Lessons in Diplomacy
At the start of the week I got a sudden urge to get on with my mission to China... I packed up and rushed off towards Delhi barely saying goodbye to team up here in North India.
I got the bus down to the capital and headed for one of the city's plushest hotels. Thinking to treat myself a little before jetting off to mainland China.
As the bellboy opened the door to my suite, I was amazed to find a lounge area with leather sofas, TV, kitchen area. Bathroom with a telephone near the toilet in case of emergencies. A queen size bed with the deepest mattress ever that I sunk into with ease.
I walked across the road to the Chinese Embassy where I took a number, sat down patiently and waited, like a good Englishman should. The advisor confirmed what I suspected: I did need a letter from the British Embassy before applying for my visa.
Having secured a reasonably priced tuk-tuk/rickshaw, I skim across town in sweltering heat towards the British High Commission. With a Starbucks' extra large Caramel Macchiato in hand we stop at some traffic lights. A half naked Indian boy runs up to me with his little willy hanging out, reaching up to grab the coffee. "Really" I say, "you want the coffee?" he seemed to agree... so off he went the best coffee I'd managed to secure in India.
The traffic was insane, utter gridlock at points with opposing directions of cars, rickshaws and motorbikes facing each other in a motor-revving stand off. Each person jutting an inch and looking for the smallest gaps. People crash and it's as if I were watching someone at the dodgems, people gesticulate and drive off grinning.
After negotiating various security gates at the High Commission, I got to see a lady who said she could give me the letter with a 4000R/£40 administration fee, nice. She was a tad blunt and obviously stressed out as the lady before me was screaming a little. So that was it then, a two day fiasco with a 600 mile or 1000 km round trip all for those very precious few minutes I got her to answer that simple question.
I'd already tried calling and getting lost in their phone system. I'd emailed with no response at all. I could have saved myself a huge amount of hassle and time if they simply had someone you could talk to on the phone. Dag nam it.
It turns out my friends in China won't be requiring my presence for a few weeks after all so I can squeeze in a bit more volunteering while I'm here...
So I head back to the luscious hotel to rinse the minibar, stand for hours in the power shower, swim in the rain and relax in my uber funky bed. It's not easy you know; the life of a backpacker.
I did stumble out of the palace, situated in the middle of Select City Walk Mall, to find a Hard Rock sign which I followed until I met Mac. He kindly walked me right to the front door, where the waiter and his supervisor David were all worth a mention more so than the great food I sampled. India's got such a sweet nature in that sense, people love to talk and share stories, ideas. It was a great vibe and certainly worth a visit if you're in the area. Merci gentlemen, now it is enough pampering for me.
The land in the North beckons me. I need clean air. I'm sure Delhi's an amazing city but every time I'm here I can't wait to leave. So hot, so dirty, smog everywhere and insane traffic.
A smoothish 12-14 hour bus ride later and our path home is blocked by a landslide on the road. All very exciting, or it would be if it wasn't 5am.
I'm happy to be back up north and I'm super excited about the next chapters in life. Things are starting to take a very positive, new direction. Mr Daniel aka Sir has some homework to do first. Big tings a guan! Pay attention class...
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