New Delhi/INDIA Diary by Lorna Woodroffe -
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2003, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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New Delhi/INDIA Diary by Lorna Woodroffe

Found this text by Lorna Woodroffe on

New Delhi/INDIA Diary by Lorna Woodroffe
On tour: Lorna Woodroffe, Anne Keothavong, Helen Crook, Victoria Davies, Annabel Blow
Event: $25,000 New Delhi/INDIA

I must've changed my mind about 20 times before finally settling on going to the challenger in India. I'd been playing a WTA Event in Dubai where we were being looked after so well that the thought of travelling to an ITF tournament in Delhi was less than appealing.

I found out that there were 4 other Brits going to be there ( Helen Crook, Victoria Davies, Anne Keothavong and Annabel Blow) and that a decent hotel had been organised so I decided that it wouldn't be too bad. I knew what to expect having been twice before and from the moment I stepped off of the plane all the memories of past years came back to me. The Aromas, atmosphere and feeling of Delhi are certainly distinctive.

The taxi to the hotel was a far cry from the Jaguar which had driven me to the airport in Dubai. Now I sat in a dirty little car which had a top speed of 60km/h and it seemed lucky that it made it all the way to the hotel. During the drive I saw very little change from past visits to the country, everything was still old and dirty, and the air still heavily polluted from all the car fumes. The roads were full of potholes which the driver seemed very skilled at avoiding, as well as the other cars and the out of context cows! The cows are a sacred animal in India and are allowed to roam wherever they please and it seems they like the roads! Other animals we were to see later in the week along the roads included monkeys, elephants and camels.

Safely at the (five star) hotel the first thing I wanted to do was to have a shower as just going outside made you feel dirty. After a short nap (I'd had no sleep as I'd been travelling through the night) I met the other girls for some lunch. We were all very aware about what we chose to eat for fear of getting the dreaded "Delhi Belly" and consumed pretty bland meals in order to keep the doctor away.

Once you are there, India is amazingly cheap. The cost of a taxi to the club 15 minutes away cost just 2 including tip and that is the westerner prices. Locals would've paid around 40 pence! Restrings were 1.50 and a bottle of water cost around 10 pence.

The taxi rides were never dull and I don't think we ever got used to the honking of horns every few seconds as well as no apparent road regulations. They don't believe in staying in lanes either and we all found the best thing to do was to just not look at the road. More fun than the taxis though were the rikshaws that we went in. I don't know why but they were nicknamed "foot foots" by someone so that name stuck for the week. If I remember correctly, rickshaws were made famous by a James Bond movie and VJ Armitraj. It is basically a 3 wheeled motorbike with seats for 2 in the back. We did manage to get 4 of us in one for one ride and it was a hair raising experience. Worse than that though, Anne and I crashed into Helen and Vic’s rickshaw just when we had commented how amazing it was they we never bumped into anything! Luckily we weren't going too fast so no damage was done.

The club hosting the tournament was the Indian equivalent to the LTA Cellnet centre at Queens Club and as you can imagine, the facilities were slightly different. They had 12 hard courts which had been resurfaced since my last visit and a new swimming pool had just been built although no one was adventurous enough to try it out. Helen’s achievement of the week was never going to the loo at the club! With no toilet paper and shall we say no hygiene, we all avoided having to use the toilets as much as possible. Not surprisingly, there weren't too many toilet breaks during the matches, I can’t think why!

After the first day we were all better equipped with our own supply of loo roll but this didn't help us much on the match courts. I was the only one to make it past the first round with a close 6-4 in the third set victory and Anne and Helen both lost in three close sets. I fell at the next hurdle and so tennis wise the trip was not looking good at all.

We all managed to feel grateful however as we experienced the way some of the natives had to live. On our taxi journeys we would get little kids coming up to the window begging and it was horrible to see. Money given to them would have only been taken off of them so we tried to give them food instead and even then the kids ran off straight away to stop the older beggars snatching it off them. There were so many people everywhere and lots of tents and shacks by the side of the road where they would live.

You can always pick up a few bargains in India especially when shopping for Pashminas. Last time I was there, they were pretty big everywhere and even though they are perhaps not so in fashion now, I think all of us were in the market for one. Hotel lobby shopping was also a good way to kill time and we soon learned there was fierce competition for our business. However, we didn’t take kindly to being hoarded into the shop and the door shut behind us! Playing tennis can be such and education as we now all know all there is to know about the different pashmina qualities and between us we left with five of them.

We took advantage of our early tournament exits and took time to see more of the country and planned a trip to the Taj Mahal. We opted for the luxury tour at a few dollars extra but it wasn't quite as luxurious as the brochure made out. The trip took 4 hours to get there and whenever we got off of the bus to go and see something with our guide we were immediately pounced on by the locals trying to sell us things. They didn't seem to understand the word no so you just had to keep walking. This happened in Delhi also, when we went to visit the India Gate which was a monument built for the men lost in the war. We were expecting there to be more tourists there but we were the only ones and we got a taste of what it would be like to be famous and to get mobbed as people were again trying to sell us all kinds of things and they even wanted photos taken with us. I took a picture of 2 monkeys and then was chased by the guy until I gave him some money. We were glad that the taxi had waited for us and we dived back into safety.

Flustered from our travels, we were ready to go home, but it was a nightmare trying to get on a flight all the flights were full. This was true for all airlines as all the European players were going to the airport every night only to return unsuccessful. The night Helen and Vic got on, Anne and I tried to go to standby. I was flying Emirates however and was not even allowed in the airport until finally I got to speak to the airport manager. I never made it onto the flight though nor did Anne so after being there for 4 hours we went back to the hotel and tried again the next day. Luckily this time it worked.

Considering the tennis turned out to be uninspiring, we did have a few laughs with everything and visiting India is always an experience and although I wouldn't rush to go back there, there are definitely worse places a player could go.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old Mar 14th, 2003, 10:49 PM
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Thanks for posting the journal

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page."

~ St. Augustine
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