“We’d like to go to India.”
“We’d like you to take us.”
“Let me think about it. [Half a heartbeat later.] Cool, when are we going?”
In a week or so as it turns out. Flights, trains, hotels, visas* all booked. 1994, 2012, 2015 have seen trips to New Delhi. The latter and former saw Jaipur & Agra too. This time a northerly turn is included in the plan: Simla. Different this time also is the smaller Beers are staying in Blighty whilst India newbies and longtime friends the Taylors are onboard. Well, they’re the driving force.
Rucksack unearthed and then a pause to ponder: how will it have changed?
In 2015 my brain had a memory that did not account for the actual passage of time in the intervening years. Of course every man and their yak has a mobile phone. Of course. But my narrative didn’t have that factored in so I was blown away by the proliferation of web connected devices. Daft really. Embarrassing even. And look at all these cars! Oh wait, there we go again…
This time then, I wonder, what will be different?
I’ve seen it described that Old Delhi is a time travel town where you can zip between the centuries by turning your head. On one side of the alleyway, ancient tradition, the other cutting edge 21st century. That’s been my experience. Child free in 2018, I fancy a visit to some bars/cafes where the locals hang out to catch a whiff of modern India in conversation. But equally am determined to avoid Guccified malls. I want to show our friends India as it’s been for generations juxtaposed with tomorrow.
Frankly, I’m also anxious as tour guide. Let’s see what transpires shall we?
*Visas are $100 per pers’. A ker-ching for the Indian government in granting us entry using their new “streamlined” process (which was anything but). And then you end up paying X times the local ticket fee to enter attractions.
EG: “The entry fees of fatehpur sikri is Rs. 40.0 per person Indian Visitor and citizen of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries, 550.0 per person Other Foreign Visitor.”
So that’s a mere X 13 premium simply for being foreign. Yes, we can afford it, but $100 and then being clearly fleeced smarts a little.
Does that happen in Europe? (At least officially.)