It seems like I have arrived on a good day. A few hours ago, the Indian authorities announced that as of 31st March all covid restrictions would be lifted, with the exception of wearing face coverings in public places. Going by what I have seen so far, even that rule is being applied with extreme elasticity.
So, first things first, I started the day at our office in south Delhi. In November 2019, the last time I visited, this was a vibrant place, buzzing with activity as the team of 12 worked hard to make sure that all our clients were being looked after on their various journeys around India. Today, that team has shrunk considerably and most of those that are still working are doing so from home. In fact, besides JP and myself, only Meje was in – it felt rather forlorn.
However, with enquiries now picking up, JP and I had a very positive meeting, vowing to start bringing the team back by the summer, when our first group tours start to depart – primarily to Ladakh and Kashmir. By then I’m sure the place will be back to being vibrant once more.
After the usual lunch of two delicious samosas, we took a stroll through Lodi Gardens, one of my favourite parks in Delhi. The site of many beautiful tombs of the Lodi Dynasty that ruled Delhi around 500 years ago, today it’s a place for students, joggers, old couples, and young lovers to enjoy a bit of calm in an otherwise busy city. Even though there is a rule that one should wear a face covering in public places, few did.
The same was the case down at Humayun’s Tomb, which I have always thought was one of the capital city’s most magnificent sites. Here again, locals and Indian day-trippers wandered around the garden, beside the flowering bougainvillaea, up amongst the tomb itself, all the while trying to find that perfect Facebook profile shot, but there were precious few Western tourists. With covid restrictions only recently being eased and the cooler tourist season disappearing into the heat of summer, we expect more to return this autumn.
But that said the numbers will be a long way short of the peak of 2019. So if you do want to see India, and particularly the traditionally busy sites of Rajasthan, this autumn could be a good time to come.
This evening out in the town, walking around Connaught Place, the busy clothes market off Janpath and at dinner in the wonderfully named, Kwality Restaurant, life seems to be getting back to normal. Although they have had a bad pandemic the people of Delhi, just like the people of London, seem to be pushing on through and reverting back to more normal times.
Thank goodness for that!