Continued from Delhi Day 2 Part 2.
First, some photos from last night.
After that long overwhelming day, I needed a beer to wind down. What better choice than an Indian beer. Actually, I wasn’t given a choice. The guy at my hotel asked if I wanted a beer, I said yes, and he handed this to me. Sure did hit the spot though.
Ordered chicken korma and vegetable curry from the hotel. I was tired and my hotel is located in a residential area so I didn’t want to go out in the dark by myself looking for food. It just didn’t feel safe enough to me and I didn’t want to deal with whatever hassle I might encounter. Anyhow, I am sure this food was made by a kitchen that caters to all the hotels in the area. The food was actually delicious! It was much better than what I had for lunch.
My name is Sheela
Sheela ki jawani
I’m too sexy for you
Those lyrics are now stuck in my head. I was singing it this morning…I may have to download the song. Don’t tell anyone, I am embarrassed. I am sure this is like the Brittany Spears of India.
Now, back to today.
My plan is to take it easy today. I killed it out there yesterday, and I need to recover a little bit today. Plus, I’ve got big plans for tomorrow, so I’ll save my energy today for a good effort tomorrow. I ate a late breakfast, and while I ate, I blogged like a fiend. I am ashamed to say that it took me close to 5 hours yesterday to compile all of my photos and write everything down. Everyone always tell me that I should be out seeing stuff instead of on my computer, but the reality is that my body can only do so much in one day. Not to mention, I’ve got a long trip ahead, so I need to treat my body well.
Breakfast at the hotel. Again, very good! I prefer this over the potato pancake breakfast that I had yesterday. I also struck up conversation with another guy who is also staying at my hotel. He’s a younger guy, maybe just a few years older than me. He’s American and went to school in Delhi for a semester and gave me all sorts of tips about where to visit here in Delhi. He is even more anal than me about food sanitation. He refuses to eat anything that has touched water and not cooked afterwards. If a drink has a slice of lemon on it, he will send it back. Can I fill up my hot water heater with bottled water and take a shower with that?
I left the hotel at around noon.
A rickshaw driver approached me soon after I left the hotel and asked where I was going. I said that I was going to catch the subway just down the street. He offered to drive me to Connaught Place station where I would need to make a connection. I said that I don’t want to pay a lot and would only give him 12 INR(that’s all the coins in my pocket). He agreed. Then I told him that I didn’t want him asking me for more money once I get to my destination. He agreed, and said that I was his first client today. I got on, and 10 seconds later, he pulls out the map and starts telling me about how we can go to the metro station, but first we need to stop by this shop.
I told him to pull over and let me out right now and give me my 12 INR back. He reluctantly agreed, but did in fact give me my money back. A lot of rickshaw drivers try to bring you to a shop and they get a commission out of it from the shop owner.
Back to original plan of walking to the station. The streets are crowded today. Shit! I got distracted by the rickshaw driver, and forgot to take more photos as hints to get back home. I hope I’ll be able to find my way back later today…
My first destination is a little bit of a ways out of central Delhi. I believe it was 12 stops from where I made my train connection.
At the subway station, they had this law enforcement officer barricaded behind sandbags. They can’t just build a real wall? And, what are they so worried about that they need to give him sandbags for protection?
My destination is far from the subway station, so I called a rickshaw. The driver approached me and asked where I was going. I told him the place(there is only one major tourist place here) and he said 50. I told him 30(according to Lonely Planet), then we settled on 40. Good.
I got in the rickshaw and then I see one of his colleagues ushering two other passengers(locals) into MY rickshaw who were also going to the same spot. Fuck, I’ve been had. I paid the price of having my own rickshaw but now I’ve got to share with two others. I have to admit, that was a nice bait and switch.
Got dropped off. I paid my 40, didn’t feel like making a scene. But then I purposely waited around to see how much the two locals would pay. As I waited, the driver looked at me inquiringly, and I told him I just wanted to see how much money the two other local passengers are handing over. It turns out that they paid 30 each. My driver said that I was the first passenger, and that’s why I paid 40. I call BS. I paid 40 because I am a foreigner who was just too lazy to argue and make a scene. Ah, the adventures of rickshaw riding in India for a foreigner continues.
I see the audio guide booth, but not the ticket booth. Hmmm. I walked up to the security check, and asked where the ticket booth was. The lady standing at the gate said to just pay here. It was 250 INR like all the other major tourist sites that I’ve visited here in Delhi. I took out two 100 INR bills and handed it over, then started digging around for the 3rd 100 INR bill. The lady then handed me a ticket stub and just waved me to go in. Sweet. I can’t believe someone actually went the other way and gave me a break!
It was shady though. The ticket that I got was an used stub, and not the regular full ticket. What’s the catch? Then I saw that others got their tickets the same way, so I figured I won’t worry about it. I’ve already made it into the grounds and saved 50 INR.
I didn’t get an audio guide, so I have no idea on the significance of anything. Audio guides usually go too slow for me and at the end, I end up listening to something I really don’t care that much about.
Yup, the photos are never perfect. The woman who took my photo did try very hard though. She even halfway laid down on the ground just to get the right angle to get the whole minaret in the photo. But, apparently she laid down at a crooked angle. Sigh. I guess I could always just rotate and crop…
OK, that was that. Frankly, Qutub Minar was just ok. I needed to come out here and see it for myself, but considering how much effort it took to get out here, it was barely worth it.
I exited the Qutub Minar grounds and called a rickshaw. I said that I wanted to go to the metro station. He said 50, but I lied and told him I only paid 30 on the way here. He agreed, and when we started driving, he said that we need to drop by a shop first. I told him to either drop me off right now or accept my 30 INR with no detour to the shop. He reluctantly agreed to no detour.
And, my rickshaw driver drives around a traffic circle and right back to where he picked me up. WTF! He gets out of the rickshaw, speaks to another guy, and the other guy gets in and takes over. That was strange. I told the new guy that I am only paying 30 to the metro station, to which he agrees. This new guy doesn’t seem to be as out going or as fluent in English as the first guy. My guess is that the first guy is the guy who stays around to hustle passengers. When the passengers are unwilling to give in to visit a shop, another driver takes over whose purpose is to actually drive. That’s my theory anyway.
So, the new guy starts driving me. He was really quiet for a long time, then finally he works up the courage to ask me where I am from. Then he tried to sell me on the idea of taking me to a shop and that I would only need to stay there for 20 minutes. I politely decline. This new guy seemed really nice, and he was more uncomfortable asking me to shop than me telling him again that I didn’t want to.
A few minutes of silence went by, and out of curiosity, I decided to ask him what kind of commission he gets if I went to the shop. He said that he doesn’t get any monetary commission but instead will get a liter of natural gas to power the rickshaw. Then he played the sympathy card and asked again if I wanted to go to the shop. I refused, yet again, but told him that since he alleviated my curiosity, I’d give him another 10 INR. He was pretty happy about that and as was I to get my question answered.
12 or so stops later, I was back to Connaught Place.
Now, I am thirsty and went back for a drink. Oh yeah, guava juice, my favorite! While waiting in line to order my drink, I got cut by another Indian guy. This happens to me at almost every single line that I wait in. Some aggressive guy will always jostle with me for position in the line. It’s almost always a guy who is half my size too! We’d position against each other during the whole wait then as we both approach the cashier, he would cut in front of me and wave the money in the cashiers face while saying what it is that he wanted to order. I’ve been beat every single time. Sigh. If only I spoke the language, then I too could wave the money and say what I want instead of wave the money but have to point at what I want.
The shops here are very Western. It’s basically an outdoor shopping mall. I saw more tourists here than anywhere else that I’ve been. Why are all the tourists here? I guess maybe the same reason why I am here, to try and find a place to eat. This is the least Indian of all the places that I’ve visited. You can find most of these same shops anywhere in the world.
Well, I failed at navigation by sun. Connaught Place is a big circle and I was trying to find the Northwest quadrant by using my shadow. That didn’t work, so let me take out my sextant, and by that I mean it’s time for iPhone GPS.
But first, why am I eating at McDonald’s? Several reasons. My first choice was closed. I am really hungry. I wanted to eat something that won’t make me ill for tomorrow. Lastly, I wanted to check out what the local menu is like for a McDonald’s in India.
I got the Chicken Maharaja Mac! I had to sneak this photo in, but it’s basically a big mac with chicken maharaja patties. There were 3 security guards here in McDonald’s doing who knows what. I do know they don’t allow photos, but I am not sure why they need such tight security in a McDonald’s. Anyhow, as expected the food was mediocre at best, but come on, isn’t it funny that I had a Chicken Maharaja Mac in Delhi!?
Overall, a pretty slow day but that’s OK. I get to come home, blog, eat dinner, and rest early.
To be continued at Agra Part 1.