First impressions of India – Our time in New Dehli

Before booking this trip neither of us had planned to visit India, but our STA agent convinced us we’d enjoy it and it’s on the way to where we want to go so why not. Our idea of India – Delhi in particular – was based on documentaries we’d seen on TV and vague information passed on from friends. We knew it was going to be hectic and warm but we had no idea how that would make us feel.

When we landed at the airport it was 3:15am local time (9:45pm back home) which was 16 hours and two flights since we left home. As you can imagine we were exhausted and emotional, ready to go straight to sleep after a long day. We definitely weren’t ready for the confusion of trying to book an Uber, losing internet connection and missing the driver, bartering with a random taxi driver over a fare, arriving at the hotel only to argue with him over a new fare, and checking in to a rough around the edges hotel with at least one stain on every bit of fabric in the place. Thankfully we were only staying for six hours before moving on to the next place.

On the following day we walked to the metro station and got first hand experience of being a tourist in a hectic city where everyone wants you in their taxi. The train was a delightful respite from all of the traffic and car horns and made the trip to Lajpat Nagar a breeze.

If our stay in Delhi had simply carried on like this I’m pretty sure neither of us would have said we liked the place at all. It’s only when we met up with Mark’s old university friend and were taken to a rooftop bar for cocktails that we realised that our budget travel choices had landed us in an area that Ankan himself would rarely venture into.

After spending the evening catching up and getting a little drunk we began feeling a lot more relaxed about the place. It’s too easy to think you’re seeing what a city is like when you’ve only witnessed a small, congested, loud part of it. Ankan and his wife Madhvi invited us to their home for a party the following evening and we got to see the quieter, greener side of Dehli.

On the evening of the party we spent hours chatting about the similarities and vast differences between our cultures. As we’re all in the design industry there are a huge amount of parallels between our daily lives, but it’s the details which separate us entirely. You’d be here for hours if I went into all of that, but hopefully Mark will get around to writing about it soon.

The day after the party we were treated to a tour of some of our hosts’ favourite spots, including a bar which served us iced tea in small plastic bathtubs. We spent the day being driven around by the lovely Madhvi and looking at tourist attractions from a distance to avoid getting stuck in the crowds. In the afternoon we ate the best butter chicken I’ve ever tasted at Moti Mahal Delux which sent us all into a sleepy state, but it was well worth it.

It’s been so good having friends to show us around and tell us all about the cultures surrounding us, from religions to manners and all the fun stuff in between. I don’t think we could thank Ankan and Madhvi enough so I really hope we can host them in the future when we have a home in Manchester.

Today we’re moving on to Agra, squeezing a trip to Red Fort in beforehand and hoping we get back in time to checkout from our Airbnb. I’m definitely going to miss Dehli and I’d certainly not cross it off my list of places to return to in the future.

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