We had a very long drive back to Delhi and spent much of the journey in silence as my emotions and thoughts took over. We stopped at a roadside “shopping mall” where we sat in the sunshine and, much to Hannah’s delight, had small tubs of Baskin Robbins ice cream. Not quite the same as the U.K. but, boy it tasted good and, for once, my mouth was not on fire!
Approaching Delhi from another side was very interesting. Huge skyscrapers everywhere. Sukhvinder explained that this was the call centre area of Delhi and I didn’t like to tell him of my frustration and, on occasion, anger at all the pestering calls I get at the most inconvenient times from these buildings!
Sadly on arrival at our hotel in Delhi we had to say goodbye to Sukhvinder as he was collecting a couple of business people from the airport the following morning for a day trip to Agra. So strange to part with who we now fondly regard as our Bodyguard and Mr Wonderful. He has made this adventure so much more enjoyable and safer by being with us. The three of us have shared stories of our families and cultures and laughed until tears have rolled down our faces at moments we shall always cherish. He starts to laugh and looks in his mirror when he spots monkeys at the side of the road, waiting for my reaction (blasted things!) and at the childlike look of joy and excitement when we come across the camels and elephants. He has taught me to calm down my road rage and I will never be more pleased to see the M25 and M3! The Indians don’t regard road markings and I don’t even know why they bother with traffic lights and think they regard them in reverse; red is obviously the warning to put your foot down and keep going at high speed! He has laughed as I sit, rather regally, in the back shaking my head and tutting at everyone who has cut us up! I have even been known to shout at the cows as they stand arrogantly in the middle of road waiting for us to swerve (on two wheels on some occasions!) around them. We have survived without a bump or graze to the paintwork and how this has happened is only down to Sukhvinder’s expert driving. We gave him gifts we had brought from home and, rather unashamedly, we gave him a hug and watched him drive off home to his family. He later sent us a WhatsApp message checking we were both ok and sharing a photo of him and his children enjoying the sweets we had given.
Having checked into the hotel we were starving so left in search of a restaurant. The traffic in Delhi was obviously rush hour and everything was coming at us; cars, lorries, tuk tuks, bicycles, cows and dogs!! We needed to get across the road and I truly wish I had a video to share with you to explain what happened next (I silently pray this is the one blog post my darling Dad is not reading!). We stood for ages waiting for a quiet moment in the traffic and it just wasn’t happening. I don’t know whether it was the hunger in my tummy or the sheer “to hell with it” attitude I have adopted but I made my way into the road with my arms up screaming at the traffic to please (always remember your manners and use please!!) slow down and just let us cross!! And we did it – we crossed the road – AND WE SURVIVED!!! And the herd of people waiting to cross also crossed with us; some laughing and some obviously looking incredulously at the mad 52 and 10 months old woman (oh yes it is now creeping up on me) with unwashed hair (but clean underwear always clean underwear!). Hannah was laughing “Mum, I can’t believe you just did that; I am so proud of you”. At that moment I did, however, wonder whether I was quite the role mother I aspired to be? Years ago whilst on holiday in Cyprus with my girls I longed to learn to water ski. I put life jackets on the girls (aged 4 and 6 at the time) and George the waterski instructor took us out on his boat. As I entered the water I told him I was nervous and he turned to me and said “Sally; there are two people who can walk on water – Jesus and today you too will walk on the water”!! We have always laughed at this. Well today, not only can I walk on water I can also stop traffic in a Delhi street at the height of rush hour!!
Hannah excelled herself by reading about and taking us to a restaurant called “The Kitchen with a Cause”. It is an organisation which offers internships to young Indians rescued from circumstances in the villages and giving them hope and the ability and skills to achieve their dreams in the world. How fitting to spend our final night in such a place having witnessed the situation in the villages. The food was fabulous as was the atmosphere and we could have stayed longer with these lovely and kind people had we not needed to return to our hotel to catch some sleep before an early departure to the hotel.
It is now 6.30 am on the 8th December and I sit here in the departure lounge of Delhi airport sipping an earl grey tea and ending our adventure in this fabulously wonderful country. I didn’t know what to expect but India has given us an adventure far beyond any expectations we may have had. Tears slowly and privately flow (don’t want to embarrass Hannah after I have done so well so far!!) as I await the call to embark the flight to Abu Dhabi. I shall sit on the flight and wave goodbye like mad to India!! I can’t wait to see John, Francesca and Archie and can’t wait to hold my Mum and especially my Dad tightly. I also can’t wait to see you all and forgive me if I give you a huge hug when I see you!! This adventure has been FANBLOODYTASTIC.
One more blog post remains tomorrow night when I am safely home (do I hear groans ?!?) but until then ……
Today’s worry? We will be served Indian food for breakfast on the flight!
Love and anticipation