Up early we met at 7:30am in the common room for the Delhi Belly Walking Tour. There were 8 of us in total. There were three German girls, Marie and Anne who were sisters and were in Delhi for a wedding and Miriam who was travelling around India on her own. There was an English girl called Cat, from Bristol and a German guy called Florian, who were both solo travelling and two Indian guys called Amit and Parag who were in Delhi from their home town to 'party'. The tour was lead by Aru, who grew up in Delhi. Aru explained that he was taking us to the north part of Old Delhi where a lot of people wouldn't go as they feel outside of their comfort zone but Aru's tour was based around this area so we got to see this side to the city.
The group mingled straight away and after a few metro stops we arrived in Chawri Bazar. We walked out of the metro and it was like something from another world. It was around 8am so it was relatively quiet but it was like nothing I had seen before. I thought the hanging wires in Thailand were bad but this was on another level and the rubbish, it was everywhere.
As we walked to our first stop for breakfast we passed the locals setting up for the day, ready for the mad rush. Even though it was chaos, it was still quite peaceful and interesting to watch people getting on with their day to day lives.
Our first stop was a small street food stall, selling Chole Kulche which already had flocks of locals gathering around to get their first meal of the day. Chole Kulche is one of the main North Indian dishes that is served on the street. Chole is chickpeas and Kulcha is a type of leavened bread made with refined flour. Lotan Kulche Wala is a popular place to get this breakfast and the stall has been going for generations. At this stall the flavour of their Chole Kulche was a sour sauce and chillies for a unique taste. I asked for mine mild and it was really nice, even though it still had a bit of kick to it. The other members of the group who took it as it came, started to sweat quite quickly when the chillies kicked in!
After a short walk through the winding streets of Old Delhi we reached our next stop. This was famous for its Bedmi Puri, Lassi and Halwa. Bedmi Puri is a deep fried fluffy bread which is made of lentils and wheat flour and is served with a potato curry and pickled vegetables. The shop was also selling sweets which were delicately decorated.
After the Bedmi Puri we then tried our first Lassi which is a yoghurt type drink, which can be in lots of different flavours and is traditionally served in clay cups. The one we tried was flavoured with rose water. Rob loved it and couldn't stop drinking it from then on. Lassi is supposed to help aid digestion, so is probably a good idea if you have had a dodgy curry or street food. We then tried Halwa which is a Mughal era dessert made from semolina, saffron and sugar syrup. We had two different types, one was made from carrot and I have forgotten what was in the other one, but it was sweet!
We then jumped on a rickshaw to get to another part of the city... bloody hell was it busy. I had never seen traffic like it and we later found out that there was a relgious gathering going on which was causing the delays. After a few minutes I looked across to Rob to see him staring at the road, he looked at me and said "I'm just looking at all of the blood on the road". We were not surprised as they have no rules and just drive where they want and dogs, cows and children just run around the wheels of the taxis, buses, tuk tuks and rickshaws.
After sitting in traffic for around half an hour, Aru told us to get off and walk as it would be quicker. We had somehow lost Cat and Miriam in the traffic and after looking for them for another half an hour Aru told us that we would just continue. I think the rest of the group wanted to wait, as we all knew how uneasy we would feel being left in the middle of Old Delhi with no clue where to go. Just as we were walking off, we saw the girls waving to us from across the road, reunited, we continued the tour. We walked to the Town Hall which had a statute of Swami Shardhanand outside and was filled with pigeons. The locals come up to the gates and feed the pigeons as it brings good luck. Pigeons are a well loved animal in India, the complete opposite to home.
Next stop...the Kinari Bazar (the wedding market) where we saw all of the amazing wedding dresses, bracelets and jewellery. The narrow lane was incredibly busy but with the most vibrant and colourful market. Basically, anything you need for a wedding in India, Kinari Bazar will have it. The detail and colours of the Indian bridal dresses and saaries were out of this world. The dark, narrow, overcrowded lanes, with wires tangled above your head, are brought to life with the vibrancy from the little shops, the contrast is incredible.
Next stop, the spice market. WOW, we knew as soon as we were approaching it, as we could smell it before we saw it. It was lively, with bags of spice lined up anywhere they could possible fit. Aru lead us through a small part of the market and told us to follow him up some stairs. After 5 minutes most of the group were coughing and sneezing because the spices were so intense and strong. None of us could believe that the men and women could work in those conditions all day.
After 5 flights of stairs, we reached an amazing look out onto Old Delhi. The smog made the view a little hazy but to me it just added to it. We all stopped and took in the view appreciating the peace and quiet for a moment. A man met us at the top with hot Masala Chai, which is tea prepared Indian style with milk and is then infused with a mix of spices. It was delicious and was the perfect accompaniment to look down on the Main Street of the spice market where all of the trading in the city takes place and just to people watch.
After our cup of Chai, we explored the market and went into a spice shop where you could taste some of the spices. I was surprised how nice chewing on a bit of cinnamon was, even though it looked like bark from a tree. We continued to walk around the narrow lanes for a little while, watching all of the street food traders selling their snacks. As you can tell I struggled to put my camera down, as there was so much to look at.
We then had a pit stop for more food, a traditional samosa, but it was in a tray with spicy sauce. I managed a few bites but found this one too spicy but Rob and the rest of the group seemed to enjoy it. By this point, we were all feeling rather full, but Aru lead us to the final stop for the 'main meal'. This stop was in a sit down cafe type place, called Paranthe Wali Gali. Everyone was squished in tightly and the men at the front of the shop were making lots of different types of bread. Aru placed a tray in front of us with lots of different sauces and curries and some Parantha's which were stuffed, deep fried bread made from wheat flour. You can have the Paranthe filled with various different flavours, but cottage cheese and cauliflower are the most common. The tray had a potato curry, pumpkin curry, tamarind sauce and a coriander sauce to eat with the Paranthe. It was a great finish to the tour.
Aru was heading back to the hostel but Rob, Cat, Florian, Amit, Parag and I decided to go and see the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India. We paid to get in and put on our flattering robes and a few seconds after getting through the gates I was flocked by adults, children, teenagers, all asking to have a photo with me. It was hilarious and the more people I agreed to have a photo with, the more people were coming up to me asking for a "click photo". After my fans had left me alone, I then had other children coming up to me to ask me to take a photo of them. It was confusing because they wanted me to take the photo on my camera, so they would never see the picture again. The children were very cute and extremely polite.
We got to the Jama Masjid just after the praying had finished and the mats were half rolled up and the children were using them as a playground. It was a lovely atmosphere with everyone laughing and playing. After resting our feet and people watching we decided to head back to Hauz Kauz, where the hostel was based. While looking for the metro we walked into a muslim ceremony which we believe was a type of protest against terrorism. There was a lot of chanting and noise and men stood in the middle of the street were hitting their chests very hard, I tried to find out what exactly it was, but I couldn't.
The end of our day consisted of walking to find a dog cafe, which turned out to be a bit of a letdown but we saw pigs and stumbled across an Indian wedding on the way...there is always something to see in India.
Back at the hostel, we both agreed what a great day it was but we were absolutely shattered, not just from a lot of walking but the constant chaos and noise which really drains you. Our first proper day was amazing and we saw and experienced so much, I was excited to see what else Delhi had in store for us.