|My arrival in Delhi showed me another side to India that I had yet to experience - Middle Class India. My first two days in Delhi I spent with my friends, Matt and Shawn, two travellers I had met down south who I wanted to see again before they flew back home to Australia. They had a friend in Delhi who was providing them accommodation and also the use of a car and driver. Kindly this offer of hospitality was also extended to me. Oh, how wonderful to be met at Old Delhi train station and whisked off in an air conditioned car. It even had seatbelts - a saftey device I have not seen in a long, long time.
We were staying in Friends Colony, a middle class Indian suburb. The sort of place where people go jogging in the evening and the dogs are well-fed pets on leads, rather than straggly street dogs.
Our first evening we were invited to another friends house for drinks. Pulling up at Monty's home, my jaw actually dropped in amazement. This was palatial, a gated mansion with security guards and a long grand driveway. Once inside this grand abode, a servant attended to our every need - food, drinks, ice-cream. Two days ago I had been drinking chai with a poor family in Bodh Gaya, now I was sipping Bombay Sapphire with wealthy. The contrast was so apparent, but what remained unchanged was the open hospitality - rich or poor, the Indian people are so proud to welcome you into their homes and embrace you as family.
In Delhi it was also a chance for me to meet my actual family. Extended family, Aunty Anita, Uncle Gautham and cousins Nayantara and Sagat. Anita is dad's cousin, who I had met before only once when I was a child, so there was a lot of catchng up to do! I spent a day with them, a bit of shopping, lunch and then back to their house to relax for the afternoon and evening. Seeing yet another side of Delhi, I now found myself in the Defence Colony, a miliatry residency.
This was a perfect day of relaxation and I loved being able to have a family day in a real home again. It was also a day of eating - 3 course lunch, then home for biscuits and birthday cake (Anita's birthday), before another big dinner. Stomach was like a balloon by the time I left. As they are about to move house I couldn't spend longer with them this time, but I will get to know the family better when I return to Delhi at the end of my trip. Some serious shopping has been planned! Anita and Nayantara also plan to meet me in Dharamsala which is one of their favourite places.
26th March - Anna arrived today, so I now have a travel buddy for the next 4 weeks.