Nothing can prepare you for Delhi’s traffic – and, having seen it, I can’t imagine the culture shock of arriving at Indira Gandhi International Airport, renting a Maruti or Tata and actually mixing it with the dusty, noisy, honking mass of traffic outside.
Thankfully, I didn’t actually have to do that. Such is the enterprising spirit of this place that you can pay a local to drive you around for about a fiver a day and I spent my whole time there in the back of a minibus, observing the pandemonium outside my window.
This is a city of 15 million people, twice as many vehicles (if you count everything with wheels), and where I’m told that you can ‘buy’ a driver’s licence from the right local government bloke for a couple of hundred rupees and a passport photo.
As for the roads: imagine a badly potholed city street, raise the temperature to a steady 35 degrees (in late October), fill the air with dust and smog so thick that buildings disappear beyond about 150 yards. They tell me the air’s got much cleaner since they converted the city’s taxis to run on compressed natural gas; it couldn’t have got much worse.