Thursday, 7 May 2009

Fitness First

Starting the day with a huge, delicious breakfast was the best thing that we could have done. This was to be a day of strenuous activity. We began by walking a great distance, browsing through the bazaars and stopping in at various cafés. Once again we spent a good time in the Saravana Bhavan where we tried a selection of tasty drinks (and onion bhajis!). The bhajis were accompanied with the best curry sauce that we have had throughout the whole of our journey, the only problem with it was that there wasn’t enough! Back to the fluids though: we had carrot juice (that’s as orange as drinks go!) and fresh lime soda, which came with some sweet syrup in case we didn’t want it too bitter.
As we were mooching through the small handicraft bazaars, the multi-tonal sound of frantic bongo beats crept up behind us. This reminded us of yesterday, when we were followed by a young lad playing one of his many bongos skilfully as he tried to make sales. When we looked around we found that it was the same persistent chap and that he was having a second go at selling us a drum for one-thousand-two-hundred rupees or so. We continued exploring the stalls, wandering in and out of shops, but, without fail, he would always be outside waiting patiently. And then the funky rhythms would begin all over again.
Come the evening, we found just what we had been looking for all day, to cure an immense feeling of exercise deprivation. Infact, we hadn’t been to any gyms for the whole of the trip, so we seized the moment and had a blast. When enquiring about the entrance fees, we found that it was pretty expensive. It was almost six-hundred rupees per person, but to our surprise the manager admitted two of us for the price of one. The gym was amazing: full of fantastic machines, complete with a sauna, steam room and loads of people. The atmosphere was buzzing and, in some corners, it was as if people were treating the gym as a social event rather than just a work out. All in the medium of English… Was this the Delhi high-society?
A cycling class was taking place just as we entered, so in we went for one hour of intense pain. The young Indian woman instructing the class was a barrel of laughs and she was really enjoying her job. Her smiles never stopped coming and she was forever singing with the music. We were pleasantly surprised that the classes and general announcements at the gym are spoken in English, which meant that we knew what to do and when we had to leave the gym. In previous parts of the journey, we have been slightly left in the dark on things like bus journeys where they only made announcements in Hindi, or Bengali during our time in Bangladesh.
We enjoyed the other machines in the gym too, whilst we were training independently. Time went by unbelievably fast, and before we knew it, we had completed two-and-a-half solid hours of intensive, gruelling exercise. I have been missing that!
The drinks’ corner provided complimentary soft drinks, so we took a Mirinda out onto the roof of the gym to watch the pulsating night-time cityscape of Delhi unfolding beneath us, with its glitzy lights and frenetic traffic. What a cosmopolitan area Connaught Place is!
As we tried to leave, the doormen erupted into a mighty argument involving pushing, punching and raised voices. “Call security”, said Simon, helpfully. “They ARE Security”, sniggered the manager, adding: “These poor Indians, they have no education, so this is how they behave!” He himself, of course, was Indian to the core.
After a stroll around the immense circle of Connaught Place, we discovered ‘Shanghai Express’. Curried-out once more, it came as a welcome relief to tuck into some amazing oriental food: a flavoursome roasted-garlic soup, and a Thai style soup with coconut milk and red curry paste really hit the spot, whilst a chop suey gave a great post-exercise hit. Just to spoil your perception of the Chinese cuisine, chop suey is actually an American concoction and was not actually invented by the Chinese. It originated in a San Francisco diner in the nineteenth century, when the owner received some hungry last minute guests. With only a few leftover vegetables and some noodles, his creativity sparked as he threw the lot into a huge wok, creating a wonderful tasting dish.
And then back at the hotel, it began to dawn on Simon what was happening: Tim and Tom, take note! Wouldn’t it be ironic to have journeyed through the entirety of South Asia and NOT have contracted ‘Delhi-Belly’, only to have arrived in Delhi at the end, and fall victim to this nasty little affliction? For the full story, we need to rewind just a little:
At breakfast on our first morning in the capital, after paying the bill, Simon had a peculiar verbal exchange with the waiter. He tendered the EXACT money to pay the bill, yet the waiter seemed perplexed by this strategy. “No tips?” mumbled the irate steward. “No tips!” confirmed our traveller. “Where you from?” continued our café assistant, before the duo chirped in unison: “England!”
“England: rich country”, observed the waiter as he stumbled away, and Simon tried to add: “India: poor country spending too much on its space and nuclear programmes to help the poor.” But it was all in vain; he had disappeared before the first words were out. We didn’t think much more of it, but slightly in guilt, we tipped reasonably for the subsequent two breakfasts.
But yesterday, Simon ordered a very enjoyable Mango Lassi. As he sucked enthusiastically at the straw to hoover up the last remaining mouthfuls from the bottom of the glass, there it was, forlornly staring up at him. An ice cube. The others had melted, leaving the final, incontrovertible evidence for all to see. Now we can only surmise how the ice made it into Simon’s lassi, and whether or not this ice was made from sterilised water would be very hard to prove. And the biggest suspicion: that the waiter had put it there deliberately to cause the convulsions of agony as a means of punishing the tight-fisted bourgeois westerner: well this must remain pure speculation. BUT, intrepid travellers beware, and learn from the mistakes of the ‘India, Bangladesh (plus Nepal) and Jordan’ explorers. Exploring on YOUR behalf: NEVER, never, never get complacent, and NEVER let your guard down as the finishing line approaches.
And so here we sit at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, awaiting our flight to Amman on Royal Jordanian Airlines. For the trip is far, far from over: the next exciting instalment awaits us!


  1. So there was no ice in Jons drink I take it..

  2. That will teach you not to be so mean!!

  3. It's amazing blog about Fitness.And I willing to get fitness.So I will join Fitness Club in Delhi.

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