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Ooh, Delhi. It is so scary. Pickpockets, thieves, street kids and poverty.  Everyone has told us to get out of Delhi, so as usual, we went into the city with our back against the wall expecting the worse.

Delhi is not so bad.

Sure, the Pahar Ganj area is filthy and over crowded.  Sure the train station is intimidating with its masses of people crowding the platform and sure it is huge!

Pahar Ganj area in Delhi

Pahar Ganj area in Delhi

The population of Delhi is 13,000,000 people!

And yet, we didn’t hate it.

The metro is fast, efficient and clean, the rickshaws are cheap and the city has everything that you need.

There is major construction going on in the city as it prepares for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and hopefully it will meet its deadlines.  Delhi needs a facelift and these games may give it just what it needs.

The Commonwealth Games Oct. 2010, Delhi

The Commonwealth Games Oct. 2010, Delhi

In the main circle of Connaught Place, garbage isn’t too bad and old buildings are being restored.  The new stadium just may be built in time and there actually seems to be an attempt to try to clean up the streets.  At least from the outside.  Walk a few blocks from the financial and shopping districts however and you will see refugees from God knows where sleeping in camps with loads of laundry drying in the median between streets and garbage is strewn on the sidewalks.  But, where the wealthy tourists are at least, progress is being made.

scaffold and construction every where in delhi

Construction is Everywhere

We did all of our shopping for our entire time in India at Connaught Place’s state emporiums.  Their fixed prices were a dream.  we had been so tired of bargaining over the past few months that we were happy to just buy items with price tags on them.  We have discussed how the bartering system used to work great when people were trading goats for chickens or milk for eggs.  But why do we have to barter over an inflated price just to get it down to something reasonable.

We would rather pay a few rupees more for a fixed price item without the hassle. but that is just us.  Dave and I used to love bartering when we first traveled.  Maybe we are just weary now.

Our Rickshaw in Delhi

Our Rickshaw in Delhi

We loved taking a rickshaw through the city to see the sites and were shocked when we got one that actually used his meter.  The rickshaw drivers in Delhi have been some of the most honest in the country!

We stayed in the fleabag guest house of Pahar Ganj and then stopped into a high end hotel to enjoy some comforts for a few nights.  We enjoyed both for their own separate reasons.  One, we felt connected to the people and felt the cities energy pulsing through our bodies.  The other, we loved the solitude and sanitation.  We were in our bubble enjoying creature comforts from home.

We had cheap beer and curry at the main Bazaar and then had some fine coffee and salad in New Delhi.

We mastered the trains, Old Delhi, New Delhi and Nizzzamudden stations don’t make us cower in fear anymore.

Old Delhi Train Station

Old Delhi Train Station

And we are comfortable walking the streets and enjoying the vibe. But don’t walk and walk for too long, we walked enough to get a respiratory infection but at least were able to buy cheap antibiotics from the corner chemist.

While Delhi has the usual things that you have to watch out for, scams, touts and mischievous street kids, it is a pretty good city to spend a few days.  Maybe other people hate it so much because it is the first stop for most when traveling to India.  When it is one of the last stops on the list like it is for Dave and I, it can be fairly easy and not so overwhelming.

Good luck to you Delhi and all the best for the Commonwealth Games.  The World, (well at least the colonies) will be watching.

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19 Comments

  1. Marylouise

    I am SO sorry that you are leaving India!! I have enjoyed reading about your varied experiences and observations….and the photos are SUPERB!
    Delhi..it really is an O.K. Capital city that works quite well, despite incoming tourist from all points of the globe, including Indians migrating from other regions looking for work, education and religious experiences in the major Temples and Mosques. (Kinda like going to the Vatican, in Rome!) I have lived in Paris for 21 years and have visited 43 Capitals of the world. Delhi is my second most favorite capital world city, with Paris still #1. Jet Lag and the totally new culture of Delhi most often gives a disagreeable impression…it really can be overwhelming! My suggestions to friends is to book a 3 star hotel with airport transfers included to allow the initial shock to wear off! Change after 3 days to a low budget hotel to experience another Indian adventure.There are so many “must sees” in Delhi that 6 days will only allow for the major sites. In Delhi, do try to have a Sikh driver, they are very skilled on city streets. A majority of Indians drive WITHOUT a drivers liscense! I am returning to India next year for my 7th trip, looking forward to traveling to some areas where you two have recently been as your Blogs have tempted me. Its been a delight to read your Indian Blogs…I wish you were there another month! Namaste. Marylouise

    1. davendeb

      Thanks for your kind words Marylouise. I am happy to hear that you love Delhi. Our friends Julian and Becca really digged Delhi too. We actually did have a Sikh driver once, so we did well I guess. Hope you stick around for our Nepal Adventures, we will still be writing about them! Also, that is very good advice about the 3 star. We stayed our final 3 nights in Delhi at a 3 star and it changed the experience of completely for us. Much more comfortable than the dives in Paharganj.

  2. Earl

    It was so nice to read a positive review of this crazy city! And you’re probably right about the negative reactions coming from those whose first stop is Delhi. Obviously, it can be a bit overwhelming as an introduction to the subcontinent.

    I personally love this city myself and return every time I’m in India. It feels much more comfortable and easier to navigate than Mumbai or Calcutta.

    And I’m not sure if you’ve already left, but a good way to go out is with a meal at Nizam’s (ask anyone!) and an ice cream at Nirulas…both are in Connaught Place somewhere around H-block. Just an idea for a good last meal and dessert!
    .-= Earl´s last blog ..How I Learned Spanish By Doing Nothing =-.

  3. Trisha Miller

    I think you were wise to save Delhi for last – some of your earlier experiences prepared you for worse so comparatively it must not have seemed bad at all. And any city that is home to that many people has its share of scams, crime, filth, traffic jams, and general unpleasantness…I think it’s great that your report on Delhi is so fair and balanced.
    .-= Trisha Miller´s last blog ..2nd Annual WiFTy Scholarship Announced =-.

  4. Migration Mark

    Great write up on Delhi. I think that alot of the major cities that get a bad reputation by tourits is because they go in with a negative attitude. Or, something wrong does go wrong, but thats the only thing you hear about.
    If you go in with a good attitude (like you guys), there’s surely awesome things to do and see.

    I’m waiting to travel to Delhi and India in about 6 months when I finish teaching English in Bangkok!
    .-= Migration Mark´s last blog ..100 Food Dishes To Eat Like a King in Bangkok: The Ultimate Thai Eating Guide =-.

  5. Jennifer @ Approach Guides

    Excellent overview of Delhi. We really enjoy returning to Delhi when we visit India – it has a cosmopolitan vibe and great culture (the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb are two of my favorites); however, as you pointed out there are some negatives too (pollution being one of them).
    Feel better soon!

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  7. Marie

    We learned a lot from travelling culture, people, whether we experience good or bad the adventure we had will always remain in us forever. Thanks for posting, GBY all

  8. ankur

    hi folks,
    yeah delhi can be overwhelming to the outsider, but its great city.
    one tip i will like give is: travel by delhi metro wherever available–its clean, cheap, fast, airconditioned (delhi is very hot during summer), stops are announced in english (for non natives benefit). its good to take the metro if u want to travel to old delhi(red fort, chandni chowk etc), connaught place (now called rajeev chowk).

    Rickshaws: we call them autos in delhi. rickshaws is reserved for the cycle rickshaws.
    please always insist thet the driver charges only what comes on the electronic meter ( ask him to switch it on- its on the left side of the auto). if the guy is askin for 200 rs, cut it down to half, give him 100, because that is what the actual fare would come out to be. (these guys are crooks-beleive me)

    i dont know if u have visited the akshardham temple in noida or not, but it is good place to visit (hire a taxi).

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  10. Savaari

    We always got a new lesson from our experiences. These are either good or bad. I just hope you have taken some memorable moments with you from this experience.
    .-= Savaari´s last blog .. =-.

    1. davendeb

      Hi Savaari. Did you read our post or just the title? :-) If you read on, you will see that we liked Delhi. We wrote that it is emerging and coming along nicely. Read it again, and you will se that we did have a memorable moment. Cheers.

  11. AMIT

    DELHI is a great to see so many people criticize for its crowd an ugly condition.
    but i justify few things over here.
    Delhi like city adopted many culture and mass from different place easy observe in their.Its place where every day many have migrated from different state for their livehood. And they become a part of it.
    currently its converted in long way its NCR region provide an huge job opportunities and converted in IT and BPO hub.
    as a survey its documented populated 1.34 cr. but real world its double?
    so its creating unpleasant things like water, electricity, transport…..and other basic need.

    its not easy to full fill every thing because demand and supply law is working here.
    Govt. doing from their side but our political structure is depend on earn more idea.
    our thinking process is different from other countries like euro pen.
    they have less people …..more facility.
    but we survive with different way of life.
    when we get any oppourtunity like common wealth.
    we think how much we earn in their tender and other ……….earning sources
    we don’t represent our country, we don’t think for its proud
    we must need to rethink and check our mind set ….
    how we can change ourselves
    things will be change when we change ourselves
    that the only way change the things.its bad or good.
    we have many things to be proud.

    jai hind

  12. aditya jain

    Bad manners…
    Do not write about something you don’t know.
    A city with 1000BC old History you want to see in 3-4 days and that too after reading hints from some stupid Reference Guide and in limited budget…and over that comment on it…
    You westerner’s commoners now have gone below to that level that you can not understand India… But your Goverments and Top level people know what Delhi(India ) means to them and of course world.
    I have always heard/ Read these kind of comments from always Bag Packers but never from westerners staying in 75+ Five star Hotels of Delhi……

    1. debndave Post author

      Hi Amit, I have no idea what you are talking about and cannot figure out what you are upset about. If you read the post, we talk about how we like Delhi and how people say that it is overwhelming but we liked it. So, your comment doesn’t make a lot of sense. If you could explain what made you angry in the post, we would love to hear it because if you read it over, you will see that we liked Delhi and we were talking about how everyone thinks its big and bad, but it is really quite a comfortable place to visit.

  13. Pingback: Delhi, India: Sightseeing in India | Somewhere Round the Middle

  14. siddhu

    debndave ,
    I agree with what you have written about Delhi . I have stayed in delhi for last 10-12 years and have been coming to delhi before ( starting mid 70s i believe ) . The problems are there , yes many delhiwallas are crooks and Auto wallas are a big problem even for delhi wallas .
    But to get things in perspective , Delhi as a population of nearly 15 million people and if you throw in the satellite townships like gurgaon and noida and faridabad , this might be closer to 25 million . which is probably as much as some small european nation . Hence the pressure on basic amenities . Though Power situation has improved over last 5-7 years . The poverty is there , no denying that . But at the same time , this is one of the fastest developing cities .
    Yes , we Indians never learnt to stand in queues and hence the pushing and jostling . Yes , we indians are never very courteous hence you might get stared at or even shouted at . But , where else would someone just invite you to his house for dinner without knowing you or a smile and an offer of seat in crowded metro ? Like any other city it has the good , the bad .. and before i forget the Ugly ( the fixation we have with lighter European skin (particularly female ) is just unbelievable ).
    Overall I agree with your assessment that it is a city of many colours . You have to adapt to enjoy it . So next time any of you are in Delhi wish that you have a good time .

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