Delhi in a day – and my 15 surreal seconds of fame!

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Delhi, in a day, it can’t be done – this, I have been told many times but today, I am on a mission. The hotel suggests they assign me a driver who would stick by me for the day. The plan, to take me to the important sites, wait for me, and deliver me back in one piece to the hotel. But once again, I inform them that kind as the offer is, (15,000 Rupees of kindness), it is not the way I like to travel. I would prefer to be lost on the back of an open rickshaw in the sweltering humid heat any day! I hope I don’t live to regret this sentence!
So here I go: a ride to Jama Masjid, a rickshaw to India Gate from where I am able to negotiate my way to Rashtrapati Bhavan and Parliament House. I then enjoy a very long ride to the other side of town Qutb Minar and the Lotus Temple. Total cost of transport 700 Rupees, around £8! If there was an Olympic award for seeing Delhi in a day, I am pretty sure I would be in the running to receive it!

I have decided I love getting rickshaws, sure they may have disadvantages, comfort being one of them, but one of the great advantages is the fact its wide open. I can grab fantastic photo opportunities en route. It is hilarious to pull up next to others at the lights, neck and neck, it’s almost as though you are sitting on each other’s laps, you are so close. One character actually offers me a bite of his ham sandwich. I tell him I can’t eat ham and explain its for religious reasons so he offers me a sweet, shows me a picture of his three children on his phone, and is off, lost to the Delhi streets, disappearing as fast as he had arrived.

I jump out to take a photo to send to my parents. I rarely see the point of myself being in photos but on the odd occasion, it’s nice to take one for posterity. I spot a couple of guys in their twenties standing nearby and amble over to ask if they will take the picture. They looked delighted. The taller of the two takes my iPhone and clearly knows how to operate the thing as most young people do. He takes a picture or two when suddenly, his mate saunters over and stands beside me with a smile.

“What are you doing?” I ask, wondering why on earth a total stranger would want to stand next to me for a photo. He grins at the camera and then he and his friend swap places. I am totally perplexed. Both men shake my hand and nod their heads in thanks, happy as pie, I walk away completely bemused.

Some twenty minutes later I find myself at Parliament building. I am strolling slowly down a long avenue admiring the greenery when three men appear with broad smiles on their faces, and to my total shock inquire if they could have their pictures taken with me.

“Why on earth do you want to?” I ask wondering if it is some sort of joke. Each one takes it in turns to stand next me, beaming proudly at the camera, I find strangers arms wrapped around my shoulders and my waist. Again, they all nod at me thanking me profusely and compare one another’s photos. No one has asked, who I am, or my name or anything, they just wanted a photo, but why? In the age of social media, it’s very disconcerting to have your photo taken without knowing why or where it’s going to end up.

“Do you think I am someone famous?” I question one of them.

“No, no idea who you are,” comes the even stranger reply.

“So, you just wanted your picture taken with me?” Again he nods, yes. “Oh, I see. Well, that makes perfect sense!” I joke with typical British sarcasm. It looks as though my five minutes of fame are over, it is all very surreal and I am left wondering what just happened. Perhaps this is how celebrities feel when their glory comes to an end.

On my way back at Qutb Minar, I am approached by a very smart man who is the spitting image of Elvis. He has the sideburns and everything! He is from the tourism police department and asks me if I need a guide, I politely decline. He then follows that up with a request for a photo, without even questioning it I tell him it would be my pleasure. His colleague is rather badly cross-eyed and I find it hard to know whether he is looking at us to take the picture or eyeing up a criminal on the other side of the street.

‘Elvis’ thanks me and begins to launch into conversation about his family, his football team, and all other aspects of his life. I politely listen and then stand to the side as his radio buzzes and suddenly his expression hardens. He yells something about an accident and the two of them jump into their car. The cross-eyed officer begins driving in circles lost in an impatient rush to go then they both jump out, swap seats, and ‘Elvis’ takes off, screaming the car out of the square! This place really is unusual!