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Delhi

sunny 39 °C

Pushkar was another place I was sad to say goodbye to. It was cool and I really had a great time just hanging around, but twas time to buckle up and get my ass to Delhi! I had a mad taxi driver on the way to the station. He drove like a lunatic, even by Indian standards, and stopped abruptly to chastise and shout at other drivers along the way. He tailgated motorbikes and drove up on the path, broke a red light and was just generally a maniac. I was pretty glad to get out of that banger of a car alive.

My train to Delhi started superbly. As soon as I sat down, I was given free juice, sweets and bombay mix! Thereafter, at every stop at a station, we were all given more free food. :D There is not a lot more joyous than free food whilst travelling. :D After the next stop, I was given ''tomato'' (really??) soup and breadsticks. At the next stop, I was given a big thali, and after the next stop I got free ice cream. :D SCORE!

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As we were pulling into Delhi, the husband of the lady beside me, who had been faffing around in the next carriage, returned with half of his shirt torn off and dangling down. There also seemed to be some blood on the t shirt underneath his shirt!! There was a big kerfuffle in our carriage as his wife asked him ''What the hell happened to your shirt husband???''. (I assume... they were talking in Hindi).
His reply captivated the entire carriage and in true India style, the whole carriage gathered round to nosy parker in and see what happened. Everyone was standing up and exclaiming, clasping their hands to their mouths and asking him more questions. While his wife was mid gasp, I asked her what happened. She replied (with a lot of miming) that somone had tried to cut her husbands shirt open with a blade to get the rupees in his shirt pocket!! I was like.. WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTT???? Crazy!!! Surely if someone had that much time, they would have just stuck their hand in to his pocket quickly and grabbed the dosh. :/
Suddenly, the wife cried out ''It's tooo much!! the crime in Delhi - it's too much''..

YIKES!! All this as we are pulling into Delhi station at 10.30pm. Delhi, in the dark, on my own. Bollix. :D
What's one to do?? Except grab one's backpack and walk quickly and look as if you know where you're going.

Just as I was walking out of the station, I met an Israeli girl named Orit, who was dying for a fag (cigarette). We joined forces and swerved the tuk tuk touts and taxi touts and hopped on a cycle rickshaw as we knew we weren't going too far. Orit was good craic and we chatted away and decided to meet for coffee and breakfast in the morning.

We dropped Orit at her hotel and then my driver tried to drop me off at another hotel that wasn't mine. sigh...
I said ''OI YOU' - Kuldeep hostel please as I have already booked it!''.
So off we went again looking for my hostel. I dunno how we found it. It was down this tiny dark alleyway between shops and peoples' gaffs!
This small kid, wearing a bandana across his face (he looked like a highway robber) appeared and said ''which hotel?''.
I said ''Kuldeep'',
and he said ''Come this way'' and pointed off down and even darker smaller alleyway.
I was thinkin..." oh lord, I'm going to be robbed by a 12 year old!"
I exclaimed that it was too dark and I'd go back the other way.
But he said '' no problem, please - Kuldeep - this way!''
So I followed him into this small hotel reception, then out the door of that small hotel reception!! hmmm
We passed by people drinking tea in their houses, lads cooking something fried in big woks and then I followed him in the door of another small hotel reception. At this stage, I hadn't a clue which way we'd come or if we were even in Kuldeep as the sign over the door said ''New King Hostel''.
LOL.
So the conversation with this grumpy auld fella behind the desk goes like this..
Guy: what's your name
Me (suspiciously): leeeeeesa
him: where are you from
me (suspiciously): Ireeeelandddd?
him: You have a reservation?
Me: Yes Is this Kuldeep?
Him: Yes - do you have your reservation number
Me: eh yesssss... Is this really Kuldeep? It says something else on the door..
Him: (sighs, and shouts something into the background)

Then this fantastic fellow appears in the doorway and says ''Lisa?''.. I nodded.
He says: ''Lisa, why are you so suspicious?'' LOL
Then I cracked up.. apologised and explained how I was suspicious as someone had attempted to drop me off somewhere else earlier, and a kid had led me down a mad blind alley and in and out of various shops and hotel fronts along the way.
He was a very nice guy and asked me why I wanted to stay in a mixed hostel in India. I explained that I heard the hostel was good and there were lots of travellers about. He said if I wanted to share the 6 bed dorm with 5 other Indian lads I could, but if not I could have a room for the same price.

I took the room.

The room was grand and had a TV with English movies on it. Unfortunately the fan only went on in full blast mode. :/ After the AC on the train, the heat in Delhi and the full blast fan in the room, I got a stinking cold.

The next day I went to meet Orit anyways and we had a great time figuring out the Delhi Metro System!

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We went to Lodi Gardens which was full of young lovers hiding in the hedges, lovely old Mosquesque buildings and lots of little squirrels. We sat on the grass and discussed our respective countries and their fall from grace into trouble and recession.

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Orit was 42. She looked way younger! After the park, we went to the Delhi National Art gallery and onto a rooftop restaurant for dinner. While we were eating, a big parade came through the town with a marching band! This madness drove the two big cows in the square bonkers and we had a laugh watching them run towards people and blundering into stalls and bikes.
The parade also had a big truck with speakers attached to it and lots of holy men in it. This truck was being pulled along by 2 ropes. 1 rope was pulled by a load of men, the other was being pulled by women. This parade went on for about half an hour or so, after which we escaped to our hotels for a shower and rest before meeting back up later to go to the cinema and watch a Hindi (Bollywood) movie.
It was a comedy called Naatanki Sala (or something) and was easy enough to follow. The language of comedy is pretty universal. There were funny faces being pulled, guys falling into things and the odd few expressions in English. The popcorn was delicious and I was thoroughly enjoying this Indian movie experience. We decided to call it quits at the interval (THEY HAVE INTERVALS) as the cinema was freezing and my cold wasn't improving with it. Plus we could kind of tell what was going to happen.

The next day I went to say Ta Ra to Orit as she was flying home to Tel Aviv and I had to move on to my next hotel to meet my G adventures Trip group in Karol Bagh at 2pm. When I got here however, the opening meeting was postponed so I had a few hours to relax in my tres comfy hotel room, order a short cheese sandwich and watch Rush Hour on the TV. Bliss. :D

Posted by squeakylee 04:18 Archived in India Tagged hotel metro delhi movie bollywood lodi Comments (0)

Delhi part 2

Meeting the G Gang

sunny 37 °C

Our next tour group was led by a Dushyant, a very handsome, tall young Indian male model wearing Jodhpurs!
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Also on the trip were Jennifer and Steve - recently married.

Hannah - 32, UK, getting married, moving house and doing her trip of a lifetime all in the same few months! :0

Sam, 23 from oz - very brainy and bubbly Ozzie nurse out for 4 months travelling.
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Lindsey, gorgeous 23 year old from Canada. Lindsey is awesome - a bubblier, more positive person I've never met! (Reminds me of miss Donna Hayes!) Lindsey is out travelling for a year.
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Nick 29, hilarious young fellow from Norwich. Lives in London and works in politics, making policies.
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Next up Hugh & Stan, father and son fom Satchakewan (or something) in Canada. Sean is also a male model and is quite excited about the Buddhism part of our trip as he would like to become a Buddhist. Hugh is an accountant and is showing his son a bit of the world during this bonding session.
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Jeff and Maree, who you know from Udaipur. Great fun Ozzie couple, super fun and a great laugh.
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Sandra, 39, Texas - lovely bubbly American. Owns a gun and not afraid to use it! ;) Immersing herself in Indian culture and pretty much up for anything.
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Alison from Cambridge. Very nice gal on her hols from work and out to see some of India.
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Joe, mad yoke from the Phillippines. :)
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Kat, 27, Munich - my awesome roomie who is great fun and has superb English. Got along great with Kat! A better roommate I could not have asked for. :)
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And Me! Irish, talks too fast and has been extremely laid back this trip. In fact, I've only gotten irritated or cheesed off twice in the past 9 weeks. Score!
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So we had our intro meeting and then Dushyant brought us to a Sikh Temple where we volunteered in the kitchen rolling some Chapatis. These chapatis were less than perfect but were accepted with gusto none the less. Apparently the rounder your chappati, the better husband you'll get. uh oh.

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The Sikh temple gives out free meals to anyone of any race, religion, caste or creed, 3 times a day, every day of the year! (If ye'd any sense you'd build a house nearby to avail of these free meals, but that's not altogether in the right spirit of humanity!) All the food is donated and all the people working in the Temple are volunteering. It was very inspiring!

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Our dinner was a delicious thali and afterwards we went and sat in the temple and listened to the service for a while.

Later we were brought to the Gateway of India (closed at night) and off to Connaught Place for a wander around. Great day and Great new people! :)

Posted by squeakylee 00:20 Archived in India Tagged fun group delhi Comments (0)

Jaipur

The Pink City (it's more a terracotta colour really)

sunny 36 °C

So our trip didn't really include much of Delhi and we left first thing the next morning. I actually thought Delhi was a grand place. Very modern, big streets with actual pavements and traffic lights, and a good bit cleaner than the rest of India.

We had our own private air conditioned bus for the tour and we all hopped in it for our 6 hour trip to Jaipur. It felt a bit weird and familiar heading back into Rajhastan. The a/c was a bit annoying after a while, especially as I knew hopping in and out of it was just going to bring my cold back on but what can ye do. I stuck my ipod in my ears, looked out the window and had a bit of a snooze.
Just 2km from our hotel, the bus broke down. HA! I've been on public transport the whole past two months and nothings gone wrong. Get our own bus and BAM! it breaks down. So we tuk tuk'd it the rest of the way to our most amazing hotel, which was actually a palace! It was gorgeous and had lots of nice couches, plants and fancy pictures of short Sultans about the place. A member of the Royal family actually still lived there. And it had a swimming pool! Well HOT DOG! It was kits off and straight to the pool with us for the afternoon. Delightful! The pool was so clear and cool and super refreshing.

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Later Dushyant brought us round the town and through the markets, testing our knowledge of spices.

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Then we went to a super posh restaurant for dinner and had a great lol listening to one of our group reprimand Dushyant for the way the Indian people where treated when India was divided up after it got it's Independence. Joe, was from the Phillippines and he was giving out about how the politicians had made this decision for Indians without an election or vote. Dushyant explained that in 1947 a lot of Indian people could not read or write. Joe maintained that that type of thing never would have happened in his country. It's a pity he wasn't around then to ensure such things didn't take place. Poor auld Dushyant wasn't around and wasn't responsible for decisions made then. :D

Later we discovered Princess Diana had stayed in our hotel! Well if it was good enough for Lady Di...

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Poor Kat began to feel a bit ill and to be honest she never fully recovered from what was 'buggin' her for the whole trip. :(

The next day we hopped on our bus to see the Amber Fort - which was very impressive. We saw a guy on the ground outside rolling up the stairs in all his clothes! Apparently his wish had come true and to thank the gods, he had to roll up the stone steps to the fort. Naturally!

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We had a local guide for the Fort (palace) and he filled us in on all the history and interesting info on the gaff. It was fierce interesting. The Raj that built it, was overthrown by his third son who was a power hungry maniac. This son also killed his three other brothers just to be sure he could become Top Dog. He imprisoned his own father in the fort! Although his pop was imprisoned there, he was still brought a constant stream of consorts well into his old age and apparently he died from an overdose of Viagra. :D

(All of the above information may be wrong or factually incorrect. I'm writing this two weeks later and I'm not sure if I've muddled up the Red fort and the Amber fort info) . :D

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After another afternoon of beer and swimming back at our own palace swimming pool, we were brought to this awesome Cinema to see the Bollywood movie Himmatwala (Brave Man).

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Well I never! This was probably thee best movie I have ever seen and I didn't understand a word of it! (It was in Hindi). It was a bout a Brave Man who could punch a tiger in the face and knock him out, beat up a vanful of men in 5 seconds flat, dance amazingly and still manage 8 changes of clothes in 1 song, and obviously make the leading lady fall in love with him. It was awesome.
Here is the trailer...

Your text to link here...

The cinema was packed with westerners (most of whom ceremoniously left after half an hour) and Indians alike. The Indians and our group (most of them) really enjoyed the movie and were going bonkers and laughing, whistling, hooting and dancing in the aisles (mostly the Indian lads) when the dance numbers came on. The cinema had cheap delicious popcorn, samosas and an interval! Best movie Ever.
Kat had to leave early due to being sick, but I filled her in on the whole dramatic outcome when I returned! Took me about half an hour to explain the whole 3 hours of it!

Posted by squeakylee 04:00 Archived in India Tagged fort jaipur bollywood amber himmatwala Comments (0)

Agra, The Red Fort & The Taj Mahal

overcast 39 °C

So off we headed on the bus to Agra the next morning. We made good time on the newly repaired bus so we went to see the Red Fort on the way to our hotel. We had another great local guide there and as he brought us round and explained all the info on the Fort. (insert your own imaginary story here - I've muddled up all the Raj's and what not)

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Later we were brought to the Taj and it was just as awesome as expected. It actually looked fake, like it was photoshopped into the background. It was built for Mumtaz Mahal by her husband. She died giving birth to his 14th child and he promised her, as she lay on her deathbed, that he would never remarry, look after all their children, and build a monument to represent his love for her that would astound and impress the world. And he did.
He also apparently paid off all the builders who worked on the Taj, making them promise they would never again build or replicate a building of such beauty again. The other rumour was that he chopped off their hands so they physically couldn't replicate the Taj. Believe whichever story ya like. :D

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After the Taj we went for a delicious dinner that apparently made Nick and Hannah sick the next day! Dropping like flies..... :/

I finished Shantaram - it was AWESOME. Also re read The Alchemist - it was ok - a bit meh. There's a lesson or message in there somewhere ... Possibly about travelling the world looking for something, that will inevitably turn out to be on your doorstep....

8)

Posted by squeakylee 04:34 Archived in India Tagged fort red mahal taj agra Comments (0)

Orchha

overcast 24 °C

As a good few of the group were under the weather, and as the weather itself was terrible, Dushyant cancelled our stay in luxury tents and instead booked us into a luxury hotel with a giant swimming pool and what seemed like never ending delicious buffets.

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To get to this HELLHOLE ( ;) ) we got a train to Jansi which was most pleasant, and then tuk tuks for about 45 minutes to the hotel. Along the way a humoungous windstorm whipped up and nearly blew the tuk tuk off the road (just as he was overtaking other cars of course). The wind hurled leaves, dust and rubbish into our faces! It was quite scary and pretty funny at the same time. It also seemed like everyone else was going in the opposite direction to us! :D hmmmmmmm

Our next hotel was fierce fancy, except that our room stunk! I think it was to do with the A/C but every time we returned to our rooms, the smell of sewerage was gross! I scared Kat with a tale I read on the internet about how some guy was nearly poisoned in his sleep by the stench in his hotel room. :D

Luckily we both didn't die and I ventured out with the rest of the gang to another cookery class later in the evening.
We went to a lovely lady's house and she showed us how to make Summer Chai, crispy poppadoms (forgotten already), and the most delicious aubergine curry I've ever tasted. All the food was nom.

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After this nomfest, a few of us waddled out to investigate the non-stop trance fest tha was going on outside our hotel. We snuck through the grounds of our fancy hotel, only to see a large chessboard of a dancefloor out in the middle of the grass! There were huge speakers set up on the 'board' adn the cheesy music was thumping out, deafening about 20 young Indians who were dancin and prancin and drinkin their heads off. AWESSOMME

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They invited us on to the dancefloor and on we went, bustin white-people dance moves wherever we landed. We seemed like realllly krap dancers in comparison to these wild, booty-shakin', hair-flippin, bust-wigglin dancers! And that was just the men! ; )
Anywho we had a great auld boogie and laugh at this awesome Indian Work Party! (WORK PARTY??) and stayed ravin for a good while until we had to retreat to protect our eardrums. : )

The next day we visited another temple/fort/palace with lots of nice paintings of all the various incarnations of Shiva..

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IN the afternoon we frolicked in the pool and later Dushyant brought us to a Hindu ceremony where we got to make a wish by twirling an incense stick clockwise three times! if only that worked! :) Hinduism seems bonkers to me - monkey gods and elephant gods and what not. It's all very interesting, but I can't help but think it's a bit mad. Possibly the maddest out of all the religions? Maybe I'm too close minded. Maybe there was indeed a young boy who's head was chopped off by his dad and replaced with the head of an elephant! Why the hell not!! science schmience..

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Later we got a jeep to the train station and hopped on a night train to Varanasi. My 8th and last ever night train in India. Thanks be to Ganesh! This night train however was quite pleasant and enjoyable and we gals had some right auld girly chats on the way to our last stop in India - Varanasi. 8)

Posted by squeakylee 05:01 Archived in India Tagged fort class orchha cookery Comments (0)

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