Delhi, December 6th
Asia trip 2018-2019
I am traveling to Hong Kong, and I will have a eleven hours stop at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL). So, I applied 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 walk to the National Museum. Delhi is not a pedestrian friendly city, not by any measure.
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 backpack in the scanner and take everything metallic from your pocket into your hand. 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 road signs. The trick is to put all your senses on the road, and pass with confidence. 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 but to take one of the many auto rickshaws.
Time to time a local will approach me to try to lure me 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 a kid, in Spain people would call tourists “guiris“. It was a derogatory term to describe tourists with pockets full of money - marks, crown, pounds, ... - and a total lack of knowledge about prices. So, I can understand how some sellers may see me as I pass by. Wild monkeys and stray dogs are also part of the city landscape.
Close to the Secretariat building a guy dressed in formal attire gave me some advice on what to do in that part of the city. And he 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 was willing to help. It was a very nice gesture.
After one hour of walking and crossing roads, I arrived to my destination. The National Museum of Delhi is a place worth visiting. Exhibits are hosted in a maybe outdated building, but 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 to the Red Fort. But the stress of walking around, the noise, people approaching you, and the pollution that limited the view made me change my plans and I went back to the airport to rest.
The visit was an overall good experience. The next time I visit Delhi, I will plan it accordingly using what I have learned this time around.