As friends and family wistfully bid farewell, we are about to be thrown into the depths of a continent were anything is possible and impossible. At the beginning the highs rolled in... kicking off with yours truly asking for and securing a free flight upgrade! The plane left bang on time and, as we luxuriated in our comfy chairs, even the stench of veggie biryani couldn't blot our skyscape (OMG we already can't look the stuff in the eye!) . The fact that my rucksack is bigger than me and that I already have bag rage also faded into insignificance.
Delhi airport wasn't a high - more like the Ok Coral!! Passport control was unsurprisingly out of control, queues stagnated in humid halls and that was before carousel hell. The senseless sensors don't allow more luggage until the conveyor belt has space. With passengers in the said queues nothing was gonna move!! Despite the hapless official, under my tutelage a group of sturdy anglophiles were commandeered to remove the luggage to free up space, so we could flee from bedlam and the airport. Within 2 hours I am already flouting bureaucracy, can India and I go hand in hand?
Don't believe the urban myths about Delhi either - there was no insurmountable hassle, no mountain of beggars, no holy cows or traces of their sacred dung. The driver came on time, the driving was ok (it was 2am after all). Even our super deluxe hotel was super fun. The Monty Pythonesque splattering shower could have you skidding all the way to Agra, the remote control self detonated, the scary electric plugs worked albeit pleadingly for a PAT tested Health & Safety Exec. Hard to second-guess what a standard room would be like.
HOWEVER - and this is a biggie - a low charged towards us and embarrassingly on day one! Yes we were caught in a typical tourist web of deceit - a cocktail of jet lag, 3 nights of non sleep and culture shock sure makes anyone easy prey in Delhi. Before you pass any judgement this could happen to you! Those tourist agency guys are smooth operators, with official Indian Tourist Board logos and credentials plastering their interiors and exteriors our simple request for a day sightseeing tour of Delhi transformed into a full scale tour of Rajasthan. Thankfully it pays to be cynical at times so our deposit was duly returned with a police bust up this morning. The policeman wanted toast and tea though before heading out and, rather than a snazzy sirened police car we arrived in glamour in an auto rickshaw. Watch this space though - the streetwise duo are wisening up at the rate of knots (forgive the pun!) Over and out from Delhi x