Saturday was something of a write-off. I managed to scribble some nonsense on postcards, and in the evening made it back to Delhi, where I found two drivers waiting for me. One from the hotel, the other from the High Commission waiting to take me to a different hotel for a meal, and then back to the airport for a flight. Since my flight wasn’t for another 28 hours that was going to be a long meal. We surmised it was more likely that he’d simply not been told of the change of plan (which was, in itself, a misunderstanding based on multiple people not appearing to realise that the date changes at midnight). So I went with the first guy.
Sunday, then: Oooooh, that was fun. My ‘car+driver’, arranged through the travel office at the high commission, turned out to be a car+driver and government-registered tour guide. I thought it’d been a bit pricey for just a car, but it’s hard to do the value conversion and I’d wondered if I was simply being charged a foreigners’ rate. Besides, it still wasn’t what you’d call pricey.
VK, my guide, turned out to be a dryly witty and full of all the knowledge you’d expect after ten years in the job. Being shown around a city by somebody who knows it backwards is a rare privilege. Perhaps it’s normal for people who always stay in five-star hotels and are whisked around in chauffeured Mercedes, but for the likes of me it’s a rare thing.
We rattled through Qutb, the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Gandhi’s cremation site at Raj Ghat, a precarious but astonishing rickshaw spin through Old Delhi, and quick trips to the imposing India Gate and the (also Lutyens-designed) government buildings of New Delhi. It could have been a bit breakneck, but VK’s timely stories saved me the overhead of rifling through the guidebook, and I’m more than willing to trust his judgement on which bits were worth spending my limited time on.
I’ll write more when my photos are back from the developer (yes, I’m still an old-fashioned film guy). In the meantime I should probably write something pithy and insightful about the relative merits of seeing a town like Delhi with a guide vs. discovering it by oneself. However, getting back to Glasgow took a heck of a long time and I’m utterly knackered, so you’ll just have to imagine that part of this post.
Home. Mmm. I had beans on toast. Mmm.
Delhi already seems like a long time ago, and a long way away. One of these is true, which is curious because they seem equally real.