Delhi day one

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Well, we got in Sunday night late – about 1145 or so by the time we got to our room. We had been warned of scams at the airport where taxi drivers tell you that you can’t got to Hotel X because it burned down yesterday, or where they say they will call to confirm before taking you to your nominated hotel and they are actually calling a fellow scammer who says that they have no reservation. All to get the driver a meager commission for taking you to their cousin’s or friends establishment. So we pre-booked a pickup with our hotel. It is not salubrious, but it is fine for a few days of sightseeing and in the Karol Bagh neighborhood near two metro stations.

We had a nice sleep in, then an included breakfast. Eggs, potatoes, paratha bread and more were on offer. There was a selection of hot and spicy looking dishes that I could not identify. An Indian man seated next to us was showing around a travel writer from NY and chatted with us when the writer left the dining room. He had a cauliflower filled paratha bread on a plate that the kitchen had just served to him. He asked if we wanted to try some so we did. It was divine. Freshly made flat bread cooked on a hot plate. The raw cauliflower inside is finely chopped up so as to almost be a paste once all warmed through. The whole thing was simple and savory and peppery. Much better than the rather cardboard-like variety on breakfast buffet!

We headed out after brekky, ready to attempt the metro and go to the Red Fort. It’s probably just a few hundred meters to the metro station so we made our way through the local neighborhood which is short on footpath but big on construction hazards, taxis, motorcycles, cycle-rickshaws and auto-rickshaws. One driver had stopped and was outside of his vehicle and greeted us. We were wary of being scammed but he turned out to be a nice guy with good English. We chatted and he told us that the Red Fort was closed on Mondays and he could suggest other places we might want to visit. As we had a few in mind and mentioned them, I guess he figured we were somewhat prepared.

We agreed a price for Humayun’s Tomb and headed that way through the throng of traffic with our new best friend Lakhan. He really is a good driver and decent bloke with whom we ended up spending the rest of the day going on to an Arts India craft workshop, lunch, then India Gate. While discussing our day sitting in the back of the rickshaw, Lakhan spotted the tea boy. So, I had my first chai on the street today and it was nothing like the frothy, sickly sweet blend of stuff I have tasted in Australia and elsewhere. It was just black tea with sweetened condensed milk. It was sweet, yes, but not all fussed up with cardamon and vanilla and frothed milk. This was simple and warming and shared with our charming driver Lakhan – just sitting in the parking area of India Gate surrounded by the touts and the teenagers and the family groups and vendors. It was a lovely moment of peace in little plastic cup.

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Above: External window at tomb

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Above: Foyer doorway at tomb

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Above: at India Gate there were many sellers of snack food. This was grilled spiced sweet potato with sliced star fruit and lime juice, a winter treat on the streets of Delhi. We had just eaten so missed out.

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