Cows Storms and New Delhi Police

Well I’m here! The transfer from the airport to my hotel in Delhi was eventful in itself… I got in and went to put the seatbelt on but it was only attached at one end, so I just held on to it, and the driver offered me a cigarette, saying that ‘smoking is nice, cigarettes are good…’ Then he swerved off into the night, cackling, dodging open truckloads of turbaned old men and gangs of cows lazing about on the pavements. Then there was a tropical storm which at first was a welcome relief to the heat, but we had to close the windows after a few minutes in case the van flooded… then the sky started flashing white in a very threatening sort of way, but the driver didn’t seem worried so I assumed this kind of thing was normal.
Unfortunately although English is supposed to be an official language, it isn’t very widely spoken, so I found myself nodding along as the hotel owner gave me some information about Delhi… I managed to catch the words ‘Do not listen to the cheaters, they are very bad people who will say they are your friend but their words are poison. They are poisonous.’ I didn’t really want to leave the hotel after this, for fear of being immediately jumped as I set foot out of the door, but its quite a grim place so I thought I would go for a walk and find a cash point. The streets have two distinct smells, the first is spices which is quite nice, and the second is shit. Which isn’t nice at all. And there are so many people crammed onto each one, as well as constant reams of rickshaws and cars and carts of fruit, and even the odd cow.
After what seemed like an age of walking through all this, I finally came to what looked like a market, so I stopped to see if I could see an ATM. A few seconds later a man appeared behind me asking if I needed any assistance, so I asked if there was an ATM and he said he would show me, and that it would be ‘our pleasure’ which struck me as odd… but apparently it was across a main road and I didn’t fancy crossing it on my own. So we were stood waitnig, and he was asking me questions about England etc, saying ‘namaste’ and bowing, when this van full of policemen pulled up and the guy in front grabbed my new friends arm. The were speaking in Hindi for a while, and I thought they must be friends, when another policeman got out, came over to him, and out of nowhere smacked him in the face! Not a girly smack either, a big manly smack, and then another policeman got out of the van, and came up to me and I thought JESUS should I run away?!! But he just said ‘can I help you ma’am?’ So I stuttered something about a bank and he pointed across the road and said ‘this man is a bad man, he is a cheater,’ now pointing to the man who was still getting knocked about byt the other policeman. ‘Now go on, and don’t talk to anyone else on this street!’
Unfortunately, I still couldn’t find the cashpoint, and continued to wander round looking vulnerable and lost and sweaty. Then a rickshaw driver stopped and said ‘this is not a good street for walking..’ (apparently I was on Death Street or something)and don’t carry your bag like that, carry it in front.’ He seemed like a helpful sort of chap, so I got in and he took me to an ATM. Then to the tourist office, where a pompous man tried to sell me everything under the sun and claimed that all the public transport was full so I would need to pay for private chauffeurs if I wanted to ever leave Delhi, and that would cost me 200 pounds, but included an elephant ride apparently. Then Ashor, my driver, took me to a big red temple called Jama Masjid, and after this started chatting to me about Indian nightlife, and whether or not I wanted to go for a beer… and I thought ‘Oh brilliant, here we go…’ but he turned out to be very nice and refused to take more than 30 rupees (about 50p) off me for the ride.

And nowI’m off to do something touristy.

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