Arrival in Delhi

The flight to Delhi was much shorter, at a little over 3 hours, we both skipped the breakfast offered and tried to get some sleep.

Arriving in Delhi, there was slight delay while our plane was lined up with the terminal building. After queuing at immigration we moved to on collect our luggage. Our bags were already out on the carousel by the time we arrived there and we then braced ourselves to find the driver that our pre-booked hotel said they would send.

The arrivals hall was surprisingly quiet for 10.30am on a tuesday morning. We were not terribly surprised to find that the promised taxi was not there so Vic went to the pre-paid taxi booth and got us a taxi to the hotel for Rs250 (just over 3 pounds).

The taxi was our first real experience of Delhi. The car itself was pretty old and beaten up, a classic old Ambassador type. Now the traffic system in India is difficult to describe. Total chaos on first inspection, with a rough “drive on the left” rule and roundabouts being a free-for-all with the largest vehicle getting right of way. No one seems to collide, thought the state of most vehicles would indicate that collisions are far from rare. The noise of the cars, autorickshaws and mopeds all hooting their horns is tremendous. The horn is the default control on any vehicle. Want to turn? Sound the horn! Want to overtake or slow down? Sound the horn! Want to announce that you are on the road? Sound the horn! There don’t seem to be any lanes, moped riders rarely wear helmets, and a family of 5 will fit on a moped. Then there’s the animals. Cattle wander freely, often sitting down in the middle of the road while traffic roars around them. There were pigs, goats and dogs running loose down the side (and middle) of the road. Bullocks, oxen and horses pulled carts. Joining this throng were cycle rickshaws often holding 4 or more people.

After half an hour or so, the taxi turned down a side street close to New Delhi railway station, and pulled up outside our hotel, Hotel Ajanta. We weren’t expecting too much, given the failure to send a taxi, and the hotel didn’t seem to have any idea we were coming. We were given room on the fourth floor but a couple of minutes in the was enough; the room stank of burnt carpet from a large hole in one corner, the only window was about 1ft square and the room was thus very gloomy. We popped down to reception and were offered a new room, this time on the third floor with a large window. That was a vast improvement so we settled into rest after the journey. We were so tired the only thing we did for the rest of that day was pop down to the great little restaurant attached to the hotel, Cafe Vagabond, for an excellent veg thali (costing about Rs60, which is 75 pence each). A bottle of drinking water was Rs10, about 12 pence, for a litre.

The hotel also has an internet cafe, costing just Rs20 per hour, with access being quite fast. The keyboards and mice are a bit flakey, and on a couple of occasions the other sort of mouse, small brown and furry one, made an appearance next to the screen.

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