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Getting Around Delhi The Hard Way

Kelly on the bus in Delhi, India

Kelly on the bus in Delhi, India

As if travelling around Delhi was not crazy enough per se, we did our best to make it even wilder… Arriving at 05:30 am by train from Ajmer, we thought it a good idea to take the metro to our hotel.

In the darkness we dragged our suitcases through the usual ramble of vehicles and people. The first open counter we saw was besieged by hundreds of people. We immediately decided to call off the metro-plan, but found an empty ticket counter twenty meters away. God knows what this other place was selling. What we did not expect was the metro being so crowded during the wee hours.

Neither of us remembered the station where to change trains and getting a map out without being able to move was not an option. Stations are announced in Hindi and English, but not knowing the name, what help was that? Luckily we somehow picked up the word “blue” (we remembered the hotel was on the blue line) and we fought our way out. Once in Karol Bagh we were besieged by bicycle rickshaws, gave in and the guys pedaled off not really knowing where to… With a lot of help from pedestrians they finally got us to our hostel.

Such tiny success stories lifted our fatigue and we immediately set out to show Kelly what we thought were Delhi’s three highlights. Such an undertaking usually required some cash, which we did not have anymore. Delhi’s metro system is plastered with ATM machines, but our frantic search for one that functioned was futile. Kelly had some Euros left so we spent some of our last Rupees on a TukTuk to Khan Market, the place to change money. Kelly haggled with the moneychangers like a pro. As a reward we took her to MacDonald’s. Yes, we did!

Having successfully visited all the places we aimed for, the trip back to the hotel became another story. In broiling afternoon temperatures Heidi and Kelly got lost. From the metro stop they walked off in the wrong direction, leading away from the hotel whose address they did not remember. Eventually a young Indian realized their desperate look. He thought walking around in this part of Delhi was not wise and asked them where their driver was. The area seemed perfectly fine to Heidi and Kelly and it was clear that figured middle class Indian have their own standards. A driver? We ignored that question, feeling odd to admit that we had none and travelled on public transport.

On his smart phone he looked up our hotel – luckily Heidi remembered the name – called them and gave us for directions, “Follow the pillars supporting the metro-line running above to number 123 and then turn right”. This was so unique that we remembered easily. Further we had to promise not to except any food, drinks and certainly not get into a car. Surrounded by maddening traffic and a pavement full of parked cars we did make our way home. Gilles leisurely was waiting at the hotel. He had not worried about our whereabouts.

Kelly never whined during this odyssey, just the opposite, she seemed to enjoy the challenge and proved travel-fit for any trip to come.


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