Monday, 27 February 2012
Sunday 26th - In New Delhi
At last we get a lie in. The weather in Delhi is definitely heading towards summer as the sky is blue and it is quite warm out of the breeze. We have a leisurely breakfast then pack and clear our room. Lutyens Bungalow is a really nice laid back place and they are happy for us to leave our luggage, come back for afternoon tea and dinner and help ourselves at the bar (as long as we pay for them). Our host Shukla is a lovely lady who goes out of her way to make her guests feel at home and for us she has certainly succeeded.
R decrees that retail therapy is required today so we head off on the metro for Dilli Haat market where she finally decides upon a suitable Ganesh for our domestic shrine. Most of the ones we have seen in India are fitted out with scarves or shawls to ward off the winter cold. We browse around the stalls and tell the salesmen that we have no room in our suitcase. They don't seem very convinced.
After a momo lunch we decide that we have time to visit the Rajpath, the area of new Delhi designed by Lutyens to be the seat of government for the Raj. The buldings are very impressive and the gardens are generally well maintained. We took a look inside one of the admin buildings, peeked through the railings at the President's house and got chased off one of the terraces by a man with a gun (but he was very nice about it).
Half of Delhi seemed to be out, playing and picnicing on the lawns on either side of the Rajpath. There were several games of cricket in progress although from what we saw nobody was likely to make the step up to test level anytime soon. By the time that we reached the imposing India Gate, a huge War memorial, at the east end of the Rajpath, the heat was starting to take its toll and we take an auto back to the metro for the ride back to LB.
This is our last ride on the Delhi Metro on this visit. We have used it everyday during our two stays in the city, which has cost us just under £2 each. Match that Boris. The trains are clean and air-conditioned and much more roomy than the London Underground, even when busy. D could not resist the opportunity to take an illicit photo of this splendid system. There are notices around the stations detailing the penalties for various infractions. Riding on the roof incurs a fine of Rs 50/- - sounds like good value. There is no stated penalty for taking a photo, just notices saying don't so if this blog suddenly goes quiet you know what has happened.
We arrive just in time for afternoon tea and a chat on the terrace. Everybody who stays here seems to love the informal atmosphere and mucks in. Even the parakeets and the chipmunks seem to get on with each other. Eventually the sun drops behind the building and the air becomes chilly so we take refuge inside and catch up on our e-mail. THere are lots of comings and goings tonight and we dine as a small party including Shukla and a rather grand friend of hers who R dubs the Countess. The conversation is entertaining and the food is good but it is soon time for us to depart for Sarai Rohilla Station, a few miles north west of central Delhi.
The taxi firm wanted to set off at 8 p.m. while D was thinking 9 so we compromised at 8.30 which meant that we arrived at the station just before nine. The coaches were at the platform but 1AC and 2AC were locked. Delhi SR is a bit of a dump as far as major terminals go and lacks most facilities but R did find a seat while D went to check the loco (WDM 3A Class No 16374R if you must know). When he returned it was to discover that R had a ringside seat for the great Platform 2 fish catastrophe. Two chaps were wheeling a barrow laden with boxes along the platform when one of the wheels broke through the tarmac surface and turned the barrow over. There were fish and ice and bits of polystyrene everywhere. Eventually it was all swept up off the platform and back into the boxes. We won't be eating fish for a few days.
Our coach was unlocked and we found cabin C - the only 2-berth on the train, again! R voted it the mankiest train she had yet seen in India, using her precious face wipes to clean the upholstery. A very black mark for the North West Zone of IR The bedding provided was deemed unfit for purpose - R wants to know what they use to keep their sheets so grey. We were glad that we had our silk sheet bags. The Rajasthan Sampark Kranti Express was under way at 10.30, only five minutes late and after waiting half an hour for the ticket examiner we poured ourselves a night cap then turned in.