Saturday, June 24, 2017

Back in Delhi.


Hard to believe that our visit to the Taj Mahal is over.  Although we had seen it twice at sunset and once at sunrise, all from the vantage point of the Yamuna River, nothing compared to seeing it upclose as we did this morning.  I always say it's a place that you have to visit in your lifetime.  For me, I've been lucky to see it twice and maybe fate will bring me back yet another time.

After the Taj, we made our way back to the Aman Homestay.  We say goodbye to Saeed and see you later to Dinesh.  We then headed inside for a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast and then upstairs to finish up our packing.

It was barely 9:15a when we hit the road.  Chantale got in the car and told Dinesh, "no more photos".  He drove barely 50 feet when she told him to stop the car.  She had caught sight of a man getting his hair cut in a barber shop and wanted to take a photo.  Admittedly, I also took a shot of the man.  So much for "no more photos".  We all had a good laugh and I told Dinesh that he should be prepared for more stops.  At the rate we're going, it'll be dark by the time we reach Delhi. ­čśü


Next stop was one made by Dinesh.  He saw some of his friends and stopped the car to chat for a few minutes.  Dinesh is from Agra so no surprise he crossed paths with someone he knows.



It was a straight drive until Chantale spotted the people working in the rice field.  So Dinesh stopped the car and we got out to take some photos. 



We were spotted and when we waved, we got smiles back.  Realize that I'm using all 300mm of my zoom lens to take this photo so that's how far away the workers were standing.  I don't know how they thought we would see their smiles.  In any case, it was nice to capture the look of a friendly face.


Before we got back in the car, poor Dinesh had a moment of panic.  He realized that he did not have his name badge on.  We didn't realize how big a deal it was to not have his ID badge on until he told us that he would lose his job over it.  So, we all started to panic for him.  Eventually, he did find it in his bag and with a VERY big sigh of relief, he pinned it to his shirt pocket.  If he hadn't found it, I was prepared to talk it over with his boss.  God only knows how many times I've shown up to work without my ID badge.

Surprisingly, there were no more stops all the way to Delhi.  Once we got into the city limits, Dinesh turned to be our tour guide, pointing out landmarks all along the way.


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At one stop light, I noticed the information board that pointed out the air quality index for today and tomorrow.  Same rating both days.  Very poor.


It was almost 2p when Dinesh pulled out car up to the front entrance of the Red Fox Hotel in the Aerocity area near Indira Gandhi International Airport.  I had booked us into an airport hotel versus staying downtown as tomorrow morning, we have to catch our flight to Ladakh.  Once he had gotten all our bags out of the trunk, we said our thank you's and goodbye's to Dinesh.  He had been with us for several days and was a really safe and careful driver.  We agreed to tip him well.

I got us checked in and settled into our rooms.  Chantale and I shared one and we gave Ay┼če her own room. The hotel is a nice hotel, fancy by the standards of the places we've been staying in so far.  It offers plenty of amenities so I figured Ay┼če might take advantage of the spa.

It was early afternoon by the time we arrived at the hotel and we were all hungry - breakfast had long passed through our systems.

As Dinesh driving through Aerocity, looking for our hotel, I had spotted some signs for food courts.  We decided to check one out, which just so happened to be across the street from the hotel.

Aerocity seems to be populated mainly with airport hotels and office buildings.  It's pretty sterile place with little activity taking place on the streets.  So unlike the hustle and bustle of downtown Delhi.

Some of the hotels here are pretty high end and it seems like there's a lot of security around.  We even had to go through a check to enter the building that housed the Worldmark 1 foodcourt we were heading to.

Inside, we followed the signs leading to the foodcourt which was up a few flights.  Indeed, it was a food court and it offered all sorts of options - from Indian, to Italian, to Chinese.  We kept with the Indian theme.   We walked around and finally settled on a South Indian street food place named Bikanervala because it was the most crowded.  We figured it must be good.  Turns out the place is a popular chain in India.

I told the gals they would enjoy South Indian snacks....words spoken by someone who knows that's true because she's eaten A LOT of South Indian snacks.  Of course, didn't hurt that for me, I had spotted the samosas and so far, I've not had one.  It would be against all rules for me to come to India and leave without having eaten a samosa.  I pointed a few items out to them and then left them on their own to explore the food.  Sometimes it's good to just try without bias from someone like me who has distinctive likes and dislikes when it comes to South Indian street food and snacks e.g., I don't do anything that has raisins and surprisingly, I'm not a real yogurt fan.

I ordered my samosas and then headed off to find a table.  The gals had spotted someone eating a poori so I knew they would order that.  No doubt, some mango lassis as well. 



Sure enough, the lassis came to the table.


Then the pooris which were served with some chutneys.  I was expecting some dal.


Then my samosas.  I would not have expected the raj kachori but here it was.  I think that the fact that it is very much like an oversized pani puri would have been enough to tempt Ay┼če to get it - she has fallen in love with pani puri.


And then a real surprise.  Bhel puri.  I think in a single shot, the girls covered the best of South Indian street food!


The snacks were quite tasty.  There was a lot of food so we ate what we could.  I most certainly enjoyed my samosas, dipped into coriander chutney. 


There's really nothing to see or do in Aerocity.  I swear there's not even a tree....seriously.  They really should develop this area to add in some more activities for tourists.  There appear to be some high end shopping malls but a park or two would be nice although with the miserable heat and humidity today, we wouldn't take advantage of them any way.

We headed back to our rooms and it felt so weird to not have Ay┼če with us so I called her and invited her to come down to our room.  Poor Chantale was still dealing with her father's health issues.  It had been 10 days since he was admitted to the hospital and he was not progressing well.  So I put her in contact with my sister to get advice on next steps.  While they were chatting via Facetime, Ay┼če and kept ourselves busy.  Eventually, she fell into a deep sleep - I think jet lag is finally catching up with her.  Hopefully, she will get a good night's rest.

We decided to skip dinner given the huge lunch we had.  So, when it was time for sleep, we sent Ay┼če back to her own room.  I had to wake her up.  I just hope that she didn't have too long a nap.  Otherwise, she would have difficulty falling asleep.  She needs to get back to a proper sleep pattern.

In any event, our GoAir flight to Ladakh leaves tomorrow at 8:40a and the hotel has arranged for a taxi to come and pick us up at 6:30a.  Even though we are just about a 10 minute drive from the hotel, I want to get to the airport early as I want to leave time to clear security which can often be a challenge at IGA.  After 10 days in the hot, hazy, humid Jaipur, Delhi, and Agra, I am looking forward to some cool air in Ladakh!

Goodnight from Delhi!