I was recently in India in early december for a friend's wedding in ahmedabad, but I was able to travel to delhi/agra/jaipur afterwards as part of a golden tour. Here are some of my experiences:
1. Air quality - Very poor in delhi and agra. When my friends and I arrived in Delhi airport, the first thing we could smell was a burning smell. The only place that the air smelled less congested was in the Gandhi Memorial gardens (likely because no cars nearby). In agra, our hotel lobby was acutally filled with smoke as the doors to the street kept closing and opening, the air became less smoky on higher floors. None of us have respiratory issues normally, but at the end of our trip, we all were coming down with respiratory infections and coughing/sneezing black colored discharge. I am a doctor so I brought antibiotics and claritin for all my friends, but it was only when we were in jaipur and the air was a little cleaner that they felt more comfortable. My friend and i are well travelled, and between us, we have been in sao paulo, cairo, beijing and manila and we all agreed the air quality here was the worst we experienced.
2. We stayed in 3 star hotels and for the most party, we were happy with our accomodations. We booked namaste tour and their choice of hotels and our driver were all excellent. Some of the tour guides that we got in certain cities pushed us to certain stores (agra, jaipur) that obviously they got commission. I didn't mind so much, excpet that in jaipur, I specifically asked the tour guide to help the driver to find anokhi textile museum since I really wanted to see it and get a change to buy some of their products and he feigned ignorance. I showed him my written address and also directions I got from their anokhi's website and initially he tried to get us to go to a good place he thought was better, and only after I put my foot down and started getting angry that he asked local people to help him find the place. THis was the only blemish on what was a good tour package on namaste tours.
3. Prepaid taxi in Delhi International airport. I followed instructions on paying on the certified taxi booth and then handing the slip outside (turning right on exit). they gave my friends and I two cab numbers. I read on indiamike.com that I should keep the receipt slip until I arrived at my location (In case the driver doesn't take you to where you want), but my driver was extremely rude and angry and kept trying to get the receipt back. I was in the taxi with 2 other women and they were all taken aback by his behavior. We did get lost on the way to the B+B we booked, and I even printed out directions given by the B+B. The other taxi which my other three friends took also got lost on the way as well, and it took them even longer to get there. So just as a warning, your cab drivers even on certified prepaid taxis may not know where they are going.
4. Begging children/people selling touts - we saw it everywhere we went except much less in in new delhi. Especially on amber fort in jaipur, as we descended down the fort walking to the parking area, my friends and I were mobbed all the way down. In any of the sites, if any of us gave in and bought a trinket, then we had a whole mob of them, so it just affirmed to me to stop buying from even the little kids. And when one of us did give a begging child money outside the hotel, when we tried to walk further down, we had a whole group surrounding us then. Basically, to walk outside from one of the monuments or hotels to our taxi was an experience in itself and although I am an experienced traveler (I was born in brazil and have travelled in central america as well as to korea), this was a total new experience to me. It made my overall experience of india not very enjoyable. I am looking at donating at NGO sites in india to get this children out of the street (either begging or selling trinkets) and into schools. I saw previous forums that recommend walkingtall.com and akanksha.org. Even though I loved visiing the taj, fatepur shikri and amber/agra fort, etc, I couldn't enjoy just simploy walking outside and just people watching.
5. Police - although I heard from previous posts that if you have a problem, you should go to them, I would like to give an anedocte we experienced in our tour that makes me wary of them. When we were driving in jaipur, my car was stopped by traffic police, when they demanded that my driver wasn't wearing a seatbelt. He in fact was wearing one, and all my six friends and I can attest to that. He kept telling them that he was wearing one and we in the car we all saying the same thing to them. the police made my driver get out and walk down the street with two of them, and after a long time. he came back to the car to pay them 150 ruppes of his own money. The driver said that they actually wanted 600 ruppees and he kept saying he didn't have that much, until they finally came down to 150. Naturally, we paid him back later, since we didn't want him paying that out of his own pocket. One of my friends in the car has family in mumbai and when he visited them last time, the same problem happened with one of his uncles. When his mother got involved trying to help the uncle, their fee was raised even higher. So he told us to just keep quiet and stay in the car and not get involved. I guess this level of corruption goes on everyday. I was born in brazil, so I know one thing or two about corruption, but at least the police stopped when you were doing something wrong, and then you paid them off so as not to get a ticket. Here, we got fined for not doing anything at all.