Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Delhi dreaming...

A couple of years ago I went to Delhi, India, with work. It was a fantastic trip, really eye opening. I found this little piece I wrote on part of the trip and thought I would post it, a couple of years on. What has this got to do with sports, you ask, well, there is a funny little section on the India v Pakistan cricket showdown, so there!

Anyway - enjoy!

I can’t take this politeness anymore.
I yearn for a narky barman to shout ‘I said five euros!’ at me while handing me a pint. I can’t take anymore of this ’90 Rupees please Sir, thank you’ (about one euro fifty) when getting my Tiger beer served to me. On a couple of days I have had lunch delivered, and the delivery guy actually bows on his way out of the room, I mean come on. Not a little nod of the head either, a huge sweeping bow. These have to be far and away the politest people in the world. It’s hard not to be in a good mood in the morning, the gauntlet of truly friendly ‘Hello good morning Sir’s’ you have to get through to get to your taxi.

I am going to strike up a conversation with the doorman before this trip is up, he’s beyond cool. He is huge and has those massive bushy whiskers and a big, colourful Sikh turban. I just know he used to be a Sergeant in the British army. You can almost hear him saying ‘Come on lads, look lively, for King and country! We’ll be back in Delhi by Christmas!!’

This hotel is unbelievable. The level of service is simply out of this world.

I’m going to have to meet the person who cleans my room in the morning at some stage, the job they do is unreal, they actually rearranged my toiletries after I dashed off to work one morning leaving them in a mess, assorted drugs scattered around the place, razor in the sink. When I got back the drugs (you know standard stuff, Larium, Aspirin, anti histamines, two pounds of cocaine) were arranged in alphabetical order, the cap was back on the shaving foam.

The food. Lord, the food. I have been monitoring my weight (there is a scales in the bathroom) and I would be surprised if I don’t put on a few pounds, the food is so rich and tasty. There are four different restaurants in the hotel, and room service brings your choice straight to your room in less than twenty minutes.

If that’s not good enough, the snacks in the mini bar are ridiculously cheap and terrifyingly tasty. I basically clean it out on a daily basis. What can I say, heat makes me hungry.

And boy is it hot. It’s around 90-100 degrees every day. Tomorrow I am setting up camp by the enormous big blue pool out back. May even get in a couple of times to try to ease the guilt of these enormous, rich meals by doing a few laps.

All this Western decadence! It really doesn’t take long to be right back in reality, the hotel is smack in the middle of a pretty run down area. Delhi is really hard to figure out. It’s so messy, so unplanned by the looks of it. There is no discernible pattern to it at all. The place where I work, Noida, seems to be fairly commercial, I have taken a few strolls at lunch time to satisfy any thirst for exploration. The shops are basically all garage type shacks with those pull down doors. Each one has a huge rectangular sign above it with a simple description. I might have to check out the ‘Beer shop’ on Monday. I will probably give the ‘Karate shop’ a miss (did they mean to put ‘Karate chop’?!).

I didn’t think there were sidewalks at all but there are, they are kind of sunken right in front of the shops, and they are alive with people, guys making food, beggars, side street barber shops. The latter consist of one guy and a kind of a box with all his scissors and razors sitting on it. Only for the brave I would imagine. I’m just thinking, what if he’s shaving you and a car beeps its horn right beside him or something? The horns. God they just don’t stop. I still can’t believe I haven’t been involved in a 27 Car, Truck and Moped pile up on the sector 18 highway to Noida. Its pure mayhem. I think it is the perfect example of chaos theory, everyone drives so crazy and with such abandon that accidents actually don’t happen as often as you think they should. Yep, that’s got to be it.

So for those of you following at home, India have arrived in Pakistan for their massive showdown. I have seen Red Sox v Yankees. I have seen Sunderland v Newcastle, the Manchester Derby, Ireland v England in all sports. They are all an episode of the Tellytubbies on a Saturday Morning compared to this in terms of intensity. I don’t know how many guys I saw carrying cricket bats with them today, clutching them like they would be able to help India win from here. In a country with whatever, 1 billion people, it is literally all anyone wants to talk about. It actually nearly proved the catalyst towards the first conversation between my driver and I. I’ll get back to that. On a somber note, but just to give some idea of how big this game is over here, the atrocity in Madrid was a very, very poor second to the game on the front page of the newspapers. If it hadn’t been for CNN in the hotel I would hardly have known what happened actually, showing just how far away and just how different a place this is. Same way I imagine we would turn something of a blind eye to something of that magnitude happening here in Delhi.

On a lighter note, I woke up agitated a few nights ago wondering what all the noise was and ready to go in and kick the crap out of my neighbors for playing such loud drums so loud late at night. Then I realized it was outside. My room overlooks the big garden in the back where the pool is and there was a huge function on of some sort. There were drummers playing really cool music, huge tables full of food, and hundreds of people milling around in really colourful clothes. I actually ended up sitting on my balcony for a while watching it.

A religious procession passed the hotel yesterday too, and that was equally noisy and colourful.

Oh, my driver. He had said a total of about twelve words in the days leading up to today, when he tried to break the silence in a two pronged attack. First he brought up the cricket.

‘You like cricket?’ I told him I did and that I was hoping India would beat Pakistan whereupon he just started shouting and beeping his horn (no change there) and looking generally excited. I think that was the equivalent of Will Ferrell in Old School shouting ‘You know it, you know it!’. Anyway, after that little burst of excitement we went back to our usual silent trip through this crazy city, bar for my driver trying to find a decent radio station. At one stage Justin Timberlake came on and he shouted a few nasty sounding things at his dashboard and turned the radio off for good. I wanted to say that I think he made the right choice, I hate him too but he just looked too pissed off. God I don’t even know his name.

So where to from here. Six more days in Delhi. The side of the pool is going to be seeing allot of quality Cormac time tomorrow, then Sunday I might make my way to this ‘Red Fort’ that I have been reading about, little bit of history and all that.

Hope you all have a good weekend. Peace out from the Park Royal Hotel.




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