Thursday, 4 February 2010

16th/17th November – Guwahati to Delhi and Finally Home…

Everyone woke early and we walked down to the riverfront to view a fish market that was in full swing since before dawn. Phil had been since before dawn and had been taking pictures of the weird fishes that lay glistening on the sand or in metal trays.
We walked from the fish market to another market nearby that was full of aromas and strange looking stuff amidst more recognizable produce. After taking photos and wandering about for a bit it was time to head back to the hotel for lunch and then our trip to the airport.
Chris and Rup were staying on an extra day as their flights didn’t leave until tomorrow but Phil, Bob and I were due to fly today. We hugged our goodbyes and were driven to the airport.
Check-in was straightforward and we took off on schedule. The flight to Delhi took us by the Himalayas again and we were treated again to a fabulous view of a low sun hitting the snowy mountains horizontally above and below the clouds.
We landed and said goodbye to Phil, who was due to fly shortly and then Bob and I were taken to another hotel for a night before flying early tomorrow. The taxi driver had no idea where the hotel was and Bob tried to give him directions in Hindi but failed. We eventually phoned the hotel on Bob’s mobile and let the driver speak to them directly. This didn’t seem to work either.
After searching the unmarked and teeming alleys of Karol Bagh for 20 minutes, I recognized the hotel where we had stayed the last time and asked the driver to stop. I told him to wait while I went into the hotel to see if they knew where the hotel we should be staying in was. They didn’t so I walked back out to find the taxi and Bob had gone.
I looked around me and realized I had absolutely no idea where I was. I walked to the end of the alley and still was completely lost. I considered my options: I had my passport and tickets and wallet so could probably find my way to the airport eventually. But I only had a couple of rupees and wasn’t able to use my cash card of visa as far as I knew. After about ten minutes of looking, thinking, panicking, calming down, thinking and then just looking, a horn sounded and I turned to see the taxi driver behind me. I spread my arms wide in a ”Where the fuck have you been?” gesture and glared at him as I got back in the taxi. Bob said that he’d told the man to stop but he’d just driven away and stopped about a block away for no reason and waited. Eventually he just decided to drive back to the hotel to find me. His actions were a complete mystery.
After more phone calls we eventually found the right hotel. After we had offloaded our bags the taxi driver looked at us for a tip and I felt like hitting him. Bob searched for his best Hindi - “No!”.
We had a late supper and slept for a while before another telephone alarm call dragged us and our bags down to the foyer. A waiting taxi drove us through a waking Delhi to the airport and we checked in for the early morning flight to the U.K.
An uneventful flight took us to Dubai where we killed time looking at various duty free offerings in the vast Emirates terminal. It really is too big for itself and takes forever to walk around. Another uneventful flight took us from Dubai to Gatwick where we landed in a cold November evening at 18:00.
I said goodbye to Bob at the train station and staggered under the weight of my rucksack onto the train bound for Clapham Junction and then Dorset. At Gillingham station, a taxi met me and took me the last few miles home where I slumped contentedly into my sofa. The house was freezing so I put the fire on to warm up.
I skyped Claudette and with a hot cup of tea chatted to her for ages. It was so good to hear her voice and to know that she would be with me in two days time.
I’d better tidy the house…

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