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Day 2 : Arriving in Delhi - My Indian Odyssey begins

The trick is to not tell people what you are going to do, but what you did. My journey to enlightenment...

sunny 38 °C

An odyssey is a long and eventful or adventurous journey and experience. My Indian Odyssey is about to begin.

Its 5.30 am and sunrise, flying at 39000’ over the Arabian Sea to the sounds of Led Zeppelin playing “Stairway to Heaven”, how cool is that? “A new day at dawn” as the song goes, I’m quite excited about this adventure. Breakfast has just been served, potato pancakes, Anda Masala, poached curried eggs and coffee. Very nice.

We are soon making our descent to Delhi and land into a sunny, very hot and humid 38oC . The airport and Delhi is unusually quiet, into customs and passport control, paperwork and visa all okay, "Welcome to India Mr Casey" . In the airport arrivals area I scan around the many taxi drivers holding name cards...I then spot a card with my name "Mr Casey" . The driver politely greets me " Mr Casey I am your driver in Delhi and will take you to your hotel, Hotel Jennifer. So a welcome shower and freshen up, then off on a guided tour of Delhi. Down its wide and empty boulevards of the old British Raj, its many fine old buildings including Rajpath, Jama Masjid mosque, India Gate and the famous Red Fort, Delhi’s most famous monument.

Why is Delhi so quiet? The opening ceremony of the 19th Commonwealth Games opens in a few hours. There is no evidence of the chaos and unfinished preparations except for a few road gangs completing tarmac and painting kerb edges. Delhi is looking very tidy. But I did discover an answer in the Hindustan Times which might shock you, first all shops and local markets were closed down by the government, to the disgust and anger of local traders. Why? Then second, and more shockingly, 40,000 beggars, semi skilled and casual labourers were systematically harassed and moved out of Delhi by the police. A sizeable population. Those without ID cards were trained or trucked out of the city, and packed off to their home states. I will let you make up your own mind on this!

In contrast to this the opening ceremony was a dazzling success and a spectacular start to the 19th Commonwealth Games. I had a great lamb curry and a well needed cold Kingfisher beer that was smuggled into me (it was a dry day, opps !) I resorted out my gear again, and realise I could loose another 25% of it, but I am a late starter into adventure travelling, and yes my family, “You are right”, I hear them reply, “We did tell you”. Thank God for coolies at the station.

Tomorrow is an early start. Up at 5am, breakfast, a 6am pick up to Delhi Station for the train north to Amritsar in the Punjab, for the next leg of my journey...to the Pool of the Nectar of Immortality !

Posted by Mike Casey 06:25 Archived in India

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