Saturday March 7, 2015

“Namaste!” (hello) called our greeters at Delhi Airport as they hung a welcoming garland of orange marigolds around our necks. After an uneventful flight last night from Singapore, we made our way through wall-to-wall bodies and loaded ourselves onto the rather old coach that would be our transport for the next three days.

The ‘motorway’ that took us into this huge, sprawling city was crammed with blaring early evening traffic: cars ancient and modern, rusty trucks and multi-coloured buses, kids on bikes, fleet-footed pedestrians ducking and diving between the crawling, stop-start flow. White painted lines appeared randomly on the road surface, but nobody seemed to bother about lanes. In fact, an occasional motor-scooter would appear, weaving its way against the current in the opposite direction.

“There are three things you need when driving in Delhi,” said our handsome young escort. “Good brakes … good horn … and good luck!”

No, sorry, we weren’t lucky enough to book at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Instead, rooms and beds had been prepared for us at Jaypee Vasant Continental – and off to sleep we went. But we were lucky enough to wake up this morning to a special day in India: the popular celebration of ‘Holi’ – or ‘Festival of Colours’.

02 Delhi Holi 00

This fun event (which marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring harvest) got its name from Lord Krishna (a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu) who liked to play pranks on village girls by drenching them in water and colours. People spend this public holiday smearing coloured powder all over each other’s faces, throwing coloured water at each other, and dancing under water-sprinklers. It’s the most fun-filled and boisterous of all Hindu festivals … a time for laughter and play, when people hug and greet each other, make-up and forgive each other.

So, for an hour or two today, as this photo-gallery reveals, we Kiwis joined in the madness!


PEOPLE NEWS: Our Mad Midlife Awards on this trip are DONKEYS (not ducks) – little, grey, lighting-up, hee-hawing, wonky donkeys. And two early winners have received theirs already:

  • Nola got the “Where’s a Bag-Boy When You Need One?” Award – for leaving her luggage beside the carousel at Singapore’s Changi Airport and walking off without it.
  • Brenda got the “Hard to Believe She’s Never Received an Award” Award – for never once receiving an award despite enjoying six different cruises and tours with Midlife Madness. Gotcha, Brenda!

TOMORROW: We explore the crowded narrow lanes and chaotic bazaars of Old Delhi – not on foot but by cycle-rickshaws. Hold onto your hats!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this entry, and add your ‘COMMENTS’! Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief. And if you want to receive future blogs hot-off-the-press in your INBOX, just sign-up (top-right) for your free Email Subscription!