Travelogue: The place that was - Delhi


Any place where a girl who is hotter than the hottest North Indian girl in Chennai comes and asks you, "Hotel Oh Delhi kahan hae?" must be a great place. OH DELHI! It took me couple of moments to realize that she indeed was asking the question to me. Only when she asked the question for the second time I could hear more than 'Oh Delhi' because it was the only two words which were reverberating in my ears till then.

Photo of Delhi, India by Vikram Mn

Once we got ready we took the luggage from my relatives place and started to Akshardam. It was a beautiful place but was heavily commercialized. What I like about temples is their sculptures but the temple hardly had any. With mosaic flooring and flood lights the place looked more a museum than temple to me.

We partied that night with me having a couple of tequila shots and rest their own favorites. Nothing much to boast off. We settled in our home late night and got ready for our Agra trip the next day. I had a severe headache when I got up. I somehow managed and reached the bus just on time. All were old people from Tamil Nadu in the bus so we didn't have much fun. Good for me as I slept the whole journey. They had played Ek Tha Tiger in bus it seems, the rest of the guys were discussing how comic it was and teasing Balaji for wanting the coat which Salman was wearing.

We had breakfast in a 3 or 5 star restaurant in the morning. Was decent enough, not of the standards on Om Saravana Bhavan but costed the same. We went to Mathura temple first where we had a guide whom no one could understand. His English was like Hindi and Hindi like English so we were flummoxed. Again I settled for an hours sleep and went to Agra fort. This time we had an awesome guide who looked awesome and also had an amazing knowledge about the place. Agra fort was decent. The first hazy glimpse of Taj Mahal from there was bewildering. Other than that and few clicks there was nothing much to look around.

We went to a handicraft shop from there; again I wasn't much interested of it. Balaji bought a Taj Mahal for around 1000 rupees there I guess and we had terrible yet costly lunch at a nearby 3 star hotel. The old man who sat next to Karthik seemed to have had parotta for 35 rupees in a road side shop it seems. We were craving for it.

Our next stop was Taj Mahal. The one place we were eagerly looking forward too. Once we went inside the red building entrance and saw Taj Mahal it was a feeling that couldn't be described in words. We took a lot of time there by clicking pictures at every juncture as we neared the place. But once we went into the Taj Mahal to see Noor Jahans crematory we got dejected. We expected much more, don't know how to say but we expected something more spectacular. Then we took the bus and returned home. It was darn cold outside. My back bone got rigid because of the temperature difference as soon as I got down from the bus. We decided not to party and settled for a fast food restaurant on the way to our hotel. We had terrible fried rice and Seekh Kabab there and went for rest.

The third and final day in Delhi was the most amazing one. After a good night's sleep we went to Kareems near Jama Masjid along with aunty. I bet no one can make better Tandoori chicken than them. Along with it, Seekh kabab and Mutton Bura too were amazing. Briyani didn't satisfy our taste though. That one lunch was enough for us to have only two meals for the next two days. Of which one is orange juice from Nagpur.

We roamed in Red fort, it was bigger and boring that Agra fort. Gladly enough we got a taxi for rupees 150 to go to station. We waited there and was so damn irritating to see guys flirting with an attu piece, Tamilians of course. At that time the temperature was 8 degree but we were not feeling cold at all. Seena and Prasanna went outside the station and had Kothu parotta along with Balaji while Karthik and I were safeguarding the luggage.

The return train journey again was similar to our onward train journey with cards and kalais. We were welcomed by nice coovam smell and humidity once we entered Chennai border. On top of it Balaji lost his shoe. So it was not such a great end to our journey but no regrets as what happened towards the end was barely negligible.

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Our much awaited event of last year was sandwiched between our stay in Delhi. I remember the first time I went to Delhi. Bread omelet in the morning and curd rice in the noon. As a person who loves travelling and journey equally I was much looking forward to two day train travel to Delhi. We started on a Monday morning, the day before Christmas, the bus travel from my house to station took just half an hour, the roads were empty, bus was empty etc. According to the bus drivers the emptiness were attributed to the crowd who had already used the two holidays before that, thus making it a four day holiday. A fact. But the scene in Central was no different than the ordinary days.

Balaji, Karthik, Prasanna, Seena and I were sent off by parents and siblings of the trio Karthik, Prasanna and Seena. It just took ten minutes for us to get into the monotony of laughter. However monotonous it might me it never ceases to amaze me. Seena and Balaji form a terrific combo backed by Karthik and Prasanna. I'm the loner of the five here but that doesn't stop me from occasionally teasing one or the other. It was equally enjoyed by everyone. Thanks to my magnanimity and of course because of the 10 year break I wasn't as close to them as they were with each other. But this is just for the writing. Otherwise we were equally enjoying.

Karthik was in 3/4 th and everyone were teasing him that he has not got outside Arakonam but seems he is the only guy who has gone to Delhi out of them four. The first night in train was cold but was bearable. I purposefully didn't take out by blanket as I wanted to get acclimatized to the cold. Winds were oozing into the compartment, thanks to the invisible holes. Though I felt cold I somehow managed and came through the night. The next day's journey went in style, thanks to the playing cards. After rounds and rounds of Bluff, Ace etc we settled for the night's sleep. In between cards we got down in most of the stations and had everything that was available. As I haven't traveled long distance in a while barring Pune I didn't know that the food quality in train had deteriorated so much. The food was plain yucky, worse than the meals they show in Anniyan. So we had to settle for the food in station. It's not that what we got in station was sumptuous but was way better than the stuff we got in train. It was costly as well as uneatable.

The highlight of all the food that we got outside was the Orange juice in Nagpur. While Karthik and Balaji had gone there before me to the juice shop and were making faces while drinking the juice. I went there and had the same juice in a gulp in spite of their warning. To their surprise I loved it. They didn't like because they had added chat masala in the juice. What they were calling as ajinamoto. Poda naangalam peruchaliyayae thooki potu thooru varavanga, ithu enna jujube. Once I had the juice I packed three for the friends who were lazy to move their asses and come outside. I asked for few more masala and took it in a cup. Being an over enthusiastic person I mixed the juice with the masala without knowing that the juice already had enough masala in it. If not for me the rest of the guys would have spitted the juice. They all combined and had one cup and I had the rest. In addition to it we had a duplicate cool drink which gave a rotten smile. God!

Once we got on the second day morning we were eagerly awaiting for Delhi station, only to be disappointed of the four hour delay. Through the window all we could see was mist. "Enna orae pani mootama iruku" was our general feeling. Karthik received a scathing look from Seena when he said "enne da nama ooru margali masam mathiri thana iruku." Then Seena almost fainted when he saw someone bathing in cold water in a hand pump in that weather.

After all the eventful happenings we reached Delhi and went to my relatives place. A small apartment in the second floor. We badly wanted to go by metro but were advised by them not to as it'd be very crowded. The auto driver took 80 rupees per auto for our journey from station to Karol Bagh. I thought it was a robbery as the place was very nearby. Autowallas are autowallas no matter what. We were welcomed by hot idli and red chatni. It felt amazing. I gulped around 8 idlis and then my most unfavorite part, shopping, was in the agenda of the remaining lot. Balaji was the most enthusiastic out of the lot. I was barely interested. I was looking for various things to eat.

After shopping, their shopping, we reached home and refreshed. Without knowing the water scarcity in their home we all took bath and the rest started their photo session in the terrace. We started from there well before time, this time in a single auto after lessening our luggage. The ride in auto was nothing short of spectacle, he whizzed past all the traffic in a jiffy and reached the station in half an hour in spite of full traffic. When asked, "aap aise hi chalathe hae kya" he replied, "aisa hi chalana padtha hae."

Our first witness of Old Delhi happened then. It was a wonderful site to see everything I craved for was there in the streets of Old Delhi. The place was shabby yes but that's I loved about it, especially the hanging chicken. The station too was dull and shabby but had McDonalds much to the happiness of Balaji. We had French fries there and boarded our train to Pathankot. The train even though smaller than Tamil Nadu express was better and clean than the former. Added to it we had a couple of chicks in the next coupe and one directly opposite to us whom Seena made eye contact throughout the night. She too reciprocated but it stopped without any further improvement.

Then after our lovely Himalayas trek our return journey from Pathakot to Delhi was annoying thanks to the cold we had to bear while waiting in the station. I was sad too as the trek had got over but everything stayed only till the next day morning. Once we reached our hotel in Delhi we were more than warm. We had a nice room with cozy bed, good water heater facility at a walk able distance from Metro station.

We reached the hotel by taking Metro. Our first glimpse of metro was amazing. I loved the Delhi crowd, not only the ladies. In spite of us having huge bags and shoving them with it and not knowing the language they didn't make any face instead were commenting happily. Our first metro experience was awesome. I decided that we had to go in Metro from then on to whichever place we go.

We spotted Om Saravana Bhavan hotel (not to be confused with Hotel Saravana Bhavan) on the way to our hotel. Everyone unanimously decided to have breakfast there. The roundabouts were we stayed had Tamil hotels in predominance. We went there and had mini tiffin for 100 rupees. Seena was the happiest of the lot. After rounds and rounds of chapatti which he didn't enjoy at all he was very satisfied with Pongal and Coffee and Vada and what not. We got a dizzy feel which could be attributed only to south Indian foods. And boy how we loved it!