If I said our first day in India included homeless street children, queuing for train tickets, dodging fireworks in the street, getting lost, hassle from touts and beggars and surviving on 3 hours sleep then you'd probably reply "I thought you were on holiday?!", well I missed out the worst parts, they were the highlights. Three hours sleep was all we had time for when we arrived in the early hours of the morning at the strangely named 'Hotel Cottage Yes Please' but Delhi has a gift for keeping you awake and we don't want to begin our trip by spending all day in bed.
Started things off with an alternative city tour led by ex street children. The Salaam Baalak Trust is a shelter for homeless street children. We walked the backstreets of New Delhi, heard the stories of children's struggles living on the streets and met the children staying at the shelter. The children jump around wanting to play and have their photo taken. We stay around for a while, make a donation to the charity and then go and get some dinner with a German couple we met on the walk.
Afternoon we went to the train station to try and book tickets on a sleeper train to Udaipur on Wednesday night, fast forwarding several odd and confusing hours and yes we eventually got that sorted. As the day goes on the frequency of firecrackers exploding in the streets increases rapidly due to the Diwali festival starting tomorrow, the streets, houses and shops are being decorated with coloured lights and chains of marigolds.
We grab a tuk tuk at night to Connaught Place and spend most of the night getting lost looking for a restaurant who's location is only known by our smart arse guide book and made much more difficult to find by having closed down. After eating somewhere else that hadn't closed down we got back to Parahganj for a beer in a place called 'my bar', some weird goings on in there but unfortunately I'm too exhausted to elaborate and must get some sleep ready for a full day tomorrow.
Things I noticed today;
- If the roads aren't too busy then it's absolutely fine to jump red lights at speed as long as you toot your horn a bit (as per our taxi from the airport)
- India has massive ants