Juanito’s Travels 50 yr backpacker – 1995 Jaipur. Rajasthan, India, this guy Steve from Australia, a Belgian couple, elephant rides and a dead tiger on a floor, pt21


I was woken just before dawn by the conductor. They were so efficient these Indians, and super polite, I was constantly feeling like a regal gentleman, even though I was clearly a hippy with just a few dollars to his name. “Mr Royston, your stop is soon”, he said. And I woke up and looked out the window at the pre dawn light as we pulled closer to Jaipur and the Indian guy scoured and the British guy remained sound asleep.

Maybe 20 minutes later I was outside looking for a rickshaw to take me to meet Steve, who wanted me to meet him at another cheaper place he was staying by himself before we headed to the place he’d read about in his Lonely Planet that he invited me to come along to so he could share the cost. He’d written down the address of the place he was staying on a bit of paper which I unscrambled and explained to the auto rickshaw driver.

There was hardly anybody on the roads at this time. It was dusty. the place was just waking up. The cows were sitting under trees. People slept out in the open here and there. The pedal rickshaw driver drove around a bit past a few crossings and then back down some of the same street until I eventually spotted the name of the hotel Steve had told me about and got him to stop there.

I was barely able to stay awake. I sat around in the garden of the hotel under some trees with monkeys in them, clutching anything small enough for the monkeys to take as they would take it if you turned your eyes for a few seconds. The hotel had a bit of a restaurant happening outside. I was hungry and ordered some chai and whatever else they had on offer, perhaps some more chapatis, or even corn flakes and yoghurt. Steve showed up in a bit and looked up at the monkeys. “I hate those monkeys, they take anything”. He has remained as charming as when I first met him in New Delhi. He had his bags ready, he seemed pretty confident I was going to come. I wasn’t too fussed to be there, but Jaipur was an improvement on New Delhi in terms of the sound, and even had more trees and the like. It was almost suburban where we were.

We made our way to the famous hotel from Lonely Planet. I just wanted to sleep. When checking in I kept yawning.

“Cover your mouth when you yawn”, the man at reception barked.

“What, sorry, I have been travelling all night.”

“Only illiterate people don’t cover their mouth when they yawn”, he said.

‘Sorry”, I said. A few moments later, I yawned again and was so tired I forgot to raise my hand to my mouth in time. This time the guys just glared at me. We got the keys and I went sheepishly off to the room.

The room had two beds and I immediately lay down on mine after taking my shoes off and just lay and rested. Steve asked what I was going to see in Jaipur.

“I dunno”, I said, “I don’t have any guidebook or anything, I wasn’t really planning on being in India at all, so no idea, I’m gonna rest a bit first before doing anything.”

“I’m going to go to look around a bit.”

I waved him off and got in maybe a half hour power nap which left me slightly more refreshed. I got up and looked around the hotel. It had a beautiful garden that included a peacock and some fine roses. It was kind of fancy, much more than I’d be able to afford anywhere else in the world. Still it was a bit of a stretch in my meagre budget so I could only do a maximum of 2 nights there I figured.

I found Steve in the garden smoking a cigarette and drinking some chai. I sat down at the table with him. He had his Lonely Planet sitting next to him on the table closed. I pointed to it.

“Do you mind if I take a look at your guide?” I asked.

He looked at me as though I had asked him to donate a kidney. “You should have bought your own rather than bludge off someone else”.

“Woh, ok” I said. Not sure what distorted sort of childhood this guy Steve had but anyway I wasn’t going to argue.

Steve seems to regret his outburst and a minute or so later tries to explain himself. “I met a lot of people with no money in India, trying to take advantage, that’s all”.

“Up to you mate, I don’t mind”. I said. It’s funny the things that stick in your head over the decades, like some guy called Steve who wouldn’t lend me a Lonely Planet, while so many other details are lost.

He was a weird one that Steve. I got up and went back to the room to freshen up. What I really wanted was a shower. I didn’t have the energy to engage with Steve over his fancy Lonely Planet book. I had a prejudice against Lonely Planet, in my mind it wasn’t for real travellers anyway. Real travellers just went with the flow. In 2023 I’ve drawn on them extensively because they provide some great tips. I even contributed to one, helping edit the Ireland guide (I think in 1997) while doing a placement for my university writing and editing course.

But back in 1995, I had a shower and got into some fresh clothes, it always seems like a layer or dirt was scraped off your body whenever you showered in India. There was just so much dust, and in New Delhi the added smog. It will be an amazing transition when they have electric auto rickshaws and electric cars zooming around the streets.

I sat back down on my bed. Steve came in a bit later. He apologised and handed me the Lonely Planet guide to have a look at. I wasn’t too proud to take it and flicked through for some ideas as to what to do for the day. I saw there was a fort on a hill outside of town.

“This Amber Fort sounds good”, I said.

“I went there yesterday”, said Steve.

“Cool, well I might head off there. Do you want to catch up for dinner late for something.”

“Sure”, said Steve.

After a bit more resting I made my way to the fort. Jaipur was a pretty pretty city (the first pretty used in the sense of quite – when I travelled with Corinne years earlier she was struck by the phrase ‘pretty ugly’ thinking it must mean pretty and ugly at the same time, rather than quite ugly. In some ways Jaipur was also pretty ugly. It had beautiful buildings dominated by this marvellous pink colour but also its ugly side, rubbish, dust, grime, a wall where men just pissed out in the open and the urine ran between their legs into the gutter. Of course it also had its cows, I loved the cows.

When I got to the fort I spotted a line for elephants which were taking people to the top of the hill to visit the fort. In 2023 I’m more aware of the welfare of elephants, and my wife and I are planning a trip to an ethical, non-riding, elephant sanctuary in Laos. Back in 1995 I was super keen to jump on the back of one and make my way up the hill like a Raj on a tiger hunt. And it only cost around 120 rupee return – about a $1.20AUD maybe, based on more recent exchange rates.

The line was kind of like those at a theme park where they had to fill a carriage and they have a spare seat and they yell out for anyone who is there by themselves, like they sometimes do on lines to get on roller coasters at Movie World and other theme parks on the Gold Coast. A couple had climbed onto an elephant and were waiting to depart. The mahout called me up and asked whether I wanted to ride with the couple.

“Is that ok with you guys?” I asked the couple.

“Yes, that is fine.” they replied.

So I climbed on and we rocked back and forth, and side to side, as we went slowly up the hill. As soon as the elephant had departed there were at least two hawkers, who seemed to be officially assigned to the elephant, who tried to sell their wares on the way up the hill, yelling offer after offer. One was selling bracelets, scarves and other knick knacks, the other string puppets. I had no room,  or interest, for either in my backpack but ignoring them, saying no, saying I wasn’t interested had zero effect on them, they were like super-hero level hawkers in India and the word ‘no’ had no effect on them, only a sale would stop them. At least the puppet man, who followed us the whole way up the hill. I think he started trying to sell the puppets for 400 rupees and by the time we’d gotten to the top was offering them to us for 200, or maybe even 100. It is like when you go to the supermarket and you see all these signs everywhere saying everything’s 50% off. Yeah, that’s only because you jack up the prices by 50% first every now and again. I’m sure this guy went on to be a consultant for Coles and Woolworths.

The couple I was sharing the elephant with ended up being Belgian. Well they also started off being Belgian. They didn’t suddenly change as they went up the hill in line with the puppet prices, perhaps starting as Swedish and working their way down through Denmark and Holland until they declared they were actually Belgian. That’s no reflection on the value of Belgians, and these ones were very, very nice. They were newlyweds and had decided to go on a trip to India for their honeymoon. They were smiley and very friendly and we chatted about our trips and where we were off to next. They had a plan to visit some bird sanctuary and of course I had no freakin idea.

In 2023 my wife and I listened to a podcast from some newlyweds who were commercialising their love by making a podcast about their honeymoon. The episode was about Chiang Mai, and they kept mentioning they were newlyweds and that they had met other newlyweds and blah, blah, blah, the usual inane shit. My wife and I are constantly on honeymoon and we don’t go making podcasts about it. I did start this blog though I guess, but that’s different. I don’t think anyone reads it and I’m merely hoping for posthumous fame, like Franz Kafka when they discovered his work and published it. It was genius. That’s all I want, people to find this when I die and say, wow, he was a genius. So just after vanity not money. I do have my principles.

I don’t remember a great deal about the Amber Fort. I guess that’s why, in 2023 we take millions of photos of everything, so we can look back and look at them and say, oh yeah, I must have visited this place and that place because I have all these photos of it. Back then in 1995, I just experienced the place, and for the most part left that back in the 90s. I do remember some room of mirrors and some beautiful architecture, and sitting and looking out at the value below looking at the view, the reddy soil, the acacias, the vultures riding the thermal winds, and the monkeys scurrying over the Parapets, the tourists walking through the place taking photos. I think I was too tired to take it all at the time. Though that happens sometimes, when you visit places. When I went to Italy with my daughter we visited Pompeii, which is amazing, but we just wandered the streets aimlessly and were kinda too tired to see how amazing it was. That’s travel.

After our fort tour, the Belgians and I got back on our elephant and headed back down the hill, with several more hawkers in tow. At the bottom, I went and bought the elephant a mango and fed it to her and patted her trunk. She didn’t seem too unhappy, no less unhappy than many of the poor Indians in India at the time. Just trying to survive. The Belgians invited me back to their hotel for a drink. I was like sure. We headed back.

Wow, these Belgians were staying at a super fancy place. It was quite literally an ex palace of a Raj. They showed me their room – don’t worry this is a g-rated blog and this is not about to degenerate into some sordid offer a threesome with the newlyweds. They were, and as far as I know still, happily married. They were just being nice and Belgian – I don’t think I’ve met any other Belgians so I’m assuming their whole country is full of nice people. Whether or not they are into threesomes, I don’t know, it’s not for me to judge, and if they are it doesn’t in any way diminish their niceness. Anyway they had a fancy four poster bed and even a real dead tiger as a carpet on the floor.

Ok it was a real dead tiger, I think it had been dead for quite some time and when it was killed attitudes were very different, so I’m not sure why you would throw out a perfectly good dead tiger skin. And besides, India has recently reintroduced cheetahs back into India and the cheetahs are even having babies, so let’s focus not he presence. I must admit the tiger did look freaking awesome.

The Belgians seemed cornered that I had no plans so they offered to take me with them to the bird sanctuary they were visiting the next day. They had hired their own personal driver so they could offer me a seat there. I was like sure and we agreed to meet the next day.

I went back to the hotel and Steve and I went out for dinner. I told him of the elephant ride and the plan to go to the bird sanctuary. He said, ‘looking at some birds is a waste of time’. I’m not sure what his plans were, I think he may have mentioned that he was going to Pushkar or something before heading back to New Delhi and back to Australia.

We chatted a bit more and ate some more dhal and chapatis. Steve went on about how grubby India was, he didn’t like the place, the rubbish in the streets, the peeing wall, the constant hassling of the hawkers. To an extent I agree, the intensity of the place was driving me a bit crazy as well. But Steve, he really hated the place, I just found it tough to handle. Steve had a greater appetite than mine and ordered around 6-7 chapatis to my 2-3. We went back to the hotel, and the next day went our own ways.

When I got back to Australia I looked up Steve. I rang up his house and his mum answered. She told me he’d killed himself. Seems he’d gone to their holiday home somewhere and shot himself. I’m not sure she was as detailed as that but she may have been. I guess it wasn’t just India that was too much for him, it was life in general. In retrospect he must have been very depressed. I felt for him and his family. R.I.P


Juanito’s Travels 50-Yr-Backpacker – 1995 New Delhi India without a visa but with a little scam Pt18 (not pt IX of Star Wars)

New Delhi India Street 1995

March 2023

There’s risks with nostalgia. Stuart, from the biodynamic farm, Inisglas, I first stayed on when I visited Wexford, Ireland, told me: “never look back”. I perhaps interpret that as never hold onto the past. Anyway Stuart said lots of things and was against floppy discs and technology in general so I will ignore Stuart and go back to reflecting on a trip from 27, now 28 years ago. Though Stuart did have a point of the need to move forward. Sometimes I want to try and recapture the spirit I had back then in 1995 rather than move on. But I also like to remember.

Patrick Leigh Fermor looked back on his trip walking from Holland to Constantinople in the early 30s in a trilogy starting with A Time of Gifts. That was a nice reflection, not trying to change the past, just remembering. It’s a nice slow read with some interesting details of the past. A Time of Gifts wasn’t published until 1977. That was the year Star Wars IV: A New Hope was first released in cinemas.

Star Wars IV: A New Hope is a very good film. One of the best of all times. It has a very simple story, lots of action. It had the character of Hammerhead, the best supporting character ever to appear in a film. I wrote a fan fiction featuring him in a story I wrote: Cuba: with Hammerhead the star of Star Wars: A New Hope.  I bought an action figure of Hammerhead in the late seventies when I went to Toombul shopping centre in Brisbane with my grandfather. My cousin Alistair told me I should be getting all the main figures before I started getting the more obscure ones. But Alistair’s family was rich, I had to choose more carefully, and I couldn’t go past a dude with a head like a hammerhead.

 Star Wars IV brings back wonderful childhood memories that I love to reflect on. I still have a Hammerhead action figure (even with the original weapon), along with a Jawa and Greedo. Now in 2023, I am faced with the nightmare of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, one of the most disappointing films I’ve ever seen. EP VII was okayish, EP VIII got worse and was a waste of however long it took to watch it, maybe 2 hours or something. Then came Ep. IX: a confusing nostalgic homage to a great trilogy that began in 1977, and has still, yet to be surpassed. A New Hope brought so much hope. Then the hopes were slowly destroyed. Years later the originally released trilogy was followed by a prequel trilogy which did have their moments, they were ok, even looked like they were going to be good, but then Annikan just walked around being grumpy and frumpy all the time like some petulant child and in the end it just got shitter and shitter. And then came the abyss of the trilogy sequel, where the only stars were those from the 1977 film, including two non-human, non-droid stars, the Death Star and the Millennium Falcon. Those began the era where the writers couldn’t get away from their nostalgia for what was once good, where not one new idea was created, where they created another Death Star, like they had been stuck in the tractor beam of that original Death Star since 1977, which meant the best they could do was now create a new Death Star which was now the size of a planet.

The sequel is full of characters who die and then come back to life and save lightsabers from being chucked into fires and having chats with their sons. Where Palpatine comes back to life and wants to take over the universe again and the character Stoke or Snoke or something was really Palpatine. Where all the actors can do is keep yelling out “Poe!” or whatever. They’re always yelling! When Luke yelled it sounded like he was yelling for a reason. When the new ones yell I’m left asking: What the feck are they yelling about? And they just keep flying around to places to find some triangle thing which will show them how to get to some other place they need to go to to destroy a new star fleet filled with star cruisers which, like the Death Star, can destroy whole planets, but like there’s heaps of them, thousands or something – must be cheaper in CGI to just make one and then copy it hundreds of times.  I couldn’t tell you how Ep. IX ends, I’ve struggled to get halfway through it and not sure I can bear the pain any more.

But enough of the horrific side of nostalgia and back to my own reflections of adventures past, in the lead up to my new adventures in a few weeks.

1995: Maybe November

After the 20 odd days in France at the Vipassana meditation centre, and hitchhiking from Paris to London with Beth,  it was time to try and make my way back to Australia.

My Thai Airways ticket had options to stop in India and Thailand on the way. I had to stop in Bangkok, even just to change planes. India was an optional stop. All I wanted to do was go home, but when I booked my ticket in Paris, at a travel agent, before the time of online bookings, before leaving for London, they only had a seat available to New Delhi, India, where I’d have to wait at least a week before getting another seat from India to Bangkok, then Bangkok to Melbourne. I’d at least only have to spend one night in London before heading off.

I had about £80 to cover the 16,800 kms from London to Melbourne. I spent around £10-15 staying a night in London. I probably got a slice of pizza for a couple of pounds. I had to get out of London otherwise I’d go broke: Down and Out in Paris and London. London felt that way at the moment, I felt I had a pretty good time in Paris. I always love Paris. My friend Howie wasn’t too impressed with it. He also thought Laos was so-so. I’ll be finding out about Laos at the end of April (2023).

My first leg back to Australia via New Delhi posed another challenge. My visa for India, which I got before leaving Australia, had expired. It was one of those ones that went from the day you stamped it and this one lasted 3 months. The three months were up about 3 months or so ago. I looked at getting another visa but it cost £20 and would take 2 days to get. I couldn’t afford 2 more nights in London or the £20 for the visa. Figuring if they caught me in New Delhi they’d deport me towards Australia I thought I’d just risk it. I wasn’t too worried about deportation at that point having almost been deported the first day arriving in London at the beginning of my trip.

I got up early the next day and was heading into the tube somewhere around Earls Court, perhaps Earls Court station around 5.30am. I think I had to wait a little until the first train to Heathrow. I looked at tickets out to the airport and it cost something ridiculous like £12. Maybe it was only £6, but it felt like a fortune at the time and any amount I spent meant breaking a precious  £ note and getting coins which couldn’t be converted to rupee in India. Even though it would take a big hit from my remaining funds I couldn’t bring myself to jump the gate. Better to get out of the place with a little less money than get arrested on the way to the airport.

They didn’t ask to see my Indian visa when I was checking in to the plane with my blue backpack, and by mid-morning I was heading in the right direction on my final legs. I was out of Europe.

I slept a fair bit on the way to New Delhi and I didn’t feel too bad when I got there. I lined up for immigration when I arrived and a big scary looking man with a big hipster – before hipsters really took off 20 years later – moustache looked at my passport, he looked at me, he looked closely (apparently) at my expired visa then looked at me again, then without a word he stamped my passport and let me enter India. I shrugged my shoulders. ‘Whatever’ I thought, if they let me in, that’s on them. Now I’d just have to wait it out in India for a week or so. At least it was a place where my remaining £40 could get me somewhere. But of course it wasn’t going to be that easy and I was about to fall for another small scam, within my first minutes of arriving. This wasn’t a scam of the scale I’d had in Bangkok on the way over to Europe but it still cost me a bit.

I walked out of the terminal and was hit by the heat and the haze of dust glowing with pinks, purples and oranges of an Indian sunset. I was entering what seemed to be the largest, most chaotic car park in the universe. There were thousands and thousands of cars, and even more thousands of people, cooking things, selling things, yelling at each other, yelling at me, trying to get me to take a taxi. I was pretty sure there were a few donkeys and perhaps an elephant in amongst the throng. There were a lot of cows and dogs for sure.

I chose a taxi about 50 metres from the exit. I asked the driver to take me to the backpacker area which I knew was around Connaught Place. We drove along a very long dusty road, there were more cows, many more people, and more dogs around.

“Sir, that area of Connaught Place is dangerous at the present time. We have Hindu/ Muslim troubles. It is not safe. I can take you to a nice safe area, with nice hotel”.

It was before the times of the internet so there was no way to check if there really was Hindu/ Muslim troubles. I kind of doubted it, and felt a bit like a scam was coming on, but figured I could probably cover a hotel for a couple of days while I waited for the $200 to be sent to me from Australia via Western Union, which I’d asked my family to lend me before leaving Europe. So I went where the guy took me.

When I got to the hotel I explained to them that I was waiting on money and could fix them up when that arrived in the next few days. I rang my sister and she even tried to pay for the hotel with a credit card. But it was 1995, and the hotel guys wouldn’t take a credit card, they wanted cold hard cash. There wasn’t even an ATM around to get cash transferred and withdrawn. So I just had to wait. The hotel agreed to put me up for an unspecified amount. I knew I’d be hit with an unrealistically high bill but I had a roof over my head for a few days, until my money got transferred, and it was a pretty good roof, a fairly decent hotel.

I did get out for a walk on my own in the early morning and explored the neighbourhood a bit. There were some guys making yoghurt out in the open street with milk from cows that were wandering around eating marigolds and cardboard from rubbish heaps. There was a guy with a dancing bear trying to get money from people. The kind of scene you see on those animal cruelty ads on TV – if you watch TV anymore. I got a photo of the first street I saw with a lady in a sari walking down it and a dog in the smoggy haze. Like today it’s a very polluted city. They need electric cars. Which I’m sure they’ll have by the next time I visit.

After the first night the hotel must have gotten nervous that maybe this hippy wouldn’t pay up. They kept a minder around for me to make sure I didn’t run off without paying. It was a bit awkward. The hotel took me around to a few highlights of New Delhi. I went to the Red Fort for a bit. There was a sad looking cobra in a little basket and a million people, cows, dogs, and perhaps even a donkey or camel. It was insane. The actual fort provided a little break from the craziness. I looked up and in one of those arched windows typical of Mughal architecture a woman was brushing her long silky hair oblivious to the throng of people and the noise down below.

A couple of young German guys arrived at the hotel and were staying in the room next to me.  I ended up buddying up with them a bit. I find the young Germans can be so enthusiastic and often bound with joy and energy – just like us young Australians (True Blue or otherwise – see previous post if you don’t get that bit).  One of the guys climbed over the balcony which was adjacent to mine and scared the shit out of me when he opened the glass door from the outside. I was ready to stab him with the Swiss Army knife I’d gotten from Corrine the year before, and which I always carried with me, which was even allowed on the planes in those days. He invited me out for some food. They wanted to go to some fancy place, but I still had very little money and had been going to the cheapest places I could find. I took them across the road, somehow slipping away from my minder and took them to a place that sold these vegetable patty things in soft white bread for about 4 rupees each – maybe 10 or 20 cents. I was really making sure the £20 or whatever I had left worth of rupees would last me until the money transfer arrived. I also had one traveller’s cheque left which was a small note, maybe another $20AUD. I don’t know what happened with the German guys, I think they were just there for a night.

The hotel guys kept taking me to the Western Union office to see if my transfer had come through. I didn’t tell them how much I’d asked for. When, on the morning of the third day the money still hadn’t arrived, they kicked me out of my room but said I could stay with the hotel staff workers. That was an interesting experience, they drove me around to an area of New Delhi I’d never have seen as a tourist, I suppose a typical local area. The workers all stayed in one room and we all had dhal and chapatis for dinner, sitting on the floor, just using our hands and the chapatis to scoop up the dhal. I was happy with that. There were about 4-5 hotel workers in the room. I think they didn’t just work at the hotel, they also worked for the hotel’s associated travel agency, but I wasn’t clear about that. I’d seen most of them over the last few days, often they’d be napping in the car they drove me around in, or napping on couches in the small travel agency office which they’d taken me to when they got sick of my money not arriving, to hang around. After dinner they rolled out some mats and the 5-6 of us slept on the floor taking up most of the space in the room. Years later my mum, son and daughter rented an AirBnB in Shinjuku, Tokyo which claimed to be able to sleep as many people in about the same space. Read more about the shonky Shinjuku  AirBnB and our trip to the snow monkeys.

Possibly on the morning of the 4th day when my minders took me to the Western Union office again my money had arrived! And I had my $200! I got some cash and the rest in traveller’s cheques I think. Well I must have ended up with a few more travellers checks – which would again pose a few problems over the next few days, but I’ll come to that.

With my $200 I could finally free myself from my minders. I went back to the travel agent and braced myself for the bill, knowing it would be a lot. The travel agent guy did some sums, adding up trips to the red fort, hotel accommodation etc, I’m pretty sure he was just Putin random numbers into a calculator that would add up to the sum he had in his head, and then he announced, “$200 USD”.

Having mentally prepared myself for this moment I unleashed a tirade of abuse: “You fucking scammers, there is no way that place is worth $200 USD, my father is a diplomat (posing as a semi-retired carpenter driving taxis on the Gold Coast) and you’ll be in big trouble.” I was playing a role I’d rehearsed in my head for days, make as much noise and fuss as possible and keep whatever money I needed to survive the rest of my Indian leg at least. “I don’t have that fucking money, I only have $100 AUD and that is all I will pay which is still probably double what I actually owe you scammers” and blah, blah, blah. I felt kinda bad as I’m not usually like that but I needed to look after myself. The lower level workers who’d shared a floor with last night just gathered around, interested in the entertainment on an Aussie going ballistic.

“Enough with your fuckings this and fuckings that, you are being a very rude person”, said the travel agent guy and he took the $100 AUD, form his lack of protest I could tell I was being well and truly fleeced even at that price, but less fleeced that I would have been so I was ok with that. After the exchange was done and the yelling died down I said, “sorry, I’m just tired and want to get out of here”. He just looked at me. But it wasn’t quite done. I still didn’t have my luggage. The boss guy sent a worker off to get it. I don’t know where it was but it seemed to take a long time to get it. I was starving so I asked if there was any food around. The boss guy signalled to one of the workers to go get me something. He came back with some dhal in a clay pot. I gave him about 5-10 rupees. I was starving so I just ate the dhal with my fingers. The boss guy looked at me and said, “without chapati, what a waste”.

It was an awkward wait around with the travel agency guys. They kept giving me dirty looks because of all my swearing and carrying on. It was worth it to have $100 in my pocket. When the bag arrived I headed straight to Connaught Place to find a cheap backpackers to stay. There weren’t any Muslim/ Hindu problems. At least none that made it unsafe at the moment.