Just Around India

A travel diary by a Japanese tourist

<Day3 - Delhi ->

                                                                          8 Jan

I woke up at a little past 9 and checked out the hotel.
    It's not like I was dissatisfied with the hotel but I wanted to stay somewhere a bit nicer for the last day in Delhi. Since I walked around the area for 2 days, I had alreayd found a couple of hotels that looked pretty good.

    I walked a few hundred meters and entered a hotel which I had an eye on. I asked the man at the front desk then he said it's 900 rupees for a night. The price was triple of the last hotel but the room was large and had an A/C. I could use hot water as well. And what I really liked was there was a veranda where I could look down the street of Paharganj. I talked the price down to 800 and took a room.
    After putting down my backpack in the room, I felt a bit guilty of spending 800 for a night but convinced myself that it was a good idea to rest well in a nice room and prepare for the 18 hours train ride tomorrow.

(My second hotel in Delhi, about 16 dollars for a night)


(I could see Paharganj from the veranda)

    I went out again and had a breakfast at a nearby cafe. I ordered a buttered toast and a cup of chai. It cost 35 rupees.
    It was pretty cold this morning too. I strolled around Paharganj a little bit then a guy on the street talked to me. He called himself Shaquille and he also said this year's Delhi is colder than usual. He invited me to his shop nearby. I told him "I won't buy anything" and he said "OK" so I followed him.
    As I expected, once we arrived at his shop he tried to sell some stuff  and urged me to join some tour for the country side in the north. But eventually he seemed to understand that I had no intention of buying anything. Then he bought me a cup of chai at a chai stand in front of the shop. Looking his quick transition, I felt like I was the one who is more cunning.

    Then I walked to Connaght Place.
    I was thinking to look around the south side of Connaught Place today. It seemed there is a huge gate called "India Gate" in the southeast of Connaught Place. I decided to go there.
    The roads to the India Gate were wide and had multipule lanes. The "beep!" horn sounds were prevalent here as well but it wasn't as chaotic as Paharganji. People were walking on the sidewalks and cars were going on the roads so the traffic was somewhat well-organised as a proper city.


    I walked along a wide road for a while then turned left. Then I saw a huge gate standing ahead. It was the India Gate. I walked to the gate and looked at it for a while. It was huge but not something I could admire its grandeur for hours so after taking a short rest , I decided to go somewhere else.

    According to my map, there seemed to be a museum commemorated Mahatma Gandhi in the southwest of India Gate. Although I had only a basic knowledge about the "Father of India", I thought it's a good opportunity to learn about him.
    Unlike Paharganj or Connaght Place, there weren't so many people around here and strangers barely talked to me, but when I started walking toward the museum an auto rickshaw driver called out to me.
    "Where are you going? I will take you."
    "No, I'm fine."
    I turned down the offer by reflex. But as I walked few more hundread meters, I started to think it might be a good idea to take a rickshaw. Since I arrived in India,  so many rickshaw drivers had offered their service to me but I had rejected all of them. I did't mind walking and didn't want to spend money needlessly. Also those drivers tended to be persistent so that made me want to say "No".
    But rickshaws were essential part in Indian's life so getting used to it early seemed to be a good idea for the rest of my trip. So when I saw another auto rickshaw coming, I raised my hand and stopped it.
    "How much to the Gandhi museum?"
    I asked the driver and he said it's 50 rupees. I thought it's a bit expensive considering the distance but it's just about a dollar anyway so I said OK and got in the car.
    After I sat on the backseat that had no sidewalls and windows, the rickshaw started moving at crisp speed and the sceneries changed rapidly. Riding a vehicle I had never ridden before made me feel excited. I felt like I got more freedom by aquiring a new option. And of course, it was much faster than walking. I arrived at the museum in 5 minutes or so.


    The Gandhi Smriti Museum was established based on a house where Gandhi lived before he died. His childhood, the times when he studied in England, the times when he worked as a lawyer in South Africa, his indipendent movement for India and his death were described with texts and pictures in the museum. When I saw a picture of Gandhi wearing a fine suit in South Africa, I felt something like a dramatic wave of the time.
    The room he used to sleep was left as it was and it was very austere with only a small bed at the corner of the room. And I also learned that it was the couryard of this house where Gandhi was assassinated. On that day, Gandhi left his room and got shot on his way to the afternoon prayer. The man who shot Gandhi was said to be a Hindu fundamentalist. The political stance of Gandhi who wished coexistence of Hindu and Muslim made the man fired 3 bullets.

(The place where Gandhi got killed)

f:id:Ryindia:20160111022814j:plain(The room where Gandhi lived until his death)

    I left the museum and bought a Gandhi's autobiography from a man in front of the gate for 150 rupees. Then I walked back to Connaght Place.
    I arrived at Connaught Place around 5 pm and had a cup of coffee and a muffin at the Barista. Since I walked straight from the museum, my legs were pretty tired. But resting at the cafe made me regain my energy and decided to walk a bit more.

    When I entered Paharganj, a man talked to me.
    "Hey, can you help me?"
    I casted a glance at where the voice came from. There was an Indian in his 20s walking with me side by side.
    "I came from the south and just arrived at New Delhi Station. But someone stole my wallet that I put all my money in."
    Then he showed a paper to me. It was a train ticket.
    "See? I came to Delhi with this ticket. But I have no money now. Please give me some money for food."
    So there is also a method like this... I thought. Of course I didn't know the truth but he seemed to be too calm for a man who just lost all his money. And the ticket he just showed me was so tattered as if he had been carrying it for few years or somerhing and the characters and numbers printed on the paper were barely readable. It was obvious to every clear thinker that the ticket was not bought recently. Probably he had tried to get money again and again with this ticket... I thought. But I decided to keep the conversation a bit more.
    "All your money? That's terrible. You should go to the police station. So where is the nearest police station?"
    Then he suddenly started stuttering.
    "uh... police? Well, uh... no, police is no good. They are... not good. They won't help me. So please help me, OK?"
    It was hard to hate this guy. He seemed to be too naive for tricking someone. 'Man why don't you aquire a bit more acting skill?' I wanted to tell him although I knew it was totally unnecessary. I felt like buying him a dinner and listening to his life story or something if I was on my way to restaurant but I was thinking to take a short rest at the hotel.
    We talked a bit more and eventually we came in front of my hotel.
    "Contact police, OK?"
    I told him and entered the hotel.

    Back in my room, I took a shower for the first time in India. I couldn't do it at my first hotel since there was no hot water running. Taking hot shower with a cold body felt so good and I thought it was worth paying 800 rupees.
    However when I tried to turn the A/C on in the room, it didn't work no matter how many times I pressed the button of the remote. I went to the front desk and asked about it then the man at the desk said I need to pay another 200 rupees to use A/C.
    I made a mistake, I thought. When they showed me the room, I thought I can use A/C since there was an A/C in the room. But I should have asked them and confirmed it. 1000 rupees for a night sounds a bit too expensive. I denied to pay extra 200 and went back to my room. Then I opened my guidebook to check if this hotel is on the book. The hotel was indeed on the book and it said 800 rupees with A/C. But since I didn't ask them if A/C was included before taking the room, I had no way to argue it now. I tried to take this as a learning experience.
    Although I was thinking to have a dinner at a rooftop restaurant of this hotel, now I didn't feel like spending any more money for the hotel. So I went outside.

    A little walk from the hotel, there was a restaurant called "Green Chilli". I found it when I was walking around Paharganj and it looked nice so I decided to go there.
    The inside of the restaurant was dimly lit and looked like a Western style bar. And as if affirming the atmosphere, there were beers on the menu. Because of the religious reason, restaurants that serve alcohol were relatively few in India. So I hadn't drunk any alcohol since I came to India.
    I ordered a glass of beer, a buttered chicken curry and a naan. The curry was a bit spicy and it made me sweat a lot but it was very tasty. The price was 303 rupees including the beer. A bit expensive for Indian standard, I thought.
    "So this is the last night in Delhi..."
    I was thinking. The beer made me feel happy.

    When I stepped outside, I felt the temperature had dropped down even more. Shivered from cold, I started walking on the road to the hotel. Then I saw several red lights flickering in the dark.
    They were bonfires made by homeless Indians. They gathered trashes and burned them on the streets to warm themselves.
    At each of those make-shift fires, I could see several Indians. Extending their hands and feeling the fire. At some fires, they were huddling together with cows who were also gravitated by the fire.
    I didn't know if it was an ordinary scene or something lead by this winter's unusually coldness in Delhi. In any case those flickering red dots in the dark looked somewhat unreal and made me feel as if I was strayed into another time of era.