Here we go…Initially I must admit the first couple of hours in the intensity of this crazy and overpopulated city really made me wonder if we were a little mad bring our children here!
We landed with an unbelievable amount of cloud turbulence into Delhi airport and were straight away hit by the smell/taste of the chalky smog covering the city, the constant beep of vehicle horns and craziness of the roads with tuk tuks, cars and the odd elephant weaving in and out of each other along the busy roads! It felt like all our senses were on high alert, and after a 9 hour flight with very little sleep it felt quite intense!
So I was relieved to arrive at our first home for a few days and be greeted by some smiling faces and a clean modern looking apartment.
I was even more pleased that I had had the forethought to book a driver and guide to take us out to see the city on our first day here! Lav and Jatender arrived early in the morning with cheerful faces warm hand shakes. We set off straight away to towards the old part of Delhi to see the majestic Jama Masjid, a mosque built in 1650ad by the Mughal empire. After a short car journey we then had to walk down a market street to get to the mosque, sellers were beginning to set up their stalls for the day, our first taste of old India!
There was no slipping through quietly, our pale skin and with two blonde haired children in tow I think we were as much an attraction as they were! It can be a little intimidating to have all eyes on you, I was thankful for our guide who led the way and could speak the language!
Reaching the red brick mosque I realised that although I thought I had ticked all the boxes on the appropriate dress, shoulders, knees covered, shawl for any head covering….ah socks! Didn’t think about socks! I knew shoes would be left outside but I didn’t realise bare feet was a no no! So luckily with the help of our guide and the market on the street, 2 mins later Molly and I were sporting some lovely old Marriott slippers!
Inside was a little worn and dusty but beautifully decorative and after a quick history lesson from Lav we had a bit of time to walk around and explore. Queue second lesson of the day….everyone will want to help you but you need to be ready to tip! I think we may have over tipped a chap that took our photo for us, but we soon decided that the £1 was worth a lot more to them than us, so we’d decided to turn a blind eye to it!
The poverty is immense and hard to see especially as a parent, perhaps they too can see it in my eyes! When the barefoot little children with their dusty wild hair and dark eyes run over and pull on my arm asking for money or chapattis it’s so hard to turn them away. I look at my own girls and realise just how lucky and fortunate we are!
After leaving the mosque we took an eye opening tuk tuk ride through the narrow old streets! Market traders rushed along with wooden carts full of all sorts of fresh produced, ox and carts pulled the heavy loads and motorised and peddled tuk tuks weaves in and out with the constant toot of their horns to let everyone know they were there!
From streets selling wedding cards, pots and pans, to kites, fruits and vegetables to flowers and spices! It was fascinating to see! All the while monkeys swung overhead from the strung up jumbled electrical wires….it’s a feast for your eyes and all a little mad! We stopped and walked along part of the market, I think the rich smells are saturated deep into the walls from years and years of trading, you could smell when you moved from the flower market to the rich spice market even before your eyes told you.
On returning to the car we took a speedy tour of India gate, Raj ghat, and the presidential houses, Before visiting the Bila Mandir temple and Guruwara Bangla Sahib Sikh temple.
On visiting the Sikh temple a lovely lady training to be a temple priest gave us a fantastic explanation of the all inclusive faith and explained how their kitchen feeds over 20,000 people for free each day. As well as a trip to the temple we went on a tour of the temple kitchens with its team of willing volunteers preparing and cook chapatis, curries and lentil dishes on an industrial scale! What a sight to see….and Daisy was especially amazed by the size of the wok!
Having walked up quite an appetite ourselves we then stopped for a bit of food at a nearby restaurant…and wow well what a feast! Floury naan breads light and flavoursome curry…nothing like the curries in the Uk! We’re trying to be careful about food but it’s hard not to gobble it all down! So scrummy!
On our way back we stopped at a colourful fabric shop full of beautiful silks, pashminas, and a host of crafts. Saris were being measured and wrapped over customers, suits were being ordered for a next day delivery! We looked at the handmade rugs so exquisite and detailed! Everyone was eager to show us their crafts with a ‘no problem we can ship it to your home tomorrow!’ So far we haven’t parted with our money but I doubt it will be long!
With full tummies we returned back to our little home to digest all the sights sounds and tastes of the first day!