When I woke up the first morning and opened the drapes, I was surprised by a sweeping view of Delhi. Of course it’s not all of Delhi, but it is as far as the eye can see. Which these days, I am learning, is not that far, because of the ‘fog’, whatever it is.
I was still a bit tired from the gut wrenching exhausting day before, so I wanted to take it easy. The hotel called a taxi for me, which cost a fee of US$12.60 for 4 hours. So I had him give me a tour of the closer area. My hotel is located at the centre of New Delhi, Connaught Square. Connaught Square is actually three rings of buildings in concentric circles with shops, banks and all kinds of businesses. The streets leading to it are all arranged in a starlike pattern, meeting at their own circles, very European. So you are constantly driving in circles! Very difficult to explain.
First he drove me around the center, to see the most important buildings, India Gate, the President’s Palace, the Government buildings Connaught Square and I followed with the map to learn the lay of the land.
We drove up Rajpath (which means ‘King’s Way’). This is the ceremonial boulevard of New Delhi. It runs, starting just before India Gate, to the government buildings and the President’s Palace. It is one of the most important roads in India, where the annual Republic Day parade takes place each 26 January. It is lined on both sides with huge lawns, canals and trees and it’s quite impressive.
All these fabulous classical buildings were designed by a famous British architect, Edward Lutyens, and all built for the first British Viceroy. Building started in 1911 and was completed in 1929.
After getting picture – literally – I had to relax and had the driver take me shopping to Khan Market. Khan Market is a famous shopping area, and I expected great things. When we arrived, I was dumb founded: it was a block of dilapidated buildings with all kinds of dirty alleys, bikes, motorcycles and poor people sitting on the ground and eating.
But let me explain: Khan Market has the simplest little cheap souvenir shops right alongside the most exclusive boutiques with very high end silk, cashmere and pashmina items. I did take some pictures, so here they are. – As I came out of one of these exclusive stores, I saw this woman parading her severely crippled son like a dog, on all fours, begging. Shock? I might say so.
The driver waited patiently for two and a half hours, then drove me back to my hotel.
What was for dinner? Since the hotel staff advised me not to go out to dinner on my own, even with a driver, I stayed in and went to a very wonderful Indian restaurant in the hotel. But, I won’t be able to afford that every day, so I have to think of other options.