At the moment I’m in the common room at the guesthouse where I’m staying – the old gentleman who owns the place has decided to try to make conversation with me. The conversation ended about ten minutes ago – yet he’s still here staring at me. No, not awkward at all….
Bollywood: the biggest film industry outside of America. Huge stars, blockbusters and paparazzi are all in Mumbai with it too. During orientation today we got to watch a Bollywood movie to understand Indian culture a little better and listen to more Hindi. It was a film that’s been played in Indian theatres for 800 weeks. No that is not a typo – indeed it’s been playing in theatres here for 16 years. It is a blockbuster! We had some good laughs watching; there’s lots of singing and dancing and it took place in Punjab which turns out is beautiful!
Once we were done our movie, we headed for lunch, which took too long. We were planning to go to Gandhi Smitri – the house where Gandhi was living when he was shot. It’s been preserved, has some of his belongings and a memorial. We thought we’d maybe make it just in time to get in still so we left lunch and tried to get a rickshaw – we must have looked like we had the plague or something, as none of the rickshaws wanted anything to do with us! At this point we know there’s no way we’re going to get to Gandhi Smitri on time so a new plan is devised.
We finally get a rickshaw and head to Connaught Place to wander the markets instead. We get there and look around in confusion as we don’t see a market… Oh turns out it’s under construction! Fail. We wander a bit at the shops that are there, I see a man wearing a shirt that says ‘The best thing about a blowjob is the twenty minutes of silence,’ then this young guy tells us there’s a mall down the road, he’ll show us the way. We humor him and follow – there’s no way of getting out of people knowing you’re a tourist here! He chats and chats, asks us lots of questions, we’re sweating to death and I need to pee.
We finally get to an emporium – not a mall – we’re fine with it and go in to wander. Everything is extremely overpriced. We chat with the salespeople a bit – the jewelry guy was pretty humorous and was born the same day as me so decided we were meant to be! Eventually we leave and our friend is waiting outside – joy…. He wants to take us to the mall now, ahhh I get it at this point. These are the shops where he’ll make commission if he brings us to them.. We follow him to the mall and again, wander. We come out and sure enough, he’s waiting! We say we need to get a rickshaw now to get to where we have to meet our friends. Of course he has friend right there in a rickshaw who can take us. We bicker over the price. I’m pointing at different places at the map trying to prove that I’m not an idiot. And he says ‘So many places, just like sexing’ – I’m like we’re out of here. He lowers his price to what I said and we begrudgingly get in.
Screeeeeeeeeechhhhh! Urrrrrrccccccchhhhh! We are on the rickshaw ride from hell. We were making bets on whether or not we’d make it out alive. It was horrifying. We nearly crashed a few times, nearly got crashed into a few times and were weaving in and out of traffic at such a speed you’d think one of us was going into labor! We finally get to where we’re going and he wants to wait so he can take us to where ever we want to go next. No way partner – we’re staying here we tell him.
Out we get at the Hazrat Nizum-ud-din Dargah mosque to be there for sundown and the qawwali singers perform and well Lonely Planet, my travel bible – first fail I’ve experienced by you, this was not a good idea. We get out and look around trying to figure where we want to be amongst the confusion. We are either being glared at or looked at as though we’re insane by every person in the vicinity. It’s not comforting. Then this other white lady, in a sari, stops us and asks us if we’re going in, we reply yes, and she continues to warn us it’s pretty intense and we need to be sure to cover our heads or people will start yelling at us. We look at each other and are like wtf?! We decide to get the hell out of there and grab a rickshaw to go back to our guesthouse.
There we are cruising along the highway and there’s an elephant. A young boy on an elephant, yes riding an elephant, in the middle of Delhi. We all do a double take and regret not being quick enough to have gotten a photo.
We get back to the guesthouse, exhausted, and laugh that we didn’t manage to do anything we planned for the afternoon. Officially the day we got nowhere, but had a story to tell.