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A graduate of Sports Studies at Paisley University, which is about as rewarding as being the best dancer in the Spinal Unit.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

India part one - Hindi Die Hard Edition

I just haven't had time to post anything since Israel, but as I say about my period, better late than never.

If I was to read directions to my hotel in downtown Delhi, in which ive just arrived at 6am, it would read:
Drive recklessly for twenty minutes, take a right at the skeletal cow, go straight past the family of 24 sleeping on the pavement, carry on until you meet a dog with twelve huge tits, go left at the corner with the street that is made up entirely of rubbish, piss and shit as far as the eye can see and you should spot the hotel straight in front of you. When I say straight in front, you need to traverse several winding alleys that made me think I was about to take part in an illegal Bloodsport-esque fighting tournament.

The previous two weeks living in luxury is now sitting in direct contrast with waking up the next day on a filthy mattress glazed in sweat, eyeball to eyeball with a dead gecko that has been sitting on my dusty bedside table like a fucking ornament. The alley that leads to my hotel is even more charming in the daytime, where you are able to really appreciate the level of poverty here. Imagine the dirtiest street you can. Now piss on it. Then shit on it. And finally vomit on it. And you're about halfway there. Piles of people litter the walls and floors, either sleeping, selling or just existing. There was a wizened old guy conked out in a cupboard, like the one you keep a bucket and mop in (the cupboard, not the guy), that with closer inspection I realised was his entire house. He seems one of the luckier ones. Many are strewn on the pavement where they can find a space, sharing with every conceivable piece of waste both natural and otherwise.

Out on the street in the blistering heat there is so much sweating and spitting I'm surprised the country isn't constantly in the grip of a dehydration epidemic. On the upside, food here is cheap but I would feel pressed to discount too if everything I offered came with the unfortunate risk of shitting your brains through your eyes.
 Ive been warned by everyone that Delhi Belly is simply something you cannot avoid.

The previous stint in Dubai and Abu Dhabi had been fantastic and being where I am now, its with a certain amount of guilt that I tell you about it. I was very lucky to be able to stay with some friends for both weeks. Audrey and Chas the first week followed by Kate and Khaled the second, all of whom spoiled me to within an inch of my life. After the last month and a half on the floor of various places I was thankful to just get a bed, but by the time id left id been (amongst other things) wined and cheesed at the Emirates Towers, gifted a trip up the Burj Khalifa, all-you-can-eat-Sea food-buffeted at a five star hotel, cooked a variety of delicious home cooked meals, given a four wheel drive to use at my disposal, taken to Ferrari World (Over twenty five ways to feel ill, fast), tirelessly ferried around local sights, drank a cappuccino with 24 carat gold sprinkles and taken around Abu Dhabi's various islands on a private luxury boat. Completely above and beyond and I couldn't be more grateful. Genuinely lovely people who i'm especially fortunate to know.

I met an old school friend in Delhi, Suhrid, who took it upon himself to make sure I saw as much of the city as possible and ate at the most favoured (by Delhians) local restaurants, all while getting an in depth education along the way. He was as hospitable as it is possible to be towards another human being, and to his credit, only mentioned the Colonial Rule fourteen times. It was hanging out with his friends at the TLR cafe (think of a chilled three story club populated with infinitely talented creative types, and me trying to relate, my only contribution to artistry being a blog filled with dick jokes and dogs in superhero costumes) that I was suggested Manali as my next port of call. I was fairly close and it would be a shame to get within distance of the Himalayas without seeing them.

 Before then, Suhrid took me to a restaurant that served goat brain curry, the old scamp. I tried a couple of scoops with some naan, and it wasn't terrible and tasted like any other curry. Although If I was given the choice between that and some chicken, the chicken wins hands down. There's a reason brain hasn't made it on to mainstream UK menus.
 In amongst the density, there's some beautiful stuff in Delhi, not least of all, Humayums tomb.
 Just being in the city is pretty unrelenting and it was good to have Suhrid along as a guide. Anyone with a smattering of decency feels for people begging on the street and is tempted to give them something to help. The first thing that hit me was the contrast between the plight of the majority of beggars in Glasgow compared to that of Delhi. Here, you are presented with decision of giving to a man/woman/child with no home, minimal clothing, one or more missing or disfigured limbs/eyes, infected sores and starving, all the while often carrying a child with similar issues while trying to get through the day in 45 degree heat. Glasgow's biggest issue appears to be leaving the house exactly fifty pence short of a bus fare home.

As I bought my ticket, Delhi Belly free, for the 17 hour bus ride to Manali, it dawned on me that for all India's assaults on Western bowels, we owe them. Not just for Colonial Rule and Tech Support but for still not coming up with anything remotely awesome as this: