16th November 2010 – 337 miles
We were worried that the border crossing would be “out of the frying pan and into the fire!” but this was far from the truth, or at least in part.
Passing through Pakistan border control was merely a formality as was immigration on the Indian (Atari) side. We were however slightly delayed at Indian customs.
Although the officers were most welcoming, there did not seem to be any sense of urgency.
We almost came a cropper when one of the customs officials asked us to point out the engine number [which none of us (including himself) could find] and to open up our storage containers (containing serviceable parts for the car) on the roof. No one else had asked us for this!?
However, following a cup of tea with them, the (assisted) purchase of a bottle of whisky on behalf of one of the officers and payment of a customary baksheesh (or “tip”), we were allowed to proceed.
En route to Delhi, we took a slight detour to visit Amritsar – the home of Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the spectacular Golden Temple. From the crush of the people-packed old city combined with the mechanical traffic, the gold-plated gurdwara glittered in the middle of its holy pool and was a welcome break from the frenetic city.
Nasir has had an upset stomach since D G Khan and so we played it safe for lunch with a Dominos Pizza. As it happens, the vegetable supreme with spicy paneer was quite nice!
Then onwards to Delhi – the worst roads that we had encountered throughout the trip [i’m not including the road between Loralai to D G Khan as this could not be described as a road!]. And to make things worse, the trucks drive at a snail’s pace in the fast lane and refuse to pull over so we constantly ended up undertaking them.
As a consequence, we reached the sprawling metropolis of Delhi at 1am and spent the next two hours driving around to find a hotel that was not fully occupied.
The upside of this is that we managed to see most of the city, including the Commonwealth Games village, without encountering any traffic. The downside was that our vehicle stuck out like a sore thumb and we were stopped a couple of times at police checkpoints in a (failed) attempt to extort money out of us.