Monday, 24 August 2009

Singing Marmite and tuk tuk's

Delhi. We don't stay in 5 star hotels, thus, we see a different Delhi than the tourist. My room overlooks a very upmarket slum made of brick with another smaller building that serves as a privy come washroom. The man of the house, if I dare refer to it as that, is an ironworker who starts battering, whatever, after the sun has gone down. Now whether this is actual work or his response to the hooting traffic I've no idea but mixed with the local ambulances/come hearses testing their many toned emergency sirens every hour on the hour at least it makes a change from the noise of Ende and motorcycles. The lady of the house runs a small flower stall barely leaving the traffic room to pass. Her strategy is obvious, slow the traffic down, thrust your wares through the window and unless you buy something you won't be getting to that important meeting any time soon.

Ambulance/hearse? That is actually written on both sides of the each of the vehicles that park up, also opposite my room. Bets will be taken as to which job they do most of. The smart money, given the traffic, is my secret. If you want to make money here produce and sell some very loud hooters. European truck horns are baby cries compared to the motorcycle horns here. Even the dogs cower away. Combined with the noise of my puka fan whizzing round but loosing the hopeless battle with the humidity and you have all the ingredients for a non tourist experience in Delhi.

Last night one of the volunteers was invited by her ex-landlady to a private concert she was giving. So, to show support and gratitude 5 of us went with her. Now the singer, whose name was both unpronounceable and unspellable by a stupid European was, by all accounts a world famous Indian Singer who had sang in the USA, Canada and for some reason beyond my limited mental capacity to grasp, Norway. We set off, led by a Romanian volunteer who knew her way to the concert hall as she had been there on a previous occasion. Readers will know my fame for being unable to find my way about. Glory be, I have met my match. For 45 minutes we wandered about looking for what turned out to be a very large and very impressive concert hall. A five minute walk from my luxurious abode took 45 minutes. I take comfort knowing I am not alone.

We took our seats, not at all sure what to expect. The hall was packed. After a 20 minute introduction by the accompanying band the star came on and the show began. I have no problem with Arabian or Indonesian Music. I leave to your imagination my feelings of Indian Music but suffice to say after 40 minutes I was ready to eat a giant sized jar of Marmite, without toast, in one sitting. The audience was very appreciative of her work so I can only assume I must have been the only one in step (sorry, out of step).

We left and found our way to an extremely good eatery where we consumed the requisite curry. For the tourists out there, the dinner for 5 cost £6.50, or to those not fortunate to be British, 6 Euro.

To end my story (about time too, I hear you say) I am now an expert on tuk tuk's. For the ignorant out there they are those funny little 3 wheeled thingies that I think Brighton tried to introduce as a tourist attraction during the holiday season. Their official name is auto rickshaw, of which there are thousands here. Boring bit over, I hired one to take me back from our HQ to my abode. You must remember Delhi is a city of close on if not exceeding, a population of 20 million souls. It would be unreasonable to expect any but a local driver to know where I wanted go, given that HQ is in the suburbs, my abode in the center. But I had a cunning plan. A few minutes away from my room is the tomb of one of the local hero’s here, known by everyone (I was told) by people more knowledgeable than I. Not a difficult thing to achieve. To continue, I instructed the drive to take me to the tomb. Agreeing a price we set off. The journey normally takes around 30 minutes. 30 minutes later we arrive at the Indian International Center. Not where I want to be. I repeat where I want to go. He shrugs, turns round and minutes later we arrive at the tomb. Am I a tuk tuk expert or what? Do not answer that question for fear I will ramble on with even more inane writing.

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