I might have thought it was doubtful that I would know where I was, much less who I was or find my travel companions after arriving so late last night. But it was far to easy to spot them all at breakfast. Middle aged +, caucasian, reasonably dressed with that look of seasoned travelers. As it turns out – the group wound up being 16 with all but three on their third or later trip with this particular (OAT) travel organization. Six solos and five couples with the usual of trend of being married 37, 39, 54 years etc.
Our guide is an interesting young man with a BA in history and an MA in tourism. Recently married (Dec, arranged) this is his first trip since his wedding. As his wife doesn’t speak English, being from a rather small town, it is not like we can reassure her that he will be far to busy keeping track of this group to either spend a lot of time on the phone or get into any kind of trouble.
First impressions: Delhi as a whole is huge (17 million), crowded and has absolutely no traffic rules that anyone pays any attention to at all. Lines in the road, if they exist, seem to be a challenge to drivers etc to cram as many vehicles across as is possible with regards only to the thickness of the paint on the sides. Buses, bicycle rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, mopeds, motorcycles, trucks, cars, bike-trucks, all share the road with abandon with pedestrians treating street/highway crossing as the death defying challenge that it is.
Delhi is older – 16/17th Century and built by various Moguls. New Delhi was started in 1856 by the British who needed to establish control with their own style and requirements superimposed.
Seeing the city from the bus was a challenge, taking a bicycle-rickshaw ride after stopping at the largest Mosque was even more so. (Indian is 80%+ Hindu, ~ 16% Muslim, and small percents of numerous other countries. For a mess even larger than they made in Iraq, think of the British partition of Sub-Asia into India and Pakistan to divide the countries along the Muslim/Hindu religious lines. Talk about a mess and border conflict that continues to this day….)
We also walked through a few of the markets – altho pushing and shoving might have a better description. If I counted right, there are a couple of shoppers in our group… In old Delhi the shops seem to be divided as is common along merchandise lines. We were in the formal wear, glitter, bling, fancy fabric and wedding clothes areas.
We stopped at India Gate before proceeding to dinner and back to the hotel. Similar to such memorials everywhere, there is a military guard 24/7 in honor of those that died in service (90,000 in WWI fighting under the British…..). The other monument in the area no longer has the 22 ft statue of King George for obvious reasons….
and now the photos: