What a day! We checked in early to enjoy the full experience of the Virgin Clubhouse in Heathrow – and had a haircut and pork belly for dinner, all included in the Upper Class experience. What a difference to “normal” air travel, and a great start to our holiday 🙂 I am sure Iain will look with disdain at flying any other way now – the experience with free food, huge comfortable lounges and a seat that turns into an actual bed with duvet and pillow is indeed hard to beat!
One in New Delhi, the first thing we noticed is the fog . Haze. Smog. According to the forecast, it is meant to be sunny, but it is just hazy to perhaps 200m visibility. Brown, smelly soup that tastes of burnt tires is how Iain describes it, and it’s spot on.
On the streets, it is much like the India I know: busy, busy, busy, and loads of garbage everywhere you look. But everyone being so nice and friendly too, it’s definitely not a “hostile” kind of busy.
The Metropolitan is a very nice hotel, but not quite as well organized as hoped. They didn’t know that we needed to sleep 3 people and I hope that is not a sign of things to come – but they quickly sorted that out, thankfully.
After a short nap, dinner in the local Indian restaurant was great; our first curry. I had Tikka Masala, and enjoyed it hugely 🙂
Then off to see the relatives in Old Delhi, where Mamta’s dad Mahavir was born and grew up. Subzi Mandi is a part of town that looks and feels quite different from what we saw in New Delhi: narrow streets, throngs of people, market stalls with fresh produce everywhere, and shops specializing in everything from shoelaces to… Well, you name it. A huge, busy mass of humanity describes it well, I think!
The relatives were lovely; we met about 20 of them I think and there were super friendly, really enjoyed meeting them. We risked having some chawel (rice), and hope it will be ok – it certainly was well tasty! Got to speak to Ricky, who spent 8 months in London until May and really wants to go back – works as a programmer for Tata Consulting on the Lloyds TSB web site. Super nice guy 🙂
A long discussion later and then a trip to the streets – for everyone! – to find a data SIM for the iPhone so we can have Internet. It is possible to get this, even at 9pm on a Sunday, but the cards apparently take 5-6 days to get activated! That is a while and I will try to find a Vodafone shop tomorrow and see if I have more luck. Until then, we cut one of Ricky’s SIM cards to fit the iPhone, so now have a local phone number, yay 🙂
We also got presents – a really nice shirt, tie, cufflinks and handkerchief for me, and lots of stuff for Mamta and Aruna. Iain got a big basket of sweets that I’m sure he’ll enjoy. Oh, and money too! Definitely too much! And finally, we all got a red dot on the forehead, Indian style.
I learned a few Hindi words, which I have now forgotten 🙁 and learned about greetings for elders, kids, etc. Bottom line is that a) it is complicated, b) the family helps out with directions, c) it involves touching of legs, feet and hair in particular ways, and d) everyone ends up having a laugh. Clearly the rituals are important, but everyone is understanding of n00bs too 🙂
Now back at the hotel, relaxing. We decided to get a couple of half bottles of whiskey to both try some new ones and to give a little help to the digestive system, and tonight tried the Balvennie whiskey. Yum, I’m sure it will help.
Oh, and there were at least 5 power cuts just today! That is a bit scary, particularly when you are in the lift, but I suppose we’ll get used to it. The locals don’t seem to notice 🙂
Big day tomorrow, can’t wait to see more of the city t I have to think of as the Big Stink 🙂