Two amazing weeks and all of a sudden it was here – our final day in India. We had a lazy morning at the Claridges, packing our suitcases for the final time and enjoying the surroundings of the hotel.
We had booked a walking tour of the old city so we checked out, leaving our bags, and headed to the metro. The hotel staff and tuk tuk drivers tried to deter us both from taking the metro and going to Chawri Bazaar but it was actually all quite smooth and easy particularly as we made use of the ladies only carriage at the end of the train. Didn’t stop us getting looked at but it did stop us getting groped!
The old city of Delhi took street chaos to a whole new level. Cars aren’t allowed into its narrow streets but they were teeming anyway with people, tuk tuks, rickshaws, carts. The noise meant you had to raise your voice all the time to be heard.
We were met by DK Sharma from masterjikeehaveli.com, who would be our friend in Delhi for the afternoon, and introduced to the 4 other people on our walk – Karen and Louise who lived in Singapore and were off to a yoga retreat afterwards and Matt and Karen.
The old city is divided into districts that all sell the same thing and we started out, rather randomly, down bathroom fitting street. Jackie remarked that she needed new taps but there weren’t enough hours in the day for that decision. Cushion covers had taken long enough! We ducked down a tiny alley and found ourselves in a little local cafe that I have to admit, I wouldn’t have chosen to enter in a million years.
Next stop was wedding invitation district and I found myself buying some souvenir wedding invites. Some invites were up to 20 dollars each and couples could be sending out 1000 of them all filled with Indian sweets. Goodness only knows what the postage bill would be.
We stepped in through a door to an old Haveli which seemed virtually derelict but clearly still had people living in it. Apparently over 80% of property in Old Delhi is in dispute and as a consequence, is falling into total disrepair.
This old street was a quiet oasis so it was a bit of a shock when we turned left out of it and were plunged into the chaos of the wedding district. DK was getting quite stressed trying to keep us all together, particularly as Louise and Karen were just meandering along doing their own thing. We girls on tour were the good kids at the front of the class!
Leaving the wedding district, DK hailed us cycle rickshaws to take us to the spice market.
After a quick lesson on spices DK took us up a dark, windy staircase and into the spice market. The air was literally full of spice, choking us and making it nearly impossible to breathe without coughing. Men carrying heavy bags of spices crossed us on the stairs, all holding hankies over their mouths. Couldn’t believe this was the one occasion when I wasn’t wearing a scarf!
Time was marching on and we thought we were done but DK had saved us a last surprise. Another tuk tuk ride and we arrived at a beautiful old Haveli, owned by his friend and business partner, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner.
DK walked us back to the metro and we returned to Claridges tired and more than a bit dirty. Fortunately we were able to shower and change before heading to the airport.
And that was it. Our amazing, fabulous, exciting adventure in India was over. We were returning home with suitcases at least 12 kilos heavier than when we set out and memories and scarves to last us a lifetime. A piece of my heart remains in India. I will be back.