Today was officially the first day of our GAdventures tour but the first scheduled activity was an evening orientation meeting. That left us with a day to fill in any way we wanted. We could take another taxi tour, relax in our room, or do something else.
I woke with a headache, probably caffeine deprivation, and some dry soreness in my throat, possibly just the dust and smoke or maybe a bug. Majella was awake and checking her phone but we both took our time before going down to find breakfast on the second level. It was simple but enough with banana for me (Majella will not eat them), cornflakes with milk, fruit juice, and Indian bread. There was tea available but we asked for coffee and they were able to provide black instant coffees.
Majella was set on reducing the contents of her backpack both to reduce the weight she is carrying and to make room for purchases along the way. Our plan was to post our wedding gear home since we will not be using it again on this trip. A search online for post offices found a few within a couple of kilometres so sometime before 9:30 am we set out to walk to the nearest, at Nagar, about 800 m straight along the street the hotel street runs into. Our first visit was for reconnaissance and to buy a packing box so we could return, pack, and then go back to post it.
Traffic was already busy in the street and we were offered several opportunities to ride in a tuk tuk (motor rickshaw). We declined but one taxi driver was persistent and followed us insisting there was no post office where we were going. We were also approached by a small child begging. Majella is softer than I am and found 10 rupees to give her but the natural result of that was another child asking.
We pressed on but almost missed the post office because it was not on the street front but set back down a lane. Majella spoke to a woman there who explained they had no boxes but the post office at Karol Bagh, next nearest but in the opposite direction should be able to assist. She suggested taking the Metro to Karol Bagh station, the next along from one up the road at Rajendra Place.
At the station I checked the map and was not persuaded that the Karol Bagh station would help us. It is actually quite close to our hotel and not very close to the post office. We walked back up the street a little way and hailed an Uber to take us direct to the post office. For some reason he was not able to turn into the street where the post office was but dropped us at the corner where we had a short walk to the post office.
That post office did not sell boxes either. As we exited we spotted an ATM across the street and seized the opportunity to replenish our cash supply. That ATM was out of action but there was another just down the street. It was upstairs in a bank but had no cash either. Evidently there had been a run on ATMs over the weekend.
The map showed another post office not far away so we decided to walk there and try one more time. Not far along we found an ATM that was working and managed to extract some cash, so we were relieved to have achieved at least one of our morning goals. When we reached the post office it had no boxes either.
We had passed a stationery store on our way so headed back there, stopping at a sweet shop along the way for coffee and sweets. Refreshed we found the stationery store. It had no boxes for sale but Majella spotted one of an appropriate size which they obligingly unpacked of its goods and gave it to her. She bought some tape to seal it up. Another minor victory.
I hailed an Uber to take us back to our hotel where packed and taped the box. Then it was back downstairs where the hotel staff hailed a trishaw to take us to the post office for 50 rupees (about $1). Majella felt bad sitting there with the poor man struggling to pedal, especially when there was a slight rise in the ground. He took us to the Karol Bagh PO where I gave him 100 rupees and he offered to wait for us. The PO was usually able to post parcels , but unfortunately not today as the server was down. Back we went to the hotel for another 100 rupees.
By then it was time for lunch so we set out again up the street and found ourselves in the Karol Bagh markets. Majella bought some mandarins from a street stall and we ate those before wandering in the markets.
There is clearly some flexibility with prices or some people are obtaining goods to sell at very low prices, perhaps illicitly. I was offered a vibrating hairbrush/massager for 1500 rupees but continued refusals had the price reduced to 250 rupees. Later in the day I had a similar drop on a power bank from 700 to 200 rupees. Given we had spent the morning trying to reduce our stuff we were not in a hurry to buy more so declined all offers.
We were also pestered by people asking to clean/polish our shoes, a service we thought not very useful given our travel plans. Nevertheless on a quieter section of street Majella gave in to a young boy who took 15 minutes or so to do an excellent job of cleaning her shoes, including a minor repair with glue and deft stitching across the toe.
In my searching for a route back to the hotel I had located the Kitchen with a Cause restaurant with a review suggesting a GAdventures connection. We found our way there and ate lunch, chicken korma with rice and roti washed down with Coke and beer. They included some spring onions with a mint sauce that was refreshing with a hint of burn in the tail. The restaurant was started by two former GAdventures local guides and provides training for young adults off the streets.
We have been in India almost a week and are still struggling with the huge contrasts between the decaying infrastructure and evident poverty of many and the glitz and glamour alongside. Upmarket stores selling electronics, fashion items, and spectacular wedding suits appear on streets alongside decaying shopfronts.
On the way back to the hotel to try yet again at a PO, Majella was distracted by trying to buy a pair of light trousers or a Kurtz. She found a Kurtz she liked but when she pulled it on it was too small. Finding an XXL too small may have been a first for her and nothing in a larger size took her eye.
On our next try to post our parcel, hoping the server might have been resuscitated, we had the hotel staff arrange a tuk tuk. Majella did not feel so bad being conveyed by a man in a machine with a motor. We tried the original post office but they were unable to post a parcel at any time. The woman there suggested Connaught Place in the city and we did think of Ubering there but based on our earlier fruitless expeditions, decided to wait until tomorrow morning when our tour is to go there.
As we approached our hotel on the way back I spotted a young woman performing on a tight rope along the street. We dropped our stuff at the hotel and went back to look. As we got back she was moving along the rope with a bicycle wheel, less tire and tube, between her legs and some brass bowls balanced on her head. She actually made the rope sway from side to side and maintained her poise. She made her way back along the rope kneeling in a metal bowl and pushing herself with her bare toes on the rope. She was showing real talent and the contributions of cash from crowd around indicated appreciation.
We found a general store where we bought a small jar of instant coffee to take on our travels. We can hope to find some way to boil water to make a cup when we need one.
At 6:00 pm we went downstairs for the tour group meeting with our CEO (Chief Experience Officer aka guide), Ruby. She has been doing the job for a number of years so we expect she will be more than capable. We introduced ourselves around the group (12 in all though one had yet to arrive) and Ruby ran through an overview of the itinerary. Ages range from 19 to 70. It should be an interesting group. There are 2 others from Australia, 4 from England, 2 from Northern Ireland, and 1 from Canada. Ruby is from India, somewhere near the Nepalese border area. We start tomorrow at 7:30 am, a bit earlier than usual because Donald Trump is in town. We have a long day of travel and from what Ruby indicated, there is little chance our parcel will get in the mail tomorrow either.
After dinner most of us went for dinner at Kitchen with a Cause. I was not hungry and thought I was still feeling bloated after our late lunch. No doubt that was part of it but there might be something more. I was not able to eat much and we got home as quickly as possible after dinner in case I began to feel worse.