We were only supposed to stay in the capital for a day as we were supposed to be heading to Kashmir and then on to Ladakh for a 10 day trip with some good friends. Unfortunately we had a bit of a medical issue on our first night in Srinagar so we made the decision to fly back to Delhi the next morning. Short but sweet.
So, 36 hours after when we left Delhi, we found ourselves back at beautiful Tree of Life, an amazing guesthouse run by our now good friends, Ashwani and Suruchi. After a long and tiring journey, the pair greeted us with open arms, warmth and some really good tea. Magic. They helped us get things in order to deal with our medical needs, made calls, offered us lifts and gave us peace of mind.
Once we had the all clear from the doc, we moved into Life Tree BnB, which is run by Ashwani’s mother, Kanta. In this lovely house, we were treated like family. The kindness and we experienced will remain one of the highlights of our time in India. Oh and don’t even get us started on the breakfasts.
We had only planned to stay in Delhi for another night or two, but as luck would have it, no sooner had we got over one medical blip, another one reared its ugly head. Fortunately, we could not have been in better hands and considering we couldn’t leave the house for a few days, we were very lucky to have a big comfy room and several series of Game Of Thrones to get through while recovering.
Kanta’s house is in Lajpat Nagar II, which has a large Afghani community, meaning that as well as the usual Indian fare, we had the option of delicious Afghani street food too. Every time we stepped outside the house, the smell of fresh flatbread would hit us. Bakers seemed to be slaving away making doughy goodness 24/7. We regularly enjoyed fresh flatbread with delicious and fragrant veg curry from one of the neighbouring stalls. (More about the food we ate in our next blog)
We had visited Delhi before on a previous trip to India and had done the rounds, visiting all of the tourist attractions and wandering through the old city. During the sweltering month of May however, we did not plan to spend our days walking around and spent most of our time enjoying the more local area.
A short walk away from our new abode was the very colourful Central Market, with enough sparkly things on sale to send even the tamest of shoppers into a bit of a trance.
This market had a different feel to many of the other markets we’d been to in India. We didn’t see any other tourists there and we weren’t hustled at all. We’d also picked up a few basic Hindi words which enabled us to interact a little more.
Although we passed on the heart-attack bread, we did not pass on the spicy sweetcorn.
It’s likely we never would have explored this vibrant and exciting area, had the b’n’b not been recommended to us. We truly loved wandering through this neighbourhood, despite average temperatures of around 46°C.
We ended up staying for 10 days, during which, these wonderful people became family.
Despite the circumstances that brought us back to Delhi being related to ill-health, we really felt like we were meant to be there. Everything just kept on falling into place. The people we met, the kindness we experienced, the things we learned. This was certainly the case with the time we spent with Suruchi. On our first day back in Delhi, while kindly accompanying us on a trip to the doctor’s, Suruchi mentioned that she was, among other things, a teacher of philosophy and scriptures. Our ears pricked up instantly and during our time in Delhi, we spent several mornings listening, learning and discussing with Suruchi. We also attended one of her classes at Sivananda Ashram. Although we really only scratched the surface during our short time learning with Suruchi, we found it fascinating and are eager to continue.
One of our favourite outings in Delhi was to the Lodhi art colony
We took so many photos that we’ve saved them all for our next blog post.
We visited the National Gallery of Modern Art on what seemed like the hottest day of the last millennium. Although we admired some truly beautiful artwork, we couldn’t help feeling that the museum itself was quite frankly one of the most lifeless and sterile places we’d been to. While it looked very grand from the outside, the interior was a strange and vast open plan space with security guards staring from above, below, in front and behind.
For our last couple of days, we had the pleasure of Henning’s company, who had returned from Ladakh with beautiful photos to show us and wonderful stories to tell.
Most of our time together was spent attempting to navigate the Indian Postal system as we had all accumulated various things that we wanted to send home. What we thought would be a fairly painless task ended up taking us hours. To send a parcel, we had to find someone who would package everything up, which meant getting it wrapped in white fabric and stitched up. Communication problems meant that we ended up spending an afternoon driving to various corners of Delhi. It would have been frustrating had it not have been so fascinating everywhere.
This sweet and kind rickshaw driver spent hours trying to find someone who could help us. In the end, we ended up getting it done round the corner from where we were staying.
Unlike back in the UK, where everything you need to send your mail is in one place, Indian post offices just deal with the posting and everything else needs to get done separately. When we finally arrived at the post office with our parcels ready to go, all we had to do was send them. Simple, right?
No. This also ended up taking several hours, which wasn’t great since we were due to catch a flight in a couple of hours.
There was only one other customer at the post office when we arrived. Unfortunately, he was posting all of this…
But, what can you do? It was too hot to worry, so we didn’t. And everything got sent off and we caught our flight to Bangkok…