So I’ve spent my first 24 hours in India and I feel like I have been here a week already! A lot has happened, but I’m glad I dived right in.
On the flight here there was a man being deported back to India and he was not happy about it – so there wasn’t much sleep to be had due to all his screaming. Ah well! It’s not too long a trip.
At New Delhi airport, if you’re from the UK, you’ll have to get your e-Visa… which takes ages. They take your fingerprints and retina scan you but either the machinery wasn’t working or some people have very faint fingerprints as it was taking up to 15 minutes for some people thus making the queue about an hour long. When it came to my turn it took 2 minutes… I have very pronounced fingerprints.
I decided to get the Delhi Metro to where I was staying instead of a taxi as I prefer public transport when travelling alone, it feels safer, also I couldn’t be bothered trying to not get ripped off after my long journey. At the airport you can buy a token to New Delhi Railway Station which costs 60 Rupees (60p), the Metro was quick, quiet and clean and at NDRS I bought another token (12 Rupees/12p) to take me to Karol Bagh where I was staying.
To be honest it was busy on the Metro but no more so than the Northern Line in London. If you can navigate and stand the crowds on the London Underground then the Delhi Metro will be a breeze. One note though, the people don’t wait for others to disembark the train first and there’s more pushing and shoving – just go with it.
When I got off at Karol Bagh I was immediately rushed by loads of street kids begging, I guess because I had on my huge backpack (obviously a loaded westerner). It was pretty overwhelming so I hopped on a rickshaw just to get away. It cost me 100 Rupees which is a massive rip off! But it’s a pound and I was knackered so I allowed it.
I got scammed!
When I arrived at my hotel I just dumped my bag, took about £5 worth of Indian money out and hit the streets. I got a lovely chapatti thing (22p) and a bottle of water when this guy just said “oh you’ve reached the boring end of the street” and FOR SOME REASON I started chatting to him. Anyway he said there was a beautiful traditional Indian market just around the corner and he’d show me, so I thought ‘why not’ thinking it would be like some fragrant outdoor bazaar.
Obviously he threw me onto a tuk tuk and drove me straight to his mate’s shop. I’ve been to Istanbul and Marrakech where this is common practice, as I’m sure it is in many parts of the world but I couldn’t believe I’d been suckered. The shop was a characterless modern three story building where my new ‘friend’ wanted me to drop £100 on a sari.
Luckily I only had about 400 rupees (£4) on me and just showed the dude my purse, then he was like ‘where is your credit card? You can pay on card’. I am so glad I didn’t have my card with me because I don’t think they would have let me leave without buying something on it. Then they said they would deliver a sari to my hotel – at this point I’m realising I’m a lone woman in a shop with about 15 men who want my cash, and I never get scared, but at this point I just wanted out. So I gave them my hotel name (NOT the real one, one I saw by the Metro) and a 200 Rupee deposit… so they robbed £2 from me basically. I wonder if they ever delivered the sari?
Don’t go off with anyone, that’s so stupid. Don’t take any valuables or much money out with you. And have a fake name and hotel at the ready. I go by Alesha Dixon in Delhi lol. My little incident in the sari shop ended up okay and I learned my lesson without parting with too much cash, but I’m a pretty hard nut, I can only imagine how some tourists have been swindled after being pressured by their (admittedly good but) very pushy sales techniques.
After my ordeal I went back to my hotel to Whatsapp my friends and family on the free wifi. I was so mad at myself for being so dim but I was just exhausted. So after a nap I went out again, this time with only 100 rupees (£1) and got the most amazing dinner for 40 rupees. It was called Mo Mo’s and was a kind of steamed dim sum (vegetable, I’m a bit wary of the meat here) with a *very* spicy sauce, but I like spicy. I sat and ate it on the street with my headscarf on and soaked in the atmosphere. It is mad in India but I definitely like it here.