Monday, November 14, 2011

Incredible Kuch Kuch Land

When I stepped out of the Indra Gandhi International Airport, there was a gushing pungent scent floating in the air. This smell was existent throughout our 4 day stay in Delhi. However on the last day I noticed that either the smell was gone or was it that our nostrils have become accustomed to it?

It was my first visit to India, the second most populated country in the world, and if it is not because I have not reached Agra to visit Taj Mahal this time, I don’t dream of stepping on the Kuch Kuch Hotai Hai land again. Not that I have anything against the country, but there was a lot of drama.

For a start despite paying a 1000 rupees for the taxi from the airport to the hotel we stayed, Crowne Plaza Today at Okhla, about 2 km upon reaching the destination, the taxi driver asked us how much tip that we want to give him. To our astonishment, he was uttering some Urdu words that for a second we thought that we would not arrive at the hotel safely. Once we reached the hotel, we quickly took out our luggages and ran helter skelter through the hotel scanner and took protection under the hotel roof, phewwww… Selamat!!

We were in Delhi for a regas and pipeline training. The UK based trainer’s CV was simply excellent and if it was not for the trainer’s resume, we would not have travelled to Delhi. I did enquire the organizer whether they had a similar training held in Singapore, Hong Kong, or even the UK, the response that I got was negative. Since I have never been to India, perhaps, it may be worth a trip to venture. However it was quite a disappointment to know later that the original trainer could not make it, leaving us the next best trainer, sigh!

The training was from Tuesday to Friday and there was intention to extend to either Saturday or Sunday. However, my other two colleagues had family commitment on the coming Saturday resulting in us having to return on the last day of training, which was Friday. There was also intention that I alone extended the stay. But after our incredible experience, it was the correct decision to return with my other friends.

The training agenda was packed. There was a lot to cover during the 4 days. The programme was scheduled to commence at 9 am and finish at 5 pm. On the first day we started an hour late because the local participants arrived late and the programme had to drag. Actually the highlight of the day was the end of the training which was shopping and bersiar-siar time despite it was almost sunset and the horrendous jam.

There are so many many people in Delhi. This is what my uwan desribes as "berembik". People under the bridge, in the back lane and alleys, in the park, and the most incredible thing is they also sleep and cook there. As midnite approaches, one will see them taking out the steel old bed for a place to sleep, or if they do not have one, they just sleep on the ground bermandikan cahaya bintang dan bulan! Although there were many cars on the road and people blowing their horn for no particular reason, it was not like the KL jam which can be a bumper to bumper and at times stagnant. In Delhi, the cars are still moving albeit slowly. We once witnessed an accident and for a minute, the driver stepped out to check his car, and that’s it. The traffic returned to normal. The road users are more patient there.

We took the auto or tuk tuk from Janpath market to Le Meridien and it was again an incredible experience. I guess the tuk tuk driver knew that it was our first time and he drove us in a gentle and friendly manner. The last time I enjoyed a similar excitement of an open air drive was with my aruah Abah in his red MG. The tuk tuk is a very famous mode of transportation in this 19 million population city.

The food too was superbly incredible. I just love the pratha, the butter naan and the dosai. The chicken biryani too was marvelous as long as it is not too spicy. There were other food like the sambhar, chicken tikka, palak paneer and idli which are also to my liking. It was quite difficult to find Moslem food within Okhla area except for the hotel or some places like Kasbaa at Greater Kallash. We even ventured to Connaught place which is about 45 mins drive from Okhla just for good Moslem food. On the last night, the driver introduced us to Lazeez Affaire which was the best taste of Indian cuisine I have ever endured. It was a porschy restaurant but not that pricey. Chicken biryani, mutton curry, butter naan and vegetables curry costed 4of us only Rupees 2000 which is about RM140.

Garam Masala, another famous restaurant. I love the butter naan served here, simply crispy like the roti canai.

This one we ate at Saravana, the vegetarian restaurant which has its franchise in Malaysia. Yummy !

Although we only had the nights to shop, we had explored some nice ethnic shops; to name a few, Fabindia, Delhi Haat, West Side and some cotton shops at Nehru Place. However we have to brace ourselves to reach the destination late because the driver would insist that we stop by at "this shop" first which he suggested and if we don't like it there, never mind, we can go to our choice of shop/mall after that.

I particularly like Janpath market where you could bargain the kurtis for as much as 50% off. N, my Srikandi batch had spared her busy time in accompanying us to shop and bargain at Janpath. Got a few kurtis here as low as 100 rupees. After N left us on our own, one of my friends insisted that we visit her friend’s jewellery shop at Le Meridien and jeng jeng jeng… I am in possession of a beautiful big amethyst brooch for as low as about RM250!!! Aiyo yo!

On the last day of the programme, we managed to persuade the trainer to end it about an hour and a half early so that we could see Delhi during daylight before we return home on the same night.

These are some of the interesting sights. What a pity we could not enter the places as there was so little time.

Humayun Tomb

The Putrajaya of India

Red Fort and India Gate

Venue from my hotel room

People queuing for discounted fresh milk

At the airport was another drama. It is a long story. Make sure if you are there boarding a flight, you have your electronic ticket to enter the check in area, your hand luggage tag is always intact and there is the security stamp on it otherwise, there will just be unnecessary and bizarre stress.