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Welcome to India!

sunny 36 °C

So here we go! Welcome to India!

We are currently sat in Hotel Tara Palace in the heart of Old Delhi watching 'Bolly Divas' and resting up after three days hard sightseeing and revelling in the relaxation after the brilliant and manic environment of New Delhi. The current view from the window is generally a patchwork of corrugated iron where kids are flying kites.

The journey was surprisingly easy to say we had the baggage load of a small army rather than two backpackers due to everyone’s generosity in donating items for the Salaam Balak Trust. Thanks to my dad and his baggage trolley we managed all our transfers with relative ease and were even shocked ourselves. Needless to say we had a congratulatory shandy once we had got through check in and were bag free!

The only hold up was waiting for the bags and there was a moment of fear as the baggage carousel stopped without our bags appearing and ours were the last of the plane. Between us we had two lots of underwear, some PJ bottoms and a spare set of leggings if our bags were lost... Imagine the fashion combinations! We needn't have worried, two fold. Our bags did appear to some celebration and the clothes in Delhi are so cheap Andy has started to wish he had lost his bag and could start from scratch!

Our dutiful hotel pick up was still waiting two hours after we were supposed to arrive with his sign for 'And Drew Lank Shyre' and he helped us dodge all the scams and touts that are infamous for that initial arrival. As we left the airport we got that overwhelming feeling of heat hit us as we walked to the car park and we could finally appreciate what my mum has been referring to!

Now I am used to people pulling up on the motorway to change a flat tyre. I was surprised however when we were driving down the motorway and we saw a chap pull in the motorway layby on his HORSE and change its shoes at the side of the motorway. A sign of things to come I hope!

A quick run down of our activities. In Delhi so far we have explored the streets of Chandi Chowk. We are impressed by the city retail set up. You want a bike fixing, you go to bike fixing street where the mechanics are (incidentally this is outside our hotel), you want some fabric, you go to fabric street, you want a 32 MB USB storage drive... well there is a man on every corner ready to sell you that!

We have explored Connaught Place where Andy was subject to a near miss ear rape by an ear cleany man. The chap had a book full of recommendations from Western travellers that 'after this mans service my ears have never felt so clean', Joe Taylor, UK'. As the chap seemed to only have one cotton bud, and it did not look too chipper, Andy passed on the mans service. (don't panic Mum, it is Andy's new tattoo of Delhi in Hindi script you should be worrying about).

We have also since being here visited the Red Fort and it is really impressive. I won't go into detail as Wikipedia and the Lonely Planet do that for us all! I will tell you that neither of these sources go into what I think is necessary depth about the amount of wild CHIPMUNKS there are running around in the Red Fort! Now that is an impressive quality for any location.

We then went to Ghandi Smirti, the house where Ghandi spent the last 144 days of his life and the location where he was assassinated. They have a very entertaining range of montages depicting different stages of Ghandi's life made entirely from dressed up Barbie dolls. Now that is something they don't put in the guide book and I think would definitely increase the foot fall to this memorial if they did! Andy walked Ghandi's last steps and marvelled at the chap he idolises and his life. I entertained myself taking pictures of Andy posing next to Ghandi's glasses which are in a glass case at the exhibition. Shame Andy didn't wear his Ghandi costume as the glasses are all he is missing...

Beer and food brings us to today!

For those of you who have sufficient commitment to get to this point reading, I salute you!! For those that are already bored, we will put some pictures up in summary so your not missing much!

Today we hunted out the Salaam Balak Trust near New Delhi Railway Station that works with the Railway Children of India running children's homes, schools and training and apprenticeship schemes to help them get out of a life of poverty. We went to one of the Boys children's homes which served as a drop off for the donations we brought. There were about 30 kids who were there who we met and hung out with for a bit. Me and Andy got relatively mobbed by the kids who all wanted to shake hands, introduce themselves and then play hand clapping games. Andy remains the most impressed by the kids who could do the best Dame Ednor Glasses with their hands and turn their eyelids inside out. They will distribute all the goods we brought across the five homes they have in Delhi so thank you to everyone who donated!

The children's home is basic and they don't have a lot, but what we saw when we were there is that all the kids were clean, well behaved and when one fell over and cried,he got picked up by one of the staff and given a cuddle until he stopped. We also turned up unannounced on a Sunday afternoon so we reckon that it was a clear indication of the reality of the atmosphere there. There was a sense of a family rather than an institution. The kids all had ambitions of a future and the Trust is committed to helping them get there purely from the help of donations and commitment from the staff.

After a brief stop off for Thali and Chay we headed to Birla Mandir the massive Hindu Temple which Ghandi declared was for all castes. It was really lovely to walk round. Apparently for some of the visitors though, we were the biggest attraction as people took photos not of the architecture, but of us. All I can say is that we apologise to the UK for us being it's representatives in India! I assured them that other people are more photogenic!

Tomorrow (Monday 19th September) we travel to Amaritsar (450km north west of Delhi) to see the Golden Temple, which is the holiest Sikh Shrine in the whole of India.

Keep in touch everyone!

Posted by Annie Thornton 00:20 Archived in India Tagged delhi

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Great blog guys, sounds like your having an awesome time. Keep it up and stay safe (from ear cleaners)! Photos please. Dody

by Dody

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