A brief background to this Memsahibs dad ‘series’ is that I have been specialising in travel to India since 1997. I moved here in 2006 and yet my parents never visited me, it just wasn’t mum’s idea of a place she wanted to see. Sadly she died 3 years ago, just before Christmas and I have been chipping away at dad ever since. He finally agreed to come this year, for three weeks over Christmas and New Year. He turns 80 in 2 month’s time.
Now, I have a thing about travel to India, most people see this extraordinary country almost two dimensionally, a set of monuments to tick off their list, oh and hopefully a tiger too. It is however, so much more than that, and so my intention, with my father’s trip, was to showcase to him, and my FB and blog followers, an India experienced through its people and ‘experiences’ and not just a set of monuments. Not only this but how it can be tailored to a set of personal preferences and not just what most people think you should see. In dad’s case, this was classic cars, in my case, I had to squeeze in a horse ride on Boxing Day – it’s tradition in my world at least. Of course, one can’t disregard all monuments, and so I handpicked what I perceive to be the two ‘must see’s’ on a trip around Rajasthan. They may not be the ones which you expect. Also, given that he is a grammatical pedant, and has edited my ‘will be published one day novel,’ which is all about living in a tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh, I had to take him there too.
This series is a taster of what we did and how we did it, in some cases, as they were featured on FB, in other cases, slightly embellished. I hope that you enjoy the journey and discover a destination as I believe it should be seen – slightly differently!
Dad’s Trip – Part 1, Delhi.
The pedant has landed! Straight into the lap of luxury; I couldn’t inflict my hospitality on him straight away, so I booked him into The Imperial, where else? He arrived too late for dinner, but not too late for a beverage or two and so we hit the bar. Sadly they don’t serve Kingfisher (India’s no 1 beer) and so he had to settle for imported and as we were on his credit card, I could treat myself too – there will be time enough for Indian wines.
Now, no hotel in Delhi gives a sense of its colonial past better than The Imperial, and whilst I think that India needs to reinvent itself, The Imperial, is the landmark hotel of India and a must on a ‘Britishers’ tick list. Even if you can’t afford to stay, it is worth bobbing into 1911 for coffee and their delectable creme brulee, a treat I give myself once every so often. The hotel is also a museum in its own right with the finest collection of lithographs in the country.
After the best sleep he had had in months followed by a lazy morning and leisurely lunch, one can’t rush an old bugger, we hit New Delhi. I knew that my knowledge wouldn’t be enough to sustain his level of intellect so I instructed the help of India City Walks who were not only kind enough to provide one of their excellent guides, but allowed me to add my own inputs into dad’s tour.
He marvelled at the sheer scale of Lutyen’s Delhi, one has no sense of the extent of this British designed (if not built, lets be realistic) project until one sees it and he was in awe, if slightly embarrassed by the connotations of Empire. He very much enjoyed my favourite of Delhi’s UNESCO monuments, Humayun’s Tomb, was astounded by the ancient step well hidden just behind CP, proclaiming it as a ‘totally unexpected surprise.’ I also got him in an auto, it just had to be done, in the safe environs of Rajpath, and we somehow managed to get the most sedate auto driver in India who crawled along at 10kmph. Of course, I have done and seen this all before and have no memory for detail, hence the reason for instructing a guide from India City Walks. So whilst dad was quizzing him over trade routes, religions and empires and imparting one or two facts of his own, I was amusing myself with street art and goats in jumpers.
Delhi, successfully completed.