Continued from Delhi Day 5, Holi.
Today started by me having breakfast in the lounge area while watching TV news report that over 100 people got seriously ill from color poisoning. Sometimes the colors are made with toxic materials and people get sick from it. Nice…parts of my body are still pink from the powder soaking through. I’ll glow in the dark by later tonight. We also saw some piles of color with what seems like glass shard in them. I think it was just flakes of gypsum, but I can’t be sure.
I called the girls this morning, but they had already left their hotel room. They were supposed to call me at around lunch time for us to all meet for lunch if possible. That is if they can find a phone or use email at around lunch time. 12:00 rolled by and no call, so it was time for me to go out in search of food. I had seen most of my top sights in Delhi and I caught up on a lot of blogging this morning while I waited.
And it also has an escalator. This is a nice area. The young guy right in front of me asked if I wanted him to move out of the photo as I took my first photo. I said that he didn’t have to. That’s nice of him.
Well, I got above ground and no signage. I guess I’ll just follow where most people are walking towards. Eventually I asked a lady walking next to me and she said I was indeed going the right direction.
Here’s Khan Market. It was just a bunch of international stores. It was here that I ran into the guy who was on the escalator who asked if I wanted him to move out of the photo. We struck up a conversation, and I asked him where I should go eat Indian food in this area. He told me that the place to eat is actually not in Khan Market but I had to walk a bit of a way. I asked if he could show me, and he gladly agreed.
AP lives in one of the compounds here around Lodhi Garden, you know, the politicians enclave. I was initially kind of apprehensive about him because I am so used to getting scammed here in Delhi. But after talking to him for a while, I decided that he was the real deal just based on our conversation topics.
We walked by AP’s house and he said that Bianca Gandhi(she was a candidate in the current election, but I believe she lost) lived next door to him. If you look in the photo, you can see that there are two guard tower to the compound on the left of the photo. The guard gave me a little trouble about the photo, then AP talked to them and said that it was ok because I was just taking a photo of his house. I blurred out the house number in the photo for some privacy. But seriously, if someone wanted to find out where a famous politician lived, it’s not too hard.
AP and I sat around the metro station and just hung out for a bit. Actually, including lunch, we ended up talking for maybe 2 hours. I am a few years older than him, and I could see so much of my younger self in him. Two guys from two different parts of the world, both from privileged families, and both have very similar worries and concerns about life. I think the chat was beneficial to the both of us.
Sidenotes. At one point, AP used the word esoteric. I told him that he will not believe how many American will not know the meaning of that word. AP had spent Holi with just having some friends over at their house. Not everyone goes crazy during Holi.
Gandhi Smirti. This is where Gandhi was assassinated. Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life living in this compound that belongs to an Indian business family. The compound has now been turned into a museum. This is still in the Lodhi Garden area.
I went back to the hotel, and saw that I had received an email from the girls. I called their hotel and was finally able to reach them. Our plan is to eat at the restaurant that CS recommended for us. Since without cell phones, it would be almost impossible for us to meet somewhere, I decided to meet them at their hotel.
I walked out of my hotel and walked up to a rickshaw. I asked the driver how much to the girls’ hotel. The driver said 20. I said BS, I don’t want to go shopping. Then the driver said, fine, then 50. So, I said I would only pay 20. Hahaha. With great reservation, I got into the rickshaw. I hope this isn’t some new scam that I am not prepared for. The driver had his friend ride with him in the front too. Ugh, I hope they don’t take me somewhere dark and rob me. It was really busy on the street, so I wasn’t too concerned yet. I could always jump out.
We drove for a bit, then the driver got out, his friend took over and the driver sat in the back with me and tried to talk to me. I kept my responses short and I could tell he was trying to get me to go to a tourist office. Since I had been to the girls’ hotel many times by now, I knew we were more or less headed in the right direction. The guy kept on chatting me up, and at one point asked how much my watch was. I lied to him and said $50. Then he said if he gave me a new watch, would I sell my watch to him. Of course I declined.
Finally, we reached the area of the hotel, and they wanted to drop me off a few streets away. I told them that we had an agreement that they would drop me off at the hotel so I didn’t have to walk around and look for it. They hesitantly agreed and finally dropped me off in front of the hotel. I got out and paid 20INR. That was not a short ride and 20INR was a fucking bargain and almost worth all the discomfort I had to deal with from the driver.
When I arrived at their hotel, SW and HB were trying to book a flight for tomorrow. They were pretty stressed out because they were having some difficulties booking online. Then the hotel front desk said that they can get them tickets, but the girls were really apprehensive about it, and understandably so.
SW and HB went out sightseeing today. At one point, they befriend some guy who claimed that he was from Utah. Well, one thing led to another, and they were at the “official” tourist office about to pay $1200 each for a whole package deal where they would have train, hotels and flights for the next week or two. They were trying to haggle with them, but the whole situation just felt wrong. They left to go outside to get away, and the people inside followed them out and kept on “accidentally” running into them and tried to get them to go back. Then the guy from Utah also accidentally bumped into them in the same area. They felt trapped, dodged into an internet cafe, and eventually got into a pedicab and got out there.
So back at the hotel, it took the staff a long time to convince SW and HB that their tickets purchased through the hotel would be the real deal. I thought that the tickets would be good because the hotel had a reputation to keep. The girls had also checked prices online, and the hotel’s quoted prices were basically the same. It was finally decided that they would just book through the hotel.
This whole ordeal took up enough time that it was now too late for us to go 14km out of town to eat at the place that CS suggested. We decided to just eat at this other restaurant that they had already on their first night here. They raved about it.
New Delhi Station is just down the road. I can see that this is a rough area on a typical day, so therefore, all the people we met during Holi was of the lower socioeconomic class. There’s constant car honking, dogs barking and other noises in the area. I wouldn’t be able to sleep with all the noise if I had a hotel here. SW had trouble sleeping in this area for two nights due to the barking dogs. And this is even with earplugs.
This street food cart offered us some free fried potatoes to try. I was too afraid to try since I’ll be stuck in a train all day tomorrow. The girls were more adventurous since they’ll have nice airplane and airport toilets to use if they got sick.
The restaurant is located at the top of this seemingly fancy hotel. I believe it’s only 2000INR a night here. So $40 a night. The hotel itself looks nice, but right outside, it’s “Cluster Fuck!” with constant honking and noise. India is just pure sensory assault, nonstop.
We were the only customers. Even though this whole area is lined with hotels, we saw almost no other tourists. I think this is the tail end of the winter tourist season. The next wave of tourists arrive when all the student backpackers show up during the summer.
Dinner was very good! Towards the end, we all got really tired. The girls were pretty jetlagged. At some point tonight, we had talked about what we all did today. The girls saw Red Fort, almost overpaid for tours and saw Gandhi Smirti. They said that they saw the fire at Gandhi Smirti. I asked, “What fire?” Then we realized that we had gone to different places. I think the girls went to the place by Red Fort where Gandhi was cremated and not where he was assassinated.
One last goodbye photo before we head in different directions tomorrow. The girls allegedly bought a flight(still waiting to hear confirmation from hotel) to Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama resides. I will take a train from Delhi to Varanasi. Our paths might cross again in India in Rajasthan or in Mumbai. If not, then Austin!! I am going to miss having my friends here with me!
To be continued at Train to Varanasi.