My winter 2018 trip to Asia. Day 1. Delhi, India

This is my first trip to India. I had a 11 hours stop at Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL). So, I decided to apply for an e-Visa and visit Delhi while in transit.

The Delhi Airport Metro Express is a very convenient way to get from the airport to the city. Once in the New Delhi station, I walked to the National Museum. During this one hour walk, I experienced several interesting particularities of the city.

New Delhi station sign and part of the platform.

As you approach the station people starts to take the phones and keys out of their pockets. You will do the same as soon as you get used to it. All metro stations have security checkpoints. The faster way to pass by is to put your bagpack in the scanner and have everything metallic in your had. A quick check and you are in. The first time, I had to take out of my pockets the GPS, phone, and keys as the metal detector beeped.

Once at the New Delhi station I looked at my GPS and started the route that I had planned. Even that the poverty is apparent, in no moment I felt unsafe. The most dangerous part of the visit is to cross the streets. Cars will pass by ignoring most of the transit signs. The trick is to put all your senses on the road, pass with confidence, and listen to the honking. From the constant sound of the honking, you can understand “I’m here watch out”, “Pass fast”, or “I’m not going to stop, so better don’t try”. I will not recommend walking in the city. 

Another part of the experience is that people will approach you to try to lure you to their shops or to hire a ride. As I continued walking the driver of an auto rickshaw offered a ride for 200 rupees, then 50, and finally 20 as I was walking away. Another man talked with me for 10 minutes, while I just smiled and continued walking. He left me alone only when I went down the metro station (and went up on the other exit as I wanted to walk all the way to the National Museum). Tourists are a good source of income and the effort is worth their time. When I was young, in Spain people will call tourists “guiris“. It is a despective name to describe tourists with pockets full of money and a total lack of knowledge about prices. So, I can understand how they see me as I pass by.

Stray dog in front of the road.
Street dog close to
the Parliament House and Secretariat Building.

Close to the Secretariat a guy dressed in formal clothes gave me some advice on what to do in that part of the city. And make sure that I knew that a normal price for an auto rickshaw is 20 rupees, no more.  Probably he was frustrated with people trying to take advantage of tourists and he was willing to help. It was a very nice gesture. 

Me in front of the India Gate. There is fog.
A lot of fog and the India Gate

After one hour of walking and crossing roads, I arrived to my destination. The National Museum of Delhi is a place worth visiting. Even that some of the exhibitions are not very well maintained and a few were closed, there is a lot to see.

After the visit to the Museum, I had some time left. My original plan was to do a quick visit the Red Fort. But the stress of walking around, the noise, people approaching you, and the pollution and a fog that limited the view made me change my plans and I went back to the airport.

The visit was a very good experience overall. The next time I visit Delhi, I will plan it accordingly using what I have learned.