(Delhi airport. Photo from : http://www.newdelhiairport.in)
I am just back from a quick business trip to Delhi which coincided with the coldest week in Delhi in 28 years. Not good news – but as luck would have it, the first day there turned out to be very cold but very sunny, which is a lovely combination. So, escaped unhurt.
For old times sake (and because they have a bloody early morning flight from Bangalore), I flew Indian Airlines, which has now been determinedly renamed Air India. Unfortunate. Because in the process, Indian Airlines, which I have always had a soft corner for, is really starting to resemble Air India, which according to me is unquestionably among the the 10 worst airlines in the world. So, here is an emotional requiem to Indian Airlines; RIP.
Among the obscene prices for hotels rooms in Delhi, I was able to wangle a slightly less indecent price (fairly crazy nevertheless) from the The Taj Palace hotel by booking a no-cancellation room, way ahead of time on the Taj Hotels website. It is always nice to stay at the Taj, because somewhere they have perfected the art of clean & efficient luxury service without the ‘looking-you-over’ approach of some Indian luxury chains, not the least of which is the Oberoi. Having said that, the Taj Palace ‘upgraded’ me to a suite and on checkout presented me with a bigger bill. Not professional at all and was immediately reversed of course. But did not seem right. And then I saw a review of the hotel on HolidayIQ and another person seemed to have had the same experience. Fishy.
Now on to Delhi International Airport. If Air India is among the 10 worst airlines in the world, Delhi airport now has simply no competition. I am sure it is the worst one in the world. Poor GMR. How will they ever get the amazing sloth of the Delhi airport to change? I do not think it is going to be easy at all. Of course, I was in the Indian Airlines terminal and they haven’t as yet got to changing things there. So maybe it will change eventually. But the sloth is reflected even in the private concessionnaires there. ITC hotels runs a restaurant in the Indian Airlines terminal at Delhi airport. Has to be the most awful airport restaurant in the world. On the whole, avoid Delhi airport if you can. Since you probably cannot avoid it, try to switch off all your senses while you pass through.
But this was all worth it. Because, I was able to hit Fujiya the most hallowed institution in New Delhi. Roast Pork or Sukiyaki in Fujiya is the rite of passage that makes men out of even the most unpromising material. And since I had my initiation many years ago, I returned for the nostalgia. And of course for the uncompromising roast pork. Had a massive meal and met all the old gang from the maitre d’ downwards. Mohit claimed it was a religious experience. I just hogged.