January 18/16…..Travel to India
It was 4 in the morning when I started my day. Four of us girls left Victoria ….Janie, Gerry, Jeanette and myself. Janie left on a different flight and direction than us other 3 but we connected on our flight that left out of Toronto, with her sister Donna. There was snow on the ground and -9 in Toronto so of course they to de-ice the plane. As my late husband used to say in reference to the first ferry in the morning, that they were right on time….15 minutes late, we were right on time too……1 hour late when leaving the ground in Toronto for Delhi, India. The first two flights, YYJ to YVR and YVR to YYZ (Toronto), were on time. We were totally out-numbered race wise….probably 95% Indian or higher. The flight was good except it was so, so very long….about 14 hours. We arrived at the airport at 9:51 pm on January 19th. Figure it out…..it’s a long time. I believe there is 13.5 hours difference between Victoria and Delhi……Delhi being ahead. After going through the line up for e-visa customs (a different one than those with regular visas), picking up our luggage (didn’t have to have our luggage checked) we went to the exit where we were to be greeted by someone from Indus for our transfer to our hotel. No one was there. After waiting around for a while, Gerry asked a fellow with a cell phone (funny, he happened to be from Brampton, ON) if he could call Indus. They did send someone around finally….probably another half an hour. The airport is quite a distance from the hotel. The Hotel, the Metropolitan, is quite lovely. They check vehicles coming into the hotel parking lot, underneath…….with a mirror on a stick as well as under the hood. (I remember a similar experience when entering the property of a restaurant and classy resort, when I was in Kuwait). They also ask that you put any hand luggage or bags every time you enter the hotel, through a scanner. After unloading my luggage (cuz I had to find some stuff for my so very sore mouth and throat……hope it isn’t anything serious, I hit the hay around 1:30 am. Exhausted??? Oh yes! That was probably 30 plus hours since getting up.
After a good buffet breakfast we 3 met up with Audrey, whom both her and I though we were to share in Delhi. The hotel staff insisted that we were not to. Who knows??? As long as they don’t charge us more, I don’t care. They say I am to share with Laine, another gal on the trip. I’ll find out tomorrow when she arrives. Anyway, a representative from Indus met us in the lobby around 10 am, apologizing for the screw up at the airport when the fellow wasn’t there to greet us. He said also, that we could have a vehicle to drive us around Delhi anytime, with 2 hours notice, at no charge. We thought we 4 would just walk around and check out the sights in the area. Audrey had ventured outside earlier by herself. She and Jeanette and I had thought about taking a slum tour before leaving Victoria but after she had walked around earlier, thought we didn’t need to….that there was enough slums close by. Right from the start, it was pretty obvious from last night in the dark and this morning, there is major smog….a combination of fog and smut. It smelled somewhat bad last eve but not this morning. Anyway, we started our walk, after going back for my jacket (it was quite chilly…. about 9-10 in the morning and 14-15 in the day. Colder apparently than they are used to. Oh my, the vehicles were driving all over the place(there is no such thing as staying in your own lane), tuk-tuks (3 wheeled vehicles…..like motorized rickshaws) all over the place, trucks, and cars and taxis and they are all beeping their horns. It is deafening! We stopped by this humongous Sikh temple where we got a brief lesson on Sikhism before entering it. We had to put little cloth things on to cover our heads, had to take off our shoes and socks because you have to walk through water before going in (and wash your hands). It was explained to us that a temple is not a place of worship but a place of learning. The whole area appears to made from marble….the floors, walls, pillars, domes (that was explained are representative of upside down flowers … marigolds). Inside the “temple building” the ceiling, pillars and altar-type centre piece, was coated in gold…pure gold I am told. Impressive….the whole thing! From there we just wandered. We seemed to have guys hanging around us, wanting to help…across busy, and I mean take your life in your hands busy streets, showing us shops, getting tuk-tuks. One particular one, would wait outside as we would go in this store(?) or that and would be there when we exited. He was real a pain although he didn’t come off in anyway, as threatening. We saw a herd, if that is the right word, of monkeys, scurrying up this wall and down another….I guess in search of food. At one point, a woman was making Chai tea…on the side of the street. Gerry and Audrey had some….because it was obviously boiling that it should be safe to drink. We’ll see. Shawna, Donna and Janie’s niece who lives here in Delhi and whom along with husband are connected to Canadian High Commission, explained to us the night before, to not give anyone anything for if you do give one person something that hundreds will be all over you and….although it seems harsh, when you see little children with no legs…begging, to not give them money, food is okay. They are the way they are because someone, parent or pimp has done this to them as a way to make money. Disgusting! Twice I saw that yesterday. It is so hard when they are following after you with outstretched hands, to ignore and keep on walking. Keep remembering…….don’t!!! I think it was around 3 when we had had enough. My knees were bothering me and that constant “attention” and the noise of the horns beeping was getting to all of us. We though a nap was in order. Sleep it was. Audrey called at one point as did Jeanette, waking me up, asking if I wanted to go get something to eat. I did not. I had a protein shake and went back to sleep….not getting up until 4 am. Guess I was tired. Oh yes…no wifi anywhere ……unless you pay. Maybe tomorrow I will.
A number of the girls should have arrived last night but no one came to share with me. Sure wished I had wifi so that I could let my family and friends know that I am okay. Got to check on that.
7 am and the chanting with drums start. I heard them sometime during the night as well …… not sure what time it was though…. Maybe it was only 7pm???
At the breakfast buffet, we met up with a few more gals that arrived last night…..Pamela, Sherry, Laine, Christine, Iona, Glenda, Darlene and Linda. Later, although I didn’t see them (they are staying at a different hotel, are Cindy and Liz. Janie and Donna are at the High Commission. That leaves Gail H. to arrive on Friday.
We all with the exception of Sherry, walked around in much the same areas as the day before, finally ending up at the same place, Nirula Handcrafts Bazar P Ltd., where a number of us are having Indian PJs (kimono and pants) made….of pure silk. Anita was the main lady…spoke extremely good English with no accent. Her helper started to show us off wrapped in saris (they take 7 metres of fabric). They were absolutely beautiful but no one bought. They also had scarves and carpets etc, etc. The smell on the street was pretty bad today (a number of us put on masks for breathing) although the sun did come out and disbursed the fog. By this time my knees and feet had had enough so Jeanette and I caught a tuk-tuk back to the hotel. The rest walked. Again I never had “dinner”. If I don’t lose weight I will be totally surprised. I tried to send a message from McDonald’s to my kids that I had arrived safely but I don’t think it went.
In the newspaper”Selfie kills youth”. It is apparent that a number of people have died as a result of getting too close to the edge in different locations while taking selfies. I don’t remember hearing of anything like that at home???
Again no one is here to share with me. Pam spoke to them at the desk yesterday. Incase, she is saying do not give them a credit card and to pay for incidentals with cash. I paid already, I am not paying single supplement.
Today I don’t feel like walking or touring. I wouldn’t mind having a massage. Nine of us decided to take a couple of taxis with tour guide, to show us around. First we went to see the Hindu Krishna Temple. No pictures allowed inside. Lots of gods in this religion, Brahman, Vishnu and about 6 others. From there we went to the mini Taj Mahal….huge not really mini at all but considerably smaller than…… It is not a lot of white marble but predominately red sandstone. Beautiful grounds….the same on each of the four sides….with pools and narrow canals. The doors are carved from single piece rock. Amazing. We passed by the India Gate but because of preparation for Republic Day on the 26th and the treat of terrorism, it was not open to the public….lots of cops and military. We then were taken to Chandni Chowk (not sure of that spelling), to the spice market and to the wholesale spice market where no cameras were to be used) , men slogging huge heavy loads like you wonder how they can carry them or push, alleyways and rickshaws and masses and masses of people, some cows at the beginning, overhead wires hanging like spaghetti in a pile, sections that were strictly sari sales, bangles, rickrack and accessories for making of clothes, monkeys on the overhead wires, into a mosque off the street, shoes off, shoes on, thought my phone was gone at one point, then forgot my Nordic poles, vehicles honking, insanity to the extreme. It is amazing that there are no accidents either between vehicles or people’s or animals. Generally nice featured people, mild mannered, no aggression that was noticeable…. surprising seeing as what they’d were having to deal with. I guess it is all a matter of what you are used to. Just the biggest Oh My God!!! How can people live like this? The noise is deafening wherever you go. The hoards of people everywhere. I’ll just keep saying it is insanity but it seems to work. Amazing and crazy and to this point, the highlight!