delhi, india’s capital, is a gigantic bustling city packed w/ all sorts of different historical sights. there’s so many of them that you could spend days on end there and still not see all that delhi has to offer. it was going to be tough deciding what to go see and what not to see. so, just to be fair, we ended up seeing none of them. heh, yup, this is our 3rd day in delhi and we have still not seen one single sight.
during our trip so far, timing has been a huge issue. our timing has been incredibly poor time and time again. it seems like countless numbers of times we’ve arrived in a place only to find out that a huge festival had taken place there just days before. we’ve hopscotched all over the place with an uncanny knack for missing every single interesting event, gathering, show, or holiday possible. well, finally our luck had changed. the stars aligned just right, and we happened to get to delhi, one of the most famous cities in the world, right when one of the most famous singers in the world was going to play a show there. yes, Sting was playing in delhi for the first time in 17 years.
i’m not the world’s hugest sting fan… in fact, i actually dont even know that many of his songs, but the stuff that i’ve heard i’ve liked, and well, a lot of his songs are practically classics. i was defintely excited to see this show ever since i first heard about it a couple weks ago, and we have been carefully timing our trip to hopefully get to delhi at the same time as the show. tickets were pretty pricey. you could get tickets for 25$, 35$, or 45$. it was a tough call but you only get a chance like this once in a lifetime, so we shelled out 90$ for two tickets. plus, this was a benefit for tsunami relief, so the money was going to a good cause.
90$ on one hand doesnt seem like that much money, and back home when i still had a job, i’d probably have no problem spending that on a concert, but here, where a meal is only 3$ and a hotel room is 8$, 90 bucks can go a long way. as we left the store, caryn and i worried a bit about spending so much money on a concert. so, to get our minds off of spending all that money, we went out to the most expensive restuarant in all of delhi and spent a crapload more money.
the restaurant is called bukhara and is located at the sheraton hotel. it’s clear across town and we had to take a rickshaw to get there. sheez, taking rickshaws here in delhi is practically impossible. we’ve been told that there’s no such thing as an honest rickshaw driver in delhi, and from what we’ve seen, it’s totally true. every single one of them tries to rip you off, and to rip you off big. the transaction usually goes something like this:
you ask the hotel how much a rickshaw should cost, let’s say they tell you 40 rupees. when you go outside, the rickshaw guys run up to you all smiles and “eager to please”. “you want rickshaw?! come, come!! no problem! good price!”. you tell them where you want to go, and they will invariably tell you that they will take you there for 80 rupees (double the price) although often they will even try to say 100, or 120 rupees! you look at them in shock, and make your most indignant face possible… “80 rupees!!! no way, it should cost 40!! the hotel said so!!!” at this point they will drop 4 or 5 lies on you saying that your hotel is wrong or that there is lots of traffic, or that the place you want to go is sooooo far. often they will say that your place is let’s say 25km away, when really it’s only 9km. you tell them that you refuse to pay 80 rupees, and they drop the price to 65. still too much. after going back and forth for a few minutes, either you storm off angrily, they tell you to get lost, or you finally agree on a price like 50 rupees, which is still higher than what you should be paying.
the whole thing is ridiculous, and it’s incredibly frustrating to deal w/ this time and time again all day long. it’s especially frustrating to know that every single one of these people is looking you straight in the face and lying. absolutely shameless. to combat this bullshit, rickshaws have meters. a built-in gadget that calculates how far they’ve gone and tells you the actual price of your journey. it’s great theoretically, but almost every single one of these guys will refuse to turn on th meter. no matter how much you plead w/ them, they just wont do it. you begin to wonder why these things even have a meter. well, once in a blue moon, someone gives in and actually uses the meter. this is such an incredible rarity, but dont get excited, because usually, they will still rip you off. they know the city and you dont. it’s *very* easy for them to just zig zag back and forth and take a route that’s twice as long as it should be. either way, you’re screwed. of course, we’re gtting used to it by now. we’ve dealt w/ unscrupulous taxi drivers in many countries now, but i think that delhi may be the worst. argh!
anyways, back to the story. bukhara is at the sheraton, and it honestly felt very weird being there. we’re used to hanging out in 8$ hotels, while the cheapest room at the sheraton goes for over $300. so this is how the other half lives, eh? we felt a bit out of place, but oh well. the food there was absolutely incredible. so freaking good. we got tandoori prawns that were *huge*, practically the size of lobsters and they tasted so good! everything else we had was delicious as well. it was the best meal we’ve had in a while… and yet we were still shocked when we got our bill. one hundred bucks. ouch!! so between the sting tickets and the dinner, we had really demolished our budget, but i guess you gotta splurge sometimes.
the following day, we set out for the concert. it had been raining all day, and now we were doomed to see the concert while soaking wet since it was outdoors. the concert was general admission, so we tried to get there somewhat early to get a good spot near the front. we waited in line till the doors opened and people slowly trickled in. we ended up getting the best spot ever… right dead center and about 7 people back from the stage. i couldnt believe how close we were! our luck was on the upswing, and at that point it stopped raining!
eventually, sting came on and the concert was brilliant. he played all his best songs, and a bunch of songs that i hadn’t heard that were really good as well. the sound at the concert was crystal clear, and being so close to the front we were able to see absolutely everything. this concert had been hyped on the news etc for a while now, and people in delhi were so amped for it. i dont thing huge name bands like this pass through india all that often. apparently there were 18,000 people there and from what i saw everyone was absolutely thrilled to see sting. when the show ended everyone around us was chattering about how good the show was. it had been quite epic! actually, one thing that i found interesting was that almost everyone around us was speaking english. hardly anyone was speaking hindi. it was so weird.. like we were all of a sudden in america again. why do so may people in delhi speak english to one another? is it cool? is it a remnant from the british days? we’ve also noticed that a lot of commercials have parts that they put in english too. odd.
well, after the show, we planned to stay in delhi for a few more days to finally do some sightseeing, but we had an abrupt change of plans, and are now heading up to the mountains tomorrow. more on that later…