Myles Harrington

Posts Tagged ‘Delhi’

Notes From a 40 Hour Train Journey

In India on May 11, 2010 at 6:04 pm

It began at 8.50pm Saturday 8th May at Old Delhi Station and ended at 12.30pm 10th May at Kolkata, a journey of epic proportions. In that time I could have gone from London to New York and back two and a half times or got the train from London to Manchester and back ten times. I even learnt to drive and passed my test in less time. It was an agonisingly slow train and if the staff at Bikaner station had been more helpful, I say more, I mean just helpful, then I could have got here in less than half the time.

The ticket so beautifully displayed on the red leather AC section seat

Some highlights of the trip include:

  • Seeing a text message from Osama Bin Laden from the Muslim guy who was sat next to me on and off along the way (I thought he was probably dead too)

Considering he's so good with technology Bin Laden needs to learn how to spell. It's F R I E N D

  • Meeting my fellow compartment travellers, Sheshank (Monu) Shubham. A man who was called Uncle, i’m not sure if that was his real name or a term of endearment made up by Monu and two quite girls who before they left warned me of the Muslim whose name is Raul and “Not to accept anything he gives you”, they didn’t realise it was too late and i’d already had a double rum and water from him.
  • Eating the fattest banana i’ve ever eaten
  • Having a poo and seeing it drop onto the tracks

Monu, Raul and the two quiet girls

Uncle Kracker

They looked fatter in real life. Don't worry I didn't take a poo pic, I was tempted though

My dear friend Monu now keeps sending me motivational text messages including one last night at 23:17 which said “Gudnyte. mising u myles so much : -) tkcare.”, before that it was “Life is very short. So break silly rules, forgive quickly, believe slowly, love truly, laugh loudly & never avoid anything that makes you smile” and his first, which i think might be his best was “Gudmorning miles, i m in my home. Its feel gud. Have a sweet day 4 u. Bye.”

I bought a new SIM today.

A ‘Youth’ Hostel, Thinking of Doing Yoga and a Russian Couple

In India on April 12, 2010 at 6:20 am

It seems strange to be writing about Saturday now when it feels like I have done so much since then. But when I was back in Delhi I decided to move into the International Youth Hostel. I’ve stayed in one of their hostels before in Zagreb and it wasn’t very good but their one in Euston looks really nice so i thought it was worth a try. This is the kind of thing I was expecting at a youth hostel:

Party time - how it should have been

But the reality was more like this:

How it was - This man snoring for 10 hours

The average age at the ‘youth’ hostel was probably about 55, so after a night with them all snoring in some kind of orchestral fashion in different times, pitches and paces; I checked out.

During the day I did lots of amazing tourist things. I went to the Old Fort, Humayun’s Tomb which apparently the Taj Mahal was based on and then onto the zoo where  i got whisked around in a limo golf cart for 50p. The standards of welfare at the zoo were actually okay. I was expecting them to be horrific but there was of course the standard pacing animal. London Zoo has their pacing tiger, New York has the pacing snow leopard (looking much happier in this video than when i saw it going mad) and Delhi has their psychotic lion.

On Sunday I spent most of my day (nine hours) in an air con taxi going from Delhi to Rishikesh via Haridwar with a Russian couple and their one year old child. I’m not quite sure how I ended up with them but I originally went to the bus station to hop on a bus that should have taken five hours. The queues for tickets and the panic to get on crammed buses was too much to handle or even understand and these group of seven people from Belarus said i should share a car with them. An hour later I was in a car with the yoga king of Moscow (apparently he owns a yoga school there) and the queen of Goa (she had been there for the last four months) and a child (which i think was theirs) who would go around eating dirt when we stopped.

We were originally going to just stop in Haridwar but the problem with that was we arrived at 10pm and the legendary Kumbh Mela was in full swing. Imagine Notting Hill Festival but over the whole of London, or Glastonbury ten times the size and in a city. There where tents everywhere as we drove through and the whole town was covered with fairy lights. So it would have been nearly impossible to get accommodation. Amazingly though all of the traffic was  still moving! Check out this video Chloe sent me before I even knew I was going to Haridwar to get a sense of the occassion.

I luckily called ahead to a hotel i’d been recommended by the only youth in the hostel, Mama’s Cottage on the High Bank in Rishikesh. She only had one room left (the one i had reserved earlier in the day) which the Russians got so I had to sleep in her lounge with her young son/cook on the sofa opposite me. I have to stay in the lounge tonight too because she is still full. I don’t mind though it’s only £1.50 a night, i get to call her mama and she’s currently doing my washing. I’m off now to explore why The Beatles fell in love with this place.

Rocky Rickshaws and a Nice Red Fort

In India on April 9, 2010 at 11:04 am

I managed to sleep through the whole night which i was surprised about given the yapping dogs and shouting tradesmen just outside the window. The air-con cut out at about 1am which was inconvenient but the fan did okay at finishing off the night.

The first port of call was the Red Fort, seen in all its glory below. It was too far and hot to walk so I decided i’d get an auto-rickshaw from outside New Delhi Train station. Somehow after much haggling I ended up on a push bike rickshaw. The poor man had to slog over bumpy pot-holed terrain along what seemed to be dual carriageways for about 20 minutes. It was then when we were freewheeling towards oncoming traffic, it dawned on me that I had absolutely no ID on me. So if I had died I would have probably been carted off to a hospital never to be seen again, minus my camera and many hundreds of rupees. So i’ve decided it might be a good idea to keep it on me from now on, alongside my insurance details so they can complete any life saving treatment necessary.

Obligatory Tourist Spot Number 1

After a delicious ‘vegetable sandwich’* (cucumber and tomato) at the fort’s under-prepared restaurant and taking the standard tourist snaps it was time to return home to purchase a SIM card and a backpack to carry my passport in. I got on another death trap bike rickshaw back to the hotel because I needed another adrenaline hit. The journey was just as bad and for my family’s sake i’m not going to divulge details.

A fine example of the scariest way to get around Delhi

*I experienced my first famous Delhi power cut when I got here the first time

Destination Delhi

In India on April 8, 2010 at 9:49 am

After a rather eventful flight (i’ll explain later) I got to my hotel extremely easily at about 8am this morning. The taxi man was there, my bag was there and I was let through without a suspicious stare.

He only nearly killed three people with his mirrorless driving

I was delightfully surprised considering the nightmare stories I read here yesterday that my four pound a night hotel was actually not too bad. It was even better than some hotels in Oxford! Upon my arrival I was instantly upgraded to a lovely double room with air-con and in a lovely shade of pink. I think it was because they had run out of the cheap ones.

Onto the flight fracas – After a delicious mushroom and spinach risotto for dinner (it genuinely was quite tasty, not quite Jamie Oliver more a la Matt Hull) and wasting two and a half hours of my life watching 2012, I decided to try and get into the new time zone, which is randomly five and a half hours ahead, and have a sleep. The next thing I know as I come back round from an hours nap, there is a Gazza look-a-like standing in my leg room area pissed up even more than Gazza on a stag do wearing his sleeping mask and trying to open up the emergency exit, calling the cabin crew motherf*ckers and threatening to light up a fag if they didn’t give him another vodka and coke. God knows how he’d managed to get so drunk so quickly. I’d only managed to neck two double G&Ts and a glass of french dry white. He must have snuck on his own, note to self for next time.

When they eventually managed to calm him down and upgrade him (unbelievable) to the empty World Traveller Plus section he came back to us cattle in The World Traveller section (economy to everyone but BA) and insisted we should all upgrade ourselves to “2nd class ’cause it’s f*cking empty”, I felt like I was on the Titanic in steerage. Although his offer was extremely tempting, especially if they gave into his demand of unlimited vodka and cokes, but no way was I moving from my leg room luxury.

Better than World Traveller Class Plus even with free vodka

Delhi is absolutely mental, dirty and a major hassle. I crashed out when I first got into my bed at a cosy 16 degrees (thanks air-con), woke up three hours later and thought I should probably venture outside. A walk to the end of the road and I encountered a police riot; I thought the hassling tout was lying when he told me to go to Connaught Place the other way because it wasn’t safe. From what I could gather and from what i’ve been told as the word has spread about town, the government decided to rip down some illegal shops. Very exciting. So I took the advice of my con-man friend and walked the long way round. I can’t remember how many random mens’ hands i’ve shaken already today and i was only out for a couple of hours. There was the mobile phone shop owner, the student who got married at 16  from Jaipur and the fake tourism office man that was definitely approved by the Government of India.

I’ve also had my first taste of Indian food, a tasty vegetarian thali that was just as good as Masala Zone and it was only 80 rupees! It seems like i’ve achieved a lot so far so I am going to get back on it and do even more.