Thursday, 26 April 2007

10 April - Arrival

Beginning our descent the landscape looked almost familiar - fields, towns, rivers and roads in miniature below me. Gradually things began to look less familiar, I could make out the flat-roofed, square buildings that were squeezed into every available space. Then, as the aircraft swept low over Delhi for our final approach, I could see the tiny breeze block huts and tarpaulin covered A-frame tents that are home for the residents of India's slums.

Our passage through arrivals at Indira Gandhi International Airport was straight forward and our local guild, holding aloft a card with our names, was there waiting for us - a great relief after all the tales we had been told of Indian inefficiency and bureaucratic red tape.

Outside the heat hits you like a wall - you can smell it - and your ears are assaulted by traffic noise, especially the ceaseless hooting of horns.

Our drive to the hotel is like a theme park ride, the driver darting in and out of other road users, hitting his horn for the vehicle in front to move aside when there is no way around. I am too busy watching the road ahead to take in much of my surroundings but already we are astonished by the variety of road users - every kind of motorised vehicle you can imagine, bikes, rickshaws and tuktuks, carts drawn by hand, horse, donkey or cattle and amid all this pedestrians and animals wandering freely.

The driver tells us that to drive safely in Delhi you need 3 things: a good horn, good breaks and good luck!

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