Saturday, March 17, 2007


"Hello, please sir, this way. Welcome to India, is this your first time to Delhi?"

"Er, yes. Yes it is."

The first person I met in Delhi was our taxi driver, who for 215 Rupees (about £2.50) would drive us the 10kms from Indira Gandhi International Airport to our hotel in Connaught Place in the centre of Delhi. Looking back on it now, it was probably a mistake to tell him that this was indeed our first time in Delhi, although at the time, his concern seemed altruistic enough.

"Where you stayin in Delhi?"

"The Intercontinental Hotel in Connaught Place. You know it?"

The driver looks perplexed, intakes a short breath and frowns.

"I'm not sure where that is. I have to ask a friend in Delhi."

Now luckily I had done some research on getting to and from the airport in Delhi before I left England, and found out that the taxi drivers at the airport quite often try and con you into staying at other hotels (usually one belonging to a relative, or one where they get commission for taking you to). These taxi drivers will tell you anything, to get you to stay at the hotel of their choice (anything from it being closed for refurbishment, to it having burnt down the previous night). In this case, the driver pretended to not know where the (tallest and largest) hotel in Delhi was, even with the address and map given to him. Anyway, arguments ensued, and he became a little hot headed, trying to snatch our hotel confirmation from us. Once he'd had his little tantrum, we finally managed to get him to drive us to our hotel. He drove straight there. Not a single wrong turning.

Delhi itself is completely nuts. One second you'll be walking alongside some businessmen, the next you'll be stood next to a leprous beggar, or surrounded by a group of starving homeless children, and all of this within spitting distance of a McDonalds. The contrasts between rich and poor are shocking and numerous. It also seems that there are no traffic rules whatsoever, and cars, buses and bikes weave in and out of lanes, and appear to be going in all directions at once. Crossing the road is something that should have its own clause in your travel insurance policy as you really are taking a chance each time you cross. No pelican crossings here, kids.

The main/cheapest form of Transport around Delhi is the Autorickshaw. They are nippy little machines, and a really cheap option to get you from place to place within cities. However, like the taxi drivers at the airport, the rickshaw drivers are constantly trying to get you to go to places you don't want to go to. Usually a 'shopping centre', which will actually belong to their brother/cousin/uncle etc., and where they receive commission from the store owner for each tourist they bring. The constant hassle from touts either in taxis, rickshaws or just men on the street is a real pain in the arse. It is something that you really have to learn to ignore, else you'd go nuts.

An Autorickshaw

One particular driver who camped himself outside our hotel seemed particularly feisty. This particular day (it was the Hindu festival of Holi), he approached us as we left the hotel. He was clearly pissed as he'd been celebrating all day and started to threaten us by suggesting that if we didn't get into the rickshaw with him that we'd fall into some sort of violent trouble further down the road. We ignored him. Nobody got hurt.

Connaught Place area

Connaught place is the main shopping area of Delhi, and is where you can find the likes of KFC, McDonalds, and all other manner of faceless global chains. Centred around a landscaped park (funnily enough called Central Park), it is where you'll find Delhi's middle-class out, spending their money, and also where you'll find the highest concentration of beggars and homeless people. In the evening, it seems that Central Park is where Delhi's families come and and sit and chat. You can really notice how Indian society is based around the family, and that they clearly enjoy spending time with each other. There doesn't seem to be a drinking culture comparable to the UK, there are no hordes of drunk hen/stag parties as in UK towns and cities and the drinking age is 25.

There is a darker side to Connaught Place however. The so called 'shit boys'...This is yet another scam that involves shoe shine boys (mostly men, actually) who, if ignored or if their services are turned down, will flick bits of dog shit at you, and then point out that you have shit on your shoe. Nice.

After spending a couple of days seeing some of the sights in Delhi (surviving the Chaos walking through Chadni Chowk to the Red Fort, Jami Mosque and then down to the governmental area of India Gate), it was time to leave Delhi and experience the joy that is the Indian rail network.

Red Fort, Delhi

(Coming Soon: India Rail, Jodhpur, too much curry and more bad tourist photo's)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

He drove the fastest milk-cart in the west...

The other night, I dreamt that I was playing the part of Benny Hill in a Benny Hill sketch.

Bikinis, sexy parties, innuendo and repressed sexual fantasies.

Sweet. RIP Ernie.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pant, rant...

I need some new underwear.

More particularly, I'm trying to find a pair of superhero pants for myself. (Spiderman, hulk, fantastic four, but definately NOT superman because he's a twat). Can I find them however...? Well, as you've probably guessed, no!

I've seen them in shops before, so I know they exist(ed), but I haven't seen them recently and can't find them anywhere on the internet. I mean COME ON, surely somebody somewhere in the world sells Marvel pants.

It would seem that if I were anywhere between the ages of 4 - 12, I would have no problem in finding this essential item of clothing but because I am 30, I guess my demographic is not worthy of superhero underwear.

My quest continues...

Anyone with superhero pants knowledge, please get in touch.

Friday, December 08, 2006

This is what you get, when you mess with us...

The other evening, I went to the Jamaican Eating House on Cowley Rd, to enjoy a few post-pub cans of Red Stripe lager with Seb, George and Sam...Every time I've been there, the landlord has decided to take exception to somebody (actually, that's always someone that's with me...), and this particular trip was no different to any other time. He decided he'd throw a strop because one of us was touching the fairy lights around the window. Hardly the antics you'd witness on 'Booze Britain', or 'Street Crime UK'...

Once I saw him go nuts because a guy removed a stinky ashtray away from his girlfriend and placed it on another table. Another time he flipped because someone held the door open for too long (in the summer!!), and yet another time he practically shit his pants because someone took a photo of their friends whilst birthday celebrations were being had. I mean, what is this dude's problem??? As if that's not anti-social enough, I have heard (through reliable sources), that he once almost puked from shouting at someone because they said 'thanks, dude', after they'd just bought a can from him...

Anyway, back to the original story.

After finishing my beer I decided to use the toilet before the walk home, and stumbled upon what can only be described as partially-digested, thrown-up chicken kebab, in the hand basin of the ladies toilet. Now I don't know who did it, or why they didn't use the toilet 1m to the right. I don't even know that it was a chicken kebab, I'd just like to think that some brave post-pub boozer had been pushed too far...

You know, over the edge...

I'd like to think they were pushed so far, that all they could do was puke in his sink...

Having said all that, it is the only place on the Cowley Rd open late that you probably wont ever see any stray townie scum in...and for that, we should all be grateful.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I think I'm Starting to Peak Now, Al...

Just have to say many thanks to the lovely people who run the 12 Cowley Road Inn, for their warming hospitality and their intoxicative zest for the booze. Although I couldn't afford the Erol Alkan show at the Bully, I did afterwards indulge in the company of those that had been. I was literally swept off of my feet by Seb and Michael...and another night was spent on someone else's floor/bed/sofa...

Anybody that may have seen me in the Star during the week could be forgiven for thinking that I was in a state of zombification. I wasn't. I just smelt like a zombie. Rather than do something as hygenic as 'brushing my teeth', I opted (for 2 days) to instead test the human boundaries of Weston's Organic Cider consumption, (it's approximately 6 bottles). I also discovered (via Tim), the delights of strawberry beer. (Not a bad drink, just not as good as Cherry beer, and a damned sight more expensive).

After spending the best part of last week camped out on a bar stool at the pub, I finally reached my boozy-peak by making a scene on Friday if anyone saw a water-based substance leaking from my eyes when I threw a massive whitey that night, they definitely weren't tears...I just got a bit of smoke in my eyes...No word of a lie.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The final countdown...

Not really much to discuss, but I just had to share my excitement at being in the final 4 weeks of my undergraduate degree...After 3 whole years of deadlines, exams, and missing lectures, I'll soon be able to sit back, relax, and CHILL THE FUCK OUT.

Despite calls from close relatives to have 'some sort of plan' for the next few years (by that they clearly mean 'get a job'), I think that I've deserved to work as little as possible throughout 2007. Aside from the part-time work I currently do, I'm going to concentrate much more time to my arabic lessons, and also more time to the Star Royale...(If that's possible).

Also, for those of you that live in the distant corners of the land, I'll have plenty of time on my hands to come visit and play...

24 days and counting...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Haway the lads...(Can't do the accent)

For those of you that don't already know, Lex and I travelled up to Newcastle last Thursday to visit Emma (before she forgets who we all are, and the broad Geordie accent kicks in). Although our visit was brief, we both had a totally assome time...

We went out boozing (and introduced to Cherry beer by Ian), met her new housemates (Woke them up when we got back to Emma's house drunk), walked around Newcastle town centre, (nice) and discovered the most decadent Weatherspoons pub ever, full stop.

Places I recommend...

The following places seemed pretty good for boozing in:

The Head of Steam was literally the first point of call as soon as we got off the bus. It served booze 'til1am, and there was a particularly hot girl behind the bar...Music was good, and I couldn't help but feel that this was a home away from home (the Star).

The Tyne was where we all went on the second night (and where I got hooked on Cherry beer), it's a bit out of the way (from what I remember it was in the middle of an industrial estate), but the jukebox was free (Emma put on the Futureheads). Oh, and the hand dryer in the gents toilet emits sparks when you dry your hands...

The Cluny (owned, I think by the Head of Steam people...) A live music venue, a bar, and that awesome Cherry beer again (in halfs, or in bottles)...Need I say more?

This is the age of the train...(or the megabus)

One word of warning though. If you plan on visiting Emma (or anyone else for that matter) on the train and you book your tickets online, make sure that you turn up at the station in time to catch the train you booked yourself on. (Just like we didn't)

If you miss it...They wont let you on another, unless you buy a new ticket. (If you're interested, our original ticket to Newcastle was £15, the ticket that the morons at Oxford station wanted us to buy was £78!) Instead, we had to catch a coach to London, and then go to Newcastle on the lifesaving but arsenumbingly long megabus journey. In the end, our journey from Oxford to Newcastle took 9 1/2 hours, rather than the 5 hours, if we'd not missed the train.

Anyway, go visit Emma, meet her friends, and drink all the damned Cherry beer you can get your hands on. Whatever you do, don't try to mimic the accent.