Thursday, 16 February 2012

Wednesday 15th - On the Move

After a slightly disturbed night's sleep we woke as it was getting light. The train was running somewhat late as we were 2 hours late at Kanpur. As we head through the countryside towards Delhi there are patches of very dense fog, presumably the cause of the delays. There was plenty to watch including many pairs of Saurus Cranes, the world's tallest flying bird. D had managed to research an Indian railways phone number which provides the running status of any train if you text it in. We were quickly able to find out the estimated eta of our train - 40 minutes late - so not too bad. We phoned the hotel to let them know so the driver did not have to hang around.

Early morning tea arrives eventually and our breakfast order is taken. The train starts to put some speed on now, probably running at the maximum permitted 140 kph. Breakfast, when it arrives , is vegetable rissoles with chips and peas with a side order of some kind of sweet porridge/polenta made from rice or semolina or something else but not oats. We also get another tea kit. One is provided with a small flask of hot water which gives one a cupfull each. To go with this are two tea bags each, 14 grams of sugar each and a sachet of dairy creamer. If it was all to be used the result mixture would be nearer solid than liquid.

NDLS (Delhi's main railway station) is its usual chaotic bustle. We arrive at Platform 10, and have the usual squabble with the porters over their charges. One guy takes both our big holdall and the rucsac and carries them over to the pick up point near platform one. When we get there - no driver. We call him and discover that he is at the opposite side of the station so back we go all 18 platforms till we find our man. The porter, unsurprisingly wants (and gets) double the fee.

The drive down to our hotel is pretty well incident free. Delhi traffic seems tame after the best part of a week in Kolkata. We like the Lutyens Bungalow on first view, set back from the road in gardens with birds everywhere. We are made very welcome by Shukla, the owner, who apologises for the mix up with the pick up which was due to access being prevented by some sort of political demonstration. Our room is big and airy but with only high level quarter light windows.

We get settled in and showered before heading into the city centre. A ten minute stroll in pleasant sunshine took us to the local metro station for the trip into the city centre. We are trying to find the state run emporia which are said to be the best quality and value for traditional Indian items. The street that they are supposed to be on, Janpath, is a vast construction site as a new metro line is coming through that way. While we wonder where to look an auto driver accosts us and offers to drive us to the "new centre" for Rs 10. In retrospect this offer is too good to be true. We are driven for a mile or more out towards the suburbs and pull up at a smart building. There as a bit of a stand off until change for the auto ride is produced.

Inside we are the only punters amongst at least a dozen staff. The head man turns on the charm and we are shown down to the basement carpet room and given a demonstration of carpet weaving. This turns into a history of kashmiri carpets and then, as the honey and cinammon tea arrives, the hard sell begins. R is clearly tempted by the admittedly beautiful rugs but D remains a hard headed Yorkshireman and talks our way out.

Surprise, surprise. Our auto man is still there offering another emporium but way say no and pay a bit over the odds for him to take us to the nearest Metro station. Near here was a plinthed Darjeeling B class, looking a bit sorry. D was not allowed inside the premises to take a photo and had to be content with a shot through the railings.

Back at the Lutyens Bungalow it was time for afternoon tea and a spot of bird and squirrel watching as a flock of parakeets flew in to be fed. We met some of the other guests and chewed the fat with them. Tea time became beer time as the afternoon drew on and it got distinctly chilly. We actually had to put on fleece sweaters. Evening meals at the LB are at communal tables and convivial affairs. The food is vegetarian, only lightly spiced but very tasty and there was fruit and cream for pud. Yummy.

When we turned in there was a hot water bottle each in our beds - people here think that it is cold!

No comments:

Post a Comment