What are your favorite restaurants in Delhi

Travel-Talk Delhi: Interview & insider tips for Delhi by Savita Rai from "Women on Wheels"

Traditional gender roles in India do not make it easy for women when it comes to access to education and a job. "Women on Wheels" is an initiative that enables disadvantaged women to receive vocational training and future prospects: Young women are trained to become airport drivers. Savita Rai is one of them. She drives female tourists through the city in a “Women on Wheels” taxi. 12 questions, 12 answers - and loads of insider tips for Delhi.

Interview & insider tips for Delhi ♥ Reading time: 5 minutes

If you like the character of the Delhi people would have to describe in one sentence: What would you say?

Delhites are good people, but like all cities, you need to know who to trust as there are still some scammers out there!

What's the best thing about being in Delhi to live?

There are so many historical landmarks and places to visit in Delhi. It is said that Delhi is made up of seven individual cities that have been built and fallen over the past 1,000 years. Every city has its own history and monuments. You can find them everywhere: in parks, in local neighborhoods, and in the middle of roundabouts.

Do you have a favorite place away from the tourist crowds?

It's not really off the beaten path, but I have to name my favorite: Humayun's Tomb! Everyone is talking about the Taj Mahal in Agra, while Humayun's tomb is rarely mentioned and forgotten. The grave is great and here in my town. It was built before the Taj and is India's first garden tomb and the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. It's such a beautiful, peaceful place.

Your favorite shops in Delhi?

Lajpat Nagar Central Market. This huge, busy market has everything I need. From clothing to relaxation to wedding outfits. The prices are low - if you bargain hard. (laughs) And there are so many juttis (a traditional type of embroidered shoe) to choose from.

Your favorite restaurant in Delhi?

"Haldiram", a restaurant chain with many branches in Delhi. There is a wide variety of fantastic dishes to choose from. From dosa (a kind of pancake) and idli (steamed, flat-round cakes) from the southern Indian states to the spicy curries of the northern states to a variety of chat (a kind of Indian snack)! The shelves are filled with candy that we especially love during the festivals. And in summer I like the air conditioning almost as much as I like the food! (laughs)

The best local specialty that has to be tasted - and where?

Chole Bhature beats everything! It's a Punjabi chickpea dish made with warm spices like cumin, coriander, clove, and chilli. We eat it for breakfast, for a mid-morning, midday, afternoon, and early evening snack. But never at night! Bhature is a deep-fried bread made from flour, yogurt and a little sugar. The best place to get it is my local dhaba (an Indian street stall) in Madhu Vihar. The guy who runs it is a wizard when it comes to doing bhature.

Describe a normal working day at “Women on Wheels”.

My day starts with coffee and preparation for my shift. Most North Indians drink chai, but I am a coffee lover. My mom runs around doing housework for the family. She makes my breakfast and my packed lunch. Then I start showing women around town wherever they want. I love to drive and see the city. After my shift, I return home to help my mother with household chores.

When did you get your driver's license?

It was only the third time that I was lucky. I passed 2015 after failing twice. I was upset when I failed, but I was determined to succeed. I kept practicing. Now I am sharing my experiences with others to help them.

There are almost only men on the streets of Delhi. How does it feel to sit behind the wheel as a woman and drive for “Woman on Wheels”?

There are many more men who drive. Female taxi drivers are still a rare sight. I used to hear a lot of comments from male drivers on the way; today it is less. I don't know if that's because I'm not responding anymore or because men are realizing that it is a woman's right to be on the go.

Your funniest experience on “Woman on Wheels”?

Oh, I don't know - there is always something going on on the streets of Delhi! Foreign tourists are always fascinated by the roaming cows, the monkeys on the roadside and horses that bring one or the other groom to the wedding. Passengers hang on rickshaws and four of them ride motorcycles. Foreign passengers cannot believe what they are seeing. This is what makes the first mile of your journey so special.

You like to take women around Delhi in a taxi because ...

We share our lives, stories and experiences with one another. Women who ride with me want to understand what the life of an Indian, especially a woman in India, is like and what driving a taxi in the city is like when almost every other driver is a man. I'm also learning English so it's great to practice with overseas passengers. Many correct me when I make mistakes and help me find the right words. I also like to hear things about their country and life because it is different from what I know.

Something that you absolutely mustn't do while in Delhi?

Don't be naive of con artists! Unfortunately, many of these scammers are taxi and rickshaw drivers. Some overload their rickshaws, others take them to a store where they get a high commission from the owner. If someone offers to take you to a “big” store for a small fee, please ask why.

To person

Savita Rai (24) lives in New Delhi and works as a driver for "Women on Wheels" (from approx. INR 500, approx. € 6.20), an initiative that enables disadvantaged women to receive vocational training.

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