Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Delhi and Agro

(Qutb Minar on the outskirts of Delhi. The 73m high tower (or minar) in the background is from the 12th Century. Below left is a detail of the beautiful Islamic scroll on the minar, an extract from the Koran)

From Agra I caught the bus to Delhi. I was going to give a lengthy account of all the times people tried to con and scam me on the journey between Agra and Delhi, but I think it would get a bit tedious.

The most impressive moment came when I got to Delhi and went into a 'tourist information office' to ask directions to a hotel I'd chosen. The guy 'recommended' that I check my booking and kindly offered to phone 'someone from the hotel'. The person on the other end of the line told me that unfortunately the hotel was full and suggested perhaps I ask the guy in the office for another hotel? Hmmmmm...

Unfortunately for him, I was suspicious and when he couldn't tell me the address or phone number of 'his' hotel I left pretty sharpish.

Two weeks of travelling in India have made me alive to these kind of shenanigans. (lovely word 'shenanigans' - think it's Irish)

And that was India. I had a few slower days in Delhi before I left. I visited the national museum on my last day. The museum has a fantastic collection of stone and wood carvings. Not usually the sort of stuff that gets me excited but some of the 206,000 exhibits were absolutely beautiful.

The museum also showcases archaeological sights from all over India. I did pretty well to visit six of India's twenty-odd World Heritage Sites but still feel I barely scraped the surface. This is clearly a country where a lengthy visit is needed to see a good portion of the ancient sites.

Thoughts on India... I couldn't recommend India to anyone for a relaxing holiday. Especially when there are so many beautiful and enjoyable places to visit in the world. But if you have the time to travel round India properly and get used to the 'difficulties' there are some fabulous sights - it is definitely in a league of its own.

The last thing I did in India was to go for a haircut. My blonde 'do had gone marmalade orange about a week before - must have been the heat - and I figured a Lionel Blair cut was the only solution.

The following will be lost on anyone not familiar with BBC Scotland's Scotch & Wry.
The late, great Rikki Fulton played a barber called - I think - Malky Broon, who was quite possibly the world's filthiest hairdresser. And as I remember Tony Roper and Gregor Fischer (of Hamlet smoking combover fame) were his regular victims. My 'stylist' for the day was the Indian equivalent (he even had similar teeth).

There was a lengthy delay at the start until a 'number two' razor was found at the back of a dusty drawer. I was then extravagantly swathed in grey sheets (thank the lord the place was air-conditioned), and with much neck-twisting and some fiercesome headholds, I was trimmed to within an inch of my life.

Once all was done and much multicoloured hair was strewn across the floor, chairs and waiting patrons, my head was rubbed down with the grubbiest towel imaginable. The towel had probably been white originally, but many oil-changes later it looked in dire need of a boil wash, at least to get rid of the fried-egg stains.

On the plus side, it was probably the cheapest haircut I've had since the barber stopped using a bowl. And to think that when i was 21 I use to pay 30 pounds at the Rainbow Room in Buchanan Street.

Lastly, the monsoons have come on my last day. The local newspaper has been praying for the monsoon on behalf of its readers, even going as far to say that the weather - 36C and 80% humidity - has been 'unbearable' for locals. Spare a thought for the tourists!

Once again I'm flying off with the bad weather at my heels. I get to Nairobi tomorrow morning where the forecast is a pleasant 20C and sunny.

No comments: