I have never experienced anything close to the feeling of walking out of our guest house in Paharganj, Delhi. People EVERYWHERE mixed in with cows, goats, rickshaws, bicycles, cars cooking and shopping - all on a muddy, dusty road. It was utter chaos- but seemed to work just fine. Going across the street for breakfast was an adventure unto itself.
The first day in Delhi, I swear we must have had a sign on our back that said "FRESH MEAT" as we were approached within five minutes with "helpful" people that wanted to show us the way to the tourist centre (read -dodgy travel agency), practice their English and give us tours. We've learned pretty quickly to say we've been to India 10 times and we have been travelling for months already. I'm sure their dubious, but it seems to be enough that formerly interested "helpers" assume you are pretty near broke and not worth pursuing. Works like a charm. Mark also tried to pretend he was French and didn't understand, but this one crafty guy busted out some French and that didn't work out.
We hired a car and driver for most of day 1 and he showed us all the main sites including humayun's tomb, the parliament buildings (the grounds were full of monkeys!), India Gate and much more. It was a good way to ease into India and get to know some of the key places in Delhi. I think we needed a little hand holding after our morning mission. That evening, we sourced out two cold Kingfisher beers, which are quite hard to find, and had a delicious roof-top vegetarian dinner. Mark has been a bit nervous about going veg in India, but so far the food has been filling and really tasty.
Day 2, we ventured out on our own and it was as if our newbie label had been removed. It was amazing! We took the metro to Old Delhi and it was new, clean and air conditioned- better than the London TTC and only 10 rupees! Old Delhi was another world yet again and we just allowed ourselves to be swept up in the business of it all. After a visit to the historic Red Fort, we stopped for some thali before diving into the markets. This pretty much took us to the end of the day as we were engulfed in street after street of specialised merchants. One street would be saris, another machine parts, wedding invitations, butchers, bakers - the list goes on. By the end of the day, our feet were black with dust and we were happy and drained.
6:15 AM tomorrow, we're off to see the Taj Mahal!