Archive for March, 2012

India – Gets an unexpected grip on you!

Back to Edinburgh and back to the daily grind!  A week on and I have found the time to reflect on my trip to India now that it has fully taken grip.

If I’m being completely honest, I couldn’t wait to get back to Scotland and all my home comforts and luxuries, such as being understood and getting the things I ask for!  India, while you’re there, is a challenge and although, yes, they do speak English, we don’t understand each other.  In addition, I was slightly under the weather the whole time I was there and this in part was due to the pollution, so imagine my feeling the minute I stepped off the plane into the crisp, fresh Scottish air.  One of the most noticeable luxuries being home is the amount of open space and calmness in the streets.

India is crazy busy and you are constantly surrounded by noise.  I dont think we slept our first week in Kolkata due to our room facing the street and noise keeping us awake all night and into the morning.  The truth of this matter is that India, no matter where we went, was over populated!  I won’t even mention the mosque’s next to our hotels and the call to prayers at unGodly hours!  In keeping with this is the fact that as a tourist, you are unable to walk down a street without being hassled in one way or another, furthermore, being a foreign women, this hassle is times a hundred!  In India, there is a concerning phenomenon called ‘clicking’ which is the art of taking random photos of women on your mobile.  I am yet to discover the real purpose of this, but I can certainly pass judgement and say it is creepy, very weird and extremely rude!  In addition, I read one day in the India Times that India was the 4th most dangerous country for women, lagging only behind Afghanistan, The Congo and Pakistan.

Next is the amount of garbage on the streets of India, in particular the bigger cities and poorer areas.  It is shocking to go see the Taj Mahal in all it’s glory, only to step out into Agra and garbage up to your armpits:  you’d think they’d make more of an effort to impress the millions of tourists passing through year after year.  this is apparent across all of India and I can only imagine this is the result of overpopulation and lack of government spending on proper sanitation and waste disposal.  That said, Nepal was much cleaner, yet poorer and i have been to a number of other poorer countries and never experienced filth like this, so I am inclined to believe this is somewhat of a cultural disfunction.

India is also strangled by unnecessary bureaucracy that makes no sense and is sure to send even the calmest of us over the edge, I think in one hotel I had to fill in about 5 forms just to stay for one night!… And don’t get me started on buying a train ticket again…

Leaving India, I wasn’t sure if I’d go back, but on reflection having returned to the comfortable west, I can honestly say that I will definitely go back, because in spite of all its issues and idiosyncrasies, India is in fact an incredible place!  The people there for the most part are fun and friendly and its sad that the odd few bring them down.  They have a vast culture changing from region to region and many parts are incredibly beautiful.  Ican only say that when I do go back, I will hopefully use the knowledge gained from this trip and do things a bit differently next time round.



Final stop on our world tour of Nepal and India was Delhi.  In all honesty, neither of us were excited about going to Delhi, especially having witnessed the filth and stench of the other big cities we visited, including Kolkata, Jaipur and Agra.  Our only goals in Delhi were to visit the Red Fort and eat at a restaurant named Moti Mahal, as recommended by Gordon Ramsay and apparently the origins of famous UK curries such as Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala!  With these activities in mind, we booked accomodation at The Broadway Hotel located on the cusp of Old Delhi and New Delhi and just 5 minutes walk from the unimpressive Delhi Gate.

Hotel Broadway run special offers if you book online, we got a free bottle of Indian red wine, cookies, dinner and a free cycle rickshaw ride around the market in old Delhi and all for £80 a night.  We got all of these things, except the cycle rickshaw tour was a bit of a let down, basically they pay for the driver to drop you off qt the end of the road and you have to walk it from there, but they did offer to pay our return fare!  After a few weeks in India, you find yourself succumbing to the organised chaos, constant misunderstandings and realise that to enjoy yourself, you simply need to lower your expectations, or better yet, have none at all!  Moti Mahal is a good example of this.

Before our trip we watched Gordon Ramsays three part series of cooking in India and in part & he is taken to Moti Mahal by one of Indias top food critics.  Gordon praised the cooking and highly recommended you go there if in Delhi, so we did and despite the staff being nice, the food was mediocre and the restaurant itself falling apart with bits of the roof collapsing, dodgy toilets and it was a bit drab.  However, it wasnt the worst food weve eaten qnd probably worth visiting as its fairly cheap and very very famous!

The Red Fort is a must, but the Ghandi Memorial is somewhat understated with not much to see.  The old Delhi bazaar is definitely fun to walk around and there is a mass of everything you could ever need running along long streets and tucked into tiny backstreets and hidden alley ways, it is also just fun to watch the absolute craziness of everyday life there.

Moti Mahal, as recommended by Gordon Ramsay in "Gordon's Great Escape: India"