Enthralling Delhi

When I told people that we were going to India for holiday, they didn’t seem very convinced. They will talk about the crowd, the smell, that you should not eat their street food, that you should be very careful, that they are really poor and all the things that I have read about this country. To be honest, India was not on the top list of my must visit countries but Azlani suggested it and so I thought okay why not?

I immediately got curious about India. What if it’s not as bad as people thought? What if it’s actually really nice? Plus the weather is going the be cool so it shouldn’t be so bad?

We landed at Delhi Airport and thought wow it’s feel is almost like Changi, Singapore Airport (my favourite airport ever). It’s huge and very organised. And no there’s no smell. What smell?

The next day we took an express train to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Frankly, we didn’t have a proper itinerary and all we wanted to do in Agra was to see the Taj Mahal. We didn’t know what to expect at all.

We arrived in Agra and took the ‘Auto’ they call their small taxi – my favourite ride in Delhi, and the driver charged us INR 600 for a full day trip in Agra.

Along the roads to each places, you’ll see really poor people living under tents, houses with walls made of boxes. It was really sad to see.

We then spent the rest of our days exploring Delhi. Again, we didn’t really have a clue of where to go, or eat so we just googled and read blogs of people who have been there. That helped a lot. Later in this post I will help you too in case you too are like me 🙂

I think during winter is the best time to visit India. The weather is cool but dry. You don’t sweat and it doesn’t rain at all.

In Delhi we walked a lot and when I’m annoyed with the crowd or when my legs were tired, we took the rickshaw or the auto.

You can find all kinds of vehicles on the streets of Delhi. Cars, busses, rickshaws, cows, bulls, horses, bikes. It’s amazing. Even horses queued in traffic!

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, here are a few tips if you are planning to visit Delhi.

Normally when people visit Delhi, they will visit the ‘golden triangle’ – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. But we only went to Delhi and Agra because Jaipur is a bit further from Delhi compared to Agra and we only had five nights.

Getting to Agra from Delhi

We took the express train called Gaitmaan Express from Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station in Delhi to Agra Cantonment railway station. It was the fastest train – only 1hr 40 mins to Agra. There are other train options but they take up to 3 to4 hours to get to Agra.

Train tickets you can get online from cleartrip.com but it’s a bit tricky because you have to create an account at IRCTC and you must have a local mobile phone number for that. Because they will send verification codes to your email and your phone. I was lucky because my ex Indian housemate helped me with that.

Getting Around In Agra

When you arrived at the train station in Agra, there will be taxi drivers waiting to offer you a tour. Half day, full day you can choose. Unless you have booked a private driver earlier then you don’t need them. But it was convenient for us to get the taxi tour.

Places to Visit in Agra

  • Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah (Baby Taj)
  • Mehtab Bahg (you can view the back of Taj Mahal from here)
  • Agra Fort
  • Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Truly majestic. The taxi driver advised that we should visit Taj Mahal later in the day because it will look even more amazing with the sunlight being the perfect lighting to view the building. We had a ball taking photos of it and ourselves, of course. Excuse us, it’s our first wonder of the world.

What to expect?

INR 1,000 fees to enter the gate for foreigners. Only INR 40 for local though but they had to queue to get in and the queue is so long.

Due to the crowd it was difficult to get a decent photo and a full view of the Taj Mahal but we tried…

Where to go in Delhi?

  • Lodhi Garden
  • Jama Mosque
  • India Gate
  • Old Delhi
  • Hauz Khas
  • Connaught Place
  • Spice Market
  • Select CityWalk Mall


Food

Karim’s at Old Delhi, near Jama Mosque

Try not to go during lunch because it WILL be super packed. Try the mutton stew, butter chicken – they were really good!

If you are feeling more adventurous (not because it’s dangerous), but it’s unique – try the Kulle Chaat which you can find at Chawri Bazaar. It’s quite hidden along the road so use the instruction from this blog – https://migrationology.com/kulle-fruit-chaat/ to get there.

I didn’t try it but my husband it. He liked it.

Getting around in Delhi is easy. There’s Uber which we took to get to far places (very rarely). Our main transport when we were there was the metro which was comfortable for me because I rode on the women’s coach which was never packed. Men’s coach however…can be super packed. It’s either there are more men in India or women there prefer to stay at home…?

So did I feel unsafe there? Not really.

Street food? We tried twice and it was good, nothing happened. Maybe we were lucky.

Dirty? The weather was dry so yeah it was quite dusty. You’ll notice all the dust on your shoes. Also people spit for fun there…

One more thing. ALWAYS NEGOTIATE when in Delhi. Except for restaurant food and if you shop at the mall of course. But everything else, try to negotiate because they will try to rip you off. People there try to earn in any way they can.

Overall it was an amazing trip. I’ve never seen any city like Delhi before. It’s almost like Jakarta but more interesting.

My favourite photo of my husband from our trip to New Delhi, India. It was taken at Jama Mosque at the Old Delhi.
The best photo of me taken by my husband. Also at Jama Mosque

 

Safiq Rahim Speaks English

Earlier this month we took a trip to Johor to interview four Johor Darul Ta’zim players – Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan, S.Kunanlan and Amirulhadi. Since we are an English football website, it it preferable if we could interview the players in English. Especially when my Australian Managing Editor will be interviewing them – Safiq and Aidil. But in my experience, Malaysian players are normally more comfortable to speak in Bahasa Malaysia (BM) so we gave them the option – to answer in BM if they want to. We can always insert subtitles anyway.

We didn’t expect them to be fluent. As long as it’s understandable, it’s good enough for us. It’s their answers that matter not the language they speak.

I didn’t interview Safiq, my Editor did. I spoke to Kunanlan and Amirulhadi instead. To my surprise, well not completely, Safiq chose to speak in English. This is great improvement! Four years ago when he was a guest on Astro SuperSport’s Football Overload, he’d only speak in BM. He has surely matured since then and his confidence has improved too.

He knew his English is not perfect and he knew the video is going on the internet, but he would still try. Try is good. Maybe you think what’s the big deal? It is kind of a big deal because trust me it is not easy to find a Malaysian player, Malay player especially, who would speak English for a TV interview.

As expected there were some people who made fun of his English and some said it was a good effort. But what’s weird is that someone commented about his Malay accent. Is he supposed to sound American or British when he’s a Malay?

Interview with JDT for FourFourTwo
Briefing Yol and Kuna

I have realised that Malaysian players need media training since I first started working. It is one of the departments that needs improvement. The players represent the club and it is the clubs’ responsibility to make sure their players are properly informed on why it’s important they behave or do not behave a certain way in public or say or don’t say that in interviews. It sounds like a lot of work but it needs to be done. Most clubs disregard the need of it. So they first must realise that it’s important and realise that it will help them in a long term.

Anyway, only Safiq and Kunanlan spoke in English in this interview. Aidil and Amirulhadi did in BM instead. The videos will be released soon. Stay tuned to find out what are the games that changed their lives, what they thought about their teammates and more!

p/s: If we came a day after the interview, we would have filmed Safiq with his blond hair!

Young Lions Experience

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Besides writing for the S.League website, one of my jobs when I moved to Singapore was to write for the Garena Young Lions who are playing in the S.League. Technically they are the U21 Singapore National Team, just like the now debunked Harimau Muda (Young Tigers) in Malaysia. Mostly I had to update their website with match previews, reports and reactions.

I don’t work for the team directly, as in I’m not their in-house writer or media officer, but writing for them meant I must feel that I am part of the team. Whatever I published must be positive and always on their side. Which make sense because you can’t have ‘Young Lions were rubbish in that game’ written on their own website, can you?

The problem is I am not part of the team and not even part of the Singapore FA. So how do you keep being on their side? You can’t even be neutral when you’re reporting about them. That’s not the case. You must make them look good. Always.

If someone is a stranger to you, where you have no slightest emotion towards them, how can you bring yourself to write something nice about them? It is hard to pretend that you care even if you try sometimes.

That’s not the worst part yet. The most challenging thing for me would be having to write positively, encouragingly, supportively about a team who’s rooted at the bottom of the table with only one win in ten games so far. Since I started writing for them, I have never seen them won a game. I was not writing for them yet when they won their first and only game.

When they tasked me to write for the Young Lions, I knew this team is going to give me a tough time throughout the season. The S.League has been very competitive this season and Young Lions being young and very inexperienced, there’s no surprise they are bottom of the league.Them struggling to win means I need to figure out a way to help me with the writings.

This team obviously needs support. I’m not going to touch on whether the program even benefits Singapore football. That’s another long story. They don’t even have that many fans so the least I can do was try to find something good from every loss. If it’s hard for me to be encouraging in my writings about them, it must be harder for them to lose every week.

The only way for me to keep being on the team’s side when I’m writing for them is to get closer to the team. A few years back, I used to write a lot about Harimau Muda A. I wasn’t writing for them but I was always on their side and it didn’t need much effort. It happened naturally because I was close with the team since they first started playing in the S.League.

I knew every player, every coach and backroom staff of the team to a point where I did feel I was part of the team. They were very close to my heart so to be on their side even after every loss, every bad performance was not difficult. In fact I got annoyed when I read negative reports or stories about them even if they were true.

And I thought that’s exactly what I had to do with the Young Lions. I started with covering their trainings and games more than the other games or teams. I needed to get closer to the team, get to know the coaches, the players. They can’t see me like the other writers. They need to know I’m on their side. This helped a lot with my writings.

Normally, you are on someone’s side because you care about them. You need to feel for them and naturally you will be supportive of them.

But of course, even if I was on their side, my writings will still have to make sense. I can’t say they did well when they lost 5-0. That’s just deluded. But perhaps I can say that it was a good experience for the boys and it’s important for them to keep working hard to improve, something like that.

Well unfortunately I won’t be writing for them anymore. Due to some changes that’s beyond my control, the Singapore FA will have to find someone else to write for them now. But I hope whoever that takes over can take this as an advice which I strongly believe will very much help them with their writings.