Shopping in Delhi

The next leg of our trip round India was part of a custom tour we’d organised on recommendation of a friend of ours, we booked with Smyle Inn ‘your friends in Delhi’. As two young females travelling around India, this seemed like a sensible option and a lot easier. A few months before leaving I emailed them to say where we wanted to go and they booked it all for us, the car to take us around plus our accommodation at each place too – simples! It did feel strange putting all our trust into these people via email to get us from city to city safely, but it worked.

We didn’t spend anywhere near enough time in Delhi – I could have easily spent another day or two there.

After being picked up by our driver for the trip – ‘Ashuk’ a small, friendly but quiet man – who it turns out is THE slowest driver in India. A complete contrast to every other vehicle on the road, I’m sure bicycles over took us! Driven at a somewhat glacial pace through the bustling street of Delhi, alive with locals trading, walking, strays, rickshaws and taxis. I’d imagined the city to be more like Mumbai, but it seemed slightly less deprived and little more looked after.

The Main Bazaar in Delhi was the focus of my interest for the evening – a long stretch of road filled with stalls, street food, cows and vehicles all bustling against one another. It was time to shop, despite being late at night we jumped straight into the bustle and took in all the treats for sale.

It’s hard to look at the stalls though without being hounded, show any eye contact or mild interest (if any at all) and the sellers are onto you, ‘you like?’ ‘you buy?’ I’m not going to lie, its hard and it’s really difficult to not get annoyed, but you get used to it and soon you’re able to just smile politely and keep walking. I found holding my hand up and saying ‘no thank you’ reasonably sternly they tended to back off a little.

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I bought a gorgeous pashmina from an Indian man who thought it was fascinating I was so tall, asking if I played basketball. Errrr no I don’t. I also bought some intricate wooden stamps used for printing saris, haggling over each item is part of the fun and you get a real sense of success when you win – then you walk away and realise you’ve just haggled over the equivalent of 10p…

Hungry after our Bazaar experience we head up to a rooftop restaurant overlooking the main Bazaar strip, the temperature drops in India at night, especially here in the North – so don’t forget to bring something to keep warm. Sitting over Delhi was blissful watching the stalls pack away and the cows graze on the remains, it might not sound much but it was strangely satisfying for us.

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Round Up:
- Breakfast is rarely what you’ll think it will be – omelette and toast often turns into fried egg between bread or… curry.
- Garlic Naans will ensure you taste, smell and feel like a garlic clove for the next two days
- Haggle, but keep some perspective – these are locals trying to make a living, is 10p really worth the trouble?

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