Finally relaxed, we found a place to buy water and headed back to our room for an early night. We must have fallen asleep by about 8pm (the travelling took a lot out of us - neither of us got much sleep on the flight), and we were woken up at 3am by the sound of scratching in our bin. Freaked out, we pointed our flashlight at the bin and to our horror we saw that the rubbish inside was moving! It was then that we thought about the noises that had been coming from the ceiling and that I recalled pointing out a giant rat down the street from our hotel. By this point we were even more freaked out and panicky (which we now think was a bit much but at the time we were sleep deprived and startled awake). After a second we ran to the door, both of us shoving our way out into the hallway. After escaping the room I went to reception which the hotel states is open 24 hours, to find 2 men sleeping on the floor. I stopped for a minute to consider whether or not I should wake them when one of them noticed me and awoke the other who popped up to a standing position looking as startled as I felt. I proceeded to explain that we thought there was a rat in our room but as he didn't speak any English I pointed to the room and said 'rat'. He followed me with a broom made of branches, went in and poked at the bin. That's when I saw it - a rat the size of my fist (minus the tail). It climbed out of the bin and ran around the room. The gentleman then swatted at it a few times, it ran away and then he said 'sleeping'. Luke and I were still completely stunned by the whole situation and weren't able to sleep so we made ourselves a drink and tried to dampen our fears in hopes of falling back to sleep since we were being picked up for a tour at 9:30am. Once we had calmed down we had a serious laugh about the whole thing and felt fairly stupid for making such a big deal out of it. By about 4:45am we climbed back into bed to attempt sleep. Approximately 2 minutes later the scratching from above started again. Absolutely certain now that the sound was rats we turned on the light in hopes that we would frighten the horrible creatures. This of course did not happen but eventually we got another hour or so of sleep.....


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