We arrive in India’s capital after a sleepless flight, and get straight into an Ambassador taxi, which takes us briefly along a four-lane highway before turning off onto unsealed roads that resemble a ploughed field after the rains. We cut among cycle rickshaws and autos, past chai sellers and samosa stalls till we stop, heave our bags onto our backs and step over a large cow to enter our hotel. Yes, we’re back in Delhi.
It’s raining the hot sticky rain of a dirty tropical city and we’re soon filthy. The air is grey and full of vehicle fumes and humidity coats our skin like greasy secretions on a teenager’s face. But there are smiles and colours everywhere, and the smell of chapati and frying pakoras beckons us out – and besides, a two-hour-long power cut means we can’t see a thing in our windowless cell of a room.
We’re just overnighting here – tomorrow we fly north to the Himalayas.