MARK: Delhi residents were today suffering from a triple wammy of bad news, reports Yorkshire Post Senior Correspondent Mark Bailey. An outbreak of the deadly Dengue fever (mosquito mayhem) has resulted in 980 reported hospital cases of fever like conditions in just two days. Public and low paid workers today (Wednesday) went out on strike to try and raise their minimum wage from 7,100 Indian Rupees a month (£71) to 15,000 INR (£150) – AS PER STEVE ELLIOTT EXCHANGE RATE 13/9/2015 AMMENDED. And high pressure in Northern India has created a dense smog cloud over the centre of the city. Health Authorities have issued a severe health warning and believe conditions will only improve when rain is forecast next week and Mr and Mrs Bailey have left town.
Welcome to India Mark and Sarah!
These and other stark headlines greeted us over breakfast on our first morning, as we scanned our free copy of the Hindustan Times. But hey, we’re Brits and we weren’t going to be put off as we headed through the back streets into the middle of Delhi from our hotel near the main railway station.
It soon became clear though, that near 40C heat mixed with car, lorry and bus fumes do mess with your breathing and make you cough all the time. So we decided to flag down a Tuk Tuk and head off to Chandni Chowk the notorious central market where quite literally anything goes. We agreed a price of 100 rupees (£1) for the three mile trip. But after no more than 300 metres, a “smart guy” jumped on the front of the TT by the side of the driver. We set off again, only for the TT to mysteriously “break down” just 200m down the road…
It then dawned on us. Our Tuk Tuk Driver was a strike breaker. Mr Smart Guy was a “Union Convenor” who had spotted two pinkies literally being taken for a ride. But that was it. Our TT was going nowhere and we were left in the middle of a three lane high way on a bridge over the main railway. So time to be creative and flag down a passing rickshaw driver who did not seem to be affected by the local strike and who was happy to do a deal.
I felt a bit sorry for our peddle boy who was sweating like a pig under the sweltering sun. But it did give me a great opportunity to take a few shots of some beautiful children – see BELOW. Plus we saw what looked like the “Child Catcher’s” van from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This red barred vehicle had six children aboard, with their school bags on top. Delhi – mad and crazy we loved it.
Next up Amritsar, the Golden Temple and the chance to see the strutting Army peacocks at the night time ceremony at Wagah – on the Indian/Pakistan border. That is of course if we survive the seven hour 40 minute train journey tomorrow.
SARAH: This is our second visit to Delhi, but I was still amazed by the smells, the noise, the dirt and this time the full on heat which leaves you very tired after just a couple of hours tramping the streets. This time, on our own DIY Trip, our hotel although perfectly clean and serviceable is in a distinctly dodgy area. Without the comfort and security of the guide and driver we had last year, we both have to admit to feeling slightly more vulnerable. We were given the run around at Delhi Station yesterday, but realised these were scammers trying to say our train had been cancelled and that we had better rebook!!! You need eyes in the back of your head. Had to laugh though when a local Indian immediately identified Mark as being from Yorkshire because of his accent. He then tried to rip us off for an expensive tour, wanting to charge £65 – when we knew we could do it for £6.50. Methinks his decimal place slipped accidentally on purpose.