India – Terrorist bombings and a killer dust storm all on day one! (2008)

In May 2008 I went to  India to travel the area known as the Golden Triangle (New Delhi, Jaipur in Rajasthan and Agra) to do some sightseeing, go to  IPL Twenty 20 Cricket matches and to take a side trip to Ranthambore National Park to see Bengal Tigers. I have kept my travel emails from that trip, so I thought it might be fun to repost them here and add a few photos.  This blog is Part 1 of that journey (New Delhi).

May 14th, 2008

Hi All

Well survived my first day in India without any major issues – amazing how many attempts to scam you or beg off you can happen in one day!!! Had one kid carrying a baby follow me for about 6 blocks – dedicated to his work (all for nothing of course!). Other than that have had to have the negotiation head on my shoulders – even just to get a auto-rickshaw trip needs to be negotiated before you get on – all this on about 3 hours sleep!

Well India certainly threw the lot at me today – wake up to find that up to 8 terrorist bombs went off in Jaipur. Many people died or were injured as the bombs on bicycles were mostly in market places – a terrible event. I am in New Delhi at the moment, a long way from Jaipur – going there on friday. I am sure it will settle down by then – they have a curfew there at the moment). This is reminiscent of Egypt when I was there in 1997 when 2 terrorist attacks occurred in cities that I was visiting (one in Cairo the other near Luxor).

Jaipur Bombing 2008 india
Jaipur Bombing

I always register with the Australian Government service www.smarttraveller.gov.au when I am travelling to a third world destination and I found out that it does work, a government representative called me that day to confirm that I was OK and to see if I needed any help. Very impressive, I explained I was OK and not near the bombing locations, but it was good to know that they do monitor such situations and that help is available.

I went to Jama Masjid the largest mosque in India – built in the 1600’s (commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan the builder of the Taj Mahal in 1644 and completed 1658). Whilst there a great windy dust storm hit the city, closely followed by a heavy rain storm. The sky went dark so quickly. Myself and about 20 locals all ran for shelter in a government security shelter – rain was coming in sideways – all of us were more or less drenched and freezing!!!! Electrical wires were sparking all over the place – yet we were all laughing!  It was a pretty funny situation all these people under a tin roof and the streets around us in chaos with sparks flying!!! Later in the day it was sunny and hot as hell! It turned out to be the worst dust storm in 10 years and sadly at least 5 people were killed by it in New Delhi that day!

Jama Masjid mosque new delhi india
Jama Masjid

Traffic is mad – I got in at 2am and there was traffic built right up even then. Today an auto-rickshaw I was in smashed the back of a motor scooter – some yelling went on and that was it – no insurance or exchanging of addresses here!!! Imagine buses, trucks, cars, auto -rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, bikes, motorbikes, scooters, donkeys, horses and pedestrians in the middle of it all trying to cross the road. Its crazy but exciting!!

Amongst all this I also went to the Red Fort and the Ghandi Memorial, wandered the streets for hours just checking it all out (sights, smells and everything in between). One thing is for sure, I am going vegetarian during my stay in India. I saw a butchers shop today with the meat hanging in the open and the heat covered in flies!!!! Oh and I got a ticket for the cricket thursday night (purchased at a chemist!) – so look for me in the crowd (Delhi Daredevils vs Deccan Chargers).

Red Fort new delhi india
Red Fort

I wanted an adventure – got one already!

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