I arrived in Delhi after an eventful departure and so many tears anyone sat next to me must have thought I was going to war. I had long been imagining what may await me once I stepped out of airport, would I be totally unprepared? What if I was completely overwhelmed? Would I want to turn on my heel and go straight back home?
Where are all the cows?
Driving in the dead if night to my guesthouse I was surprised at how quiet the roads were, this was not the scene that I had been expecting and preparing for, I mean where were all the cows for a start? This certainly didn’t look like the crazy frantic assault on all senses I was expecting, so I reasoned with myself that the cows must all be in bed and the real action would start in the coming days.
And oh how it did!
After dipping my toe in to the city at a local market the previous day I decided to take things full on and explore Old Delhi by bike with on the Delhi cycle tour. Being a keen cyclist in London I figured that this would be a cool way to explore the city..
It made my normal commute look like a pootle in the back garden with stabilisers on
Old Delhi was like stepping back in time circa Arabia a few hundred years ago. Everywhere I looked something was going on, cows and donkeys pulling huge loads, men carrying sacks five times their body weight and spindly legged rickshaw drivers taking children to school. A HUGE cart filled to the brim with hearts covered in flies trundled past me as I rode past a man tentatively laying out cow hoofs for the days sale. This is what I had been imagining, this is what I had been afraid of; but rather than being afraid now I was in simply in awe, this was Delhi in all it’s glory and it was wonderful, even a couple of dead rats and cats I saw along the way didn’t gross me out.
Meandering through many of the cluttered lanes with low hanging cables (one spark and the whole place would go up surely) we arrived at the spice market and climbed on to the rooftop coughing amongst a thick fog of chilli. Regaining my breath we took back to the streets which were filling up and I had a minor bump with a rickshaw driver, thinking I had right of way before remembering the hierarchy of the roads (cows, cars, rickshaws, bikes, people) but he was most gracious about it. Stopping with the guide I noticed that small crowds were gathering to look at us, unrelentantly staring. Again this is something I had worried myself silly about, but as we left I gave each crowd a big smile and waved goodbye and was equally rewarded with a smile, I don’t know what all the fuss was about I thought to myself!
The tour ended with a typical mogul breakfast of mutton curry and roti and as I relaxed with my chai I hoped my mind had enough room to retain all that I saw, and that the rest of the world can compare to this fascinating place.