Wherever westerners pause, gangs of angel-faced children, armed with useless trinkets and multilingual command of the stock phrases crucial to a street seller's trade, are ready for them, Fagin figures lurking in the background to collect the proceeds.
Delhi belly, the guide book warns, is almost inevitable. The hassling will worsen when we reach the Ganges.
Not, you may think, a promising holiday snapshot.
But India also has defiance and gaiety, resourcefulness and pride. Genuine happiness is taken from small acts of kindness. Beyond the upset stomachs and scenes of abject deprivation, people are struggling hard to make life bearable.
Then there are the extremes of wealth. India's billionaires, we learn, would wipe out the national deficit by accepting the minor flesh wound of a 10 per cent levy. No orderly queue has yet formed.
And the middle class is booming, as witnessed by the start of wedding seasons, when beautiful brides in impossibly glamorous robes can be seen waiting in hotel lobbies to be whisked to lavish open-air banquets. On a single day last year in New Delhi, there were 32,000 weddings.
More of all this in due course. Salut! has ridden in rickshaws, done its pathetic bit for humanity and seen the splendour of the Taj Mahal, the Amber fort and Sikh temples. But the trip still has a week or more to go.
Calcutta may be rioting, the south enmeshed in political turmoil. But because, even more so than despite, India is a good place to be.
Or at least it seemed so until bombs went off, killing several, at the court building at our next stop, Varanasi. Perhaps it is just as well we were not planning an in depth look at the workings of Indian justice while visiting Uttar Pradesh.