This morning after breakfast our new driver Sanjay took us shopping for soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs & oranges to give out in exchange for today's photos. We also had a few items from our own personal things including 6 aeroplane travel bags, 2 pairs of my shoes, Lees flip flops, a hat & a bikini top, plus a few pads & pens left over from yesterday.
The traffic was even worse than usual today; gridlocked at every junction! It turns out that this was due to a dignitary visit so a couple of roads were shut but we got moving in the end.
We were intending on visiting one of the larger Delhi slums today but when we arrived, on the edge of a big suburb, the army who were on on watch outside the camp told our driver that the slum residents were soon to be moved on so would probably be quite aggressive to outsiders, (which is understandable) so we were 'advised' not to go through the gate. To be honest, seeing the amount of people inside and our meagre amount of gifts, it's probably a good thing that we couldn't go in.
The second slum we stopped at was set back from a main road and involved a walk through some paths making it cut off from the outside. We were about to go in but someone passing by spoke to Sanjay & warned him that this one was also not safe so we carried on.
In Delhi (& other main cities in India) aside from the huge sprawling slums that are hidden away from tourists (even though it's obvious from the holes in the fences & walls that they are there), there are hundreds of small ones along many of the roads outside of the 'better areas' so we stopped at a couple of these. The people here also have nothing and were obviously desperate for the things we were giving away but we had to move on quickly from each one as within minutes, the group would quadruple & they would start getting a bit grabby & shouty so we got back in the car, mainly to appease Sanjay who was starting to look a little uncomfortable (whether this was for our safely or due to the crowds getting too close to his Hyundai, we're not sure)
The sad thing about these bright people living in some of the worst poverty on this planet is that given the chance they could achieve anything they wanted to do & become some of the greatest minds in the world but the probable fact is that none of them will ever get that chance.
At 2pm we stopped off for lunch in the centre of Delhi which is decidedly posher than anywhere else we'd been and the restaurant contained the first western faces we've seen in this city since we've been here & the prices reflected this too (£50 for 3 curries & 3 coffees) Personally we'd've been happier with somewhere more 'real' but our driver thought we would like it and he meant well. After the meal we stopped by at a gift shop as we'd not been to any at this point & thought we better had. In one of the rooms there was an artist selling originals of his work painted in colour with a really fine brush. They were lovely so I bought one from him & just as a gesture gave him a print of my black and whites to which he said, 'Ah, very good, I will copy this one' to which I replied, 'No you won't' & snatched it back off the counter! Whether this is a compliment or not in his culture, in my culture it's plagiarism & it wasn't happening! He then said 'ok, I won't copy it' but this fell on my deaf ears & we left.
By the time we'd crawled through the traffic in Delhi, had some lunch & crawled back to our hotel it was only ten minutes until the sun went down (5.30 in winter) We still had quite a few things left to give out so we dumped everything we didn't need in our hotel room and walked down to the street over the road from our hotel where there were two main street slums.
To start with, the first group of ladies were respectful and didn't snatch but again after 10 mins or so more people had arrived & started to get a bit grabby so we made exaggerating goodbye gestures & moved down the street (surprisingly unpursued!)
By now the light had gone and I could only take abcouole more photos of the next group of people so we just gave the rest of the things away as fairly as we could (which is hard In the dark as they would hide what they'd had and ask for more!) but there were some funny moments which stand out. On offering an unworn bikini top I gave the hand signal of big boobs to which they all said yes, when they all had tiny boobs! In the end I gave it to the old lady who I figured probably needed an uplift more than the others!
We also had a few packs of tissues & my sign language for this included mock blowing of nose & wiping of bum which they found funny and laughed - this was a rare moment of connection between people an ocean apart in cultures & it felt good :) Seeing one of the men wearing Lees summer hat which he'd donated was also an amusing moment to remember, although 15 minutes the same man came up to us complaining that he hadn't had a toothbrush (via brushing hand movements) but in the words of John Lydgate, you can't please all of the people all of the time :)
We got back to our room around 6.30 pm & put the main bits of our packing together. Unfortunately for obvious reasons we couldn't put the mini printer to use today. Had we made it back to the last stop by our hotel an hour or so earlier, we could've taken the photos, got them printed in our room & taken them back to them tomorrow but apart from the dark coming so quickly, we've had issues with the hotel wifi today so, next time...
We are being picked up and taken to the airport at 7.05am tomorrow & as we've had S big curry for lunch won't be needing any dinner tonight, just an early (ish!) night! I just hope I can sleep from the constant itching (due to sunburn peeling) I'm suffering at the moment!
Thank you all for following my blogs, I really appreciate it & hope you've enjoyed them. I will be posting a contemplative one on the plane tomorrow seeing as we have wifi with Emirates and lots of time to spare & then I sign off until the next trip. It's been hard work sometimes with many frustrating internet issues & late nights but it's been worth it :)