29 May First two days in Delhi – Tammy
Words cannot even begin to describe what it has been like in New Delhi thus far. It is an experience unlike any other that I have had before, and, truthfully, there were times I thought I could die. I quote a message I just wrote to my friend, who was giving me tips before I came here:
“The heat is killer. [Absolute] killer. I do not take my statement lightly. I find myself trying to walk around the stray dogs and humans lying around the ground in the most random of places, and rickshaws, motorcycles, plus autos skidding past me in all directions. I feel like my toes are going to get squished or I am going to get caught in between 2 cars.”
The airport and the airport express are a little deceiving (apparently the express train is privately owned and is only about a year old), but once you get off at the central Delhi station, you enter into a world of chaos, madmen, putrid smells, dust, heat, etc. You do not want to be caught off guard at any moment, because even if you try not to be, you will. At any point, it is inevitable.
The taxi drivers, rickshaw drivers, auto drivers, etc all seem to mind their own business (from afar), but the moment you start walking towards them or past them, there is no option but to constantly say “nei” (no) or “buus” (enough!). Better yet, save your energy and keep walking. You are not being rude by ignoring them. This is the Indian culture.
While walking from destination A to B, be prepared to continue being heckled along the way. I’d say this is one of the most distinct features of Indian culture (at least in New Delhi so far.) Crossing a major road, where there are absolutely no lanes or rules (in most places), be hyper aware. I don’t know how the locals do it – or maybe it’s because I am a foreigner and they are much more prone to target me – but simply standing on the street in India feels like a risk. There are people, cars, vendors, stray animals, garbage, loose ground, etc. everywhere.
If I had to summarize my first day, that would probably be my impressions for sure. (Everything written before this sentence was composed on the evening of my first day. My posts will often be drafts, but I’ll try to type and post in a timely fashion, moving forward. Internet time is limited.)
Other activities that day included:
Getting a mobile sim card for ~$11 CDN. I have free incoming calls, (free) roaming (testing this feature today, May 17), $0.10 CDN international text messages, etc. I paid 540 rupees for about 440 rupees worth. Getting the card itself was RIDICULOUS. I needed a passport sized photo, my passport, etc. The fees are also ridiculous…
Passport sized photos: 40rupees for 8. They took it in some sketchy shop and used Adobe to change it all up. Epic.
Eating a “Thali” (Set meal) Finally got my parantha and aloo parantha.
Today is Thursday, and we’re heading to Patiala. Our entire group is here now, so that’s awesome!! Yesterday, we spent our first full day in New Delhi. We went to Aakdarshan, a temple to commemorate Swamiarayan Aakdarshan, and it was an intense security procedure to get in. We had to check in EVERYTHING and I was sent back 2x. No joke. First time, for my camera and a whistle, and the second time for a tiny USB they found. By that time, I was not going to stand in that line, so I got down all their names and told the security check lady to speak with the security guard to let me cut the lines. That’s right, Anil Sharma, you let me in! I’m learning the “Indian way.”
We tried more interesting foods while there and I learned a ton about the different Indian Gods. Afterwards, we headed to Race Course metro station, which I presume is where the upper class lives. All the homes had huge gates and security guards. I even saw the home of the Consulate General of Monaco. We were on our way to Smriti Gandhi… the home where Gandhi spent his last 144 days and the garden area where he was assassinated. Standing the exact same room he slept in and ate sent shivers up my spine. It was a feeling unlike any other. Seeing his famous pair of iconic glasses completely awed me.
To those who know me well, I used to quote Gandhi very often. (Usually the same few quotes – haha!) It was just such an insane experience.
Nevertheless, I’ve got to run. I went to some bar last night and for 650mL of Carlberg, it was 160rupees. Not bad! Black Lable (not to be confused with Black Label) is their local beer, and is 80 rupees for the same size. I washed my clothes before I slept and let them dry. Other than that, my roommate and I changed our rooms because our AC wasn’t working. Our new room smelled of urine…but I’m not asking for much.
One more thing, I met a really good local guy at the hotel the other day. He’s was reading my blog, as I was drafting the early part of this post. (Hi, Rahul Gupta!) He was in New Delhi for a meeting and his bro, who just graduated from high school, was there to submit his papers for med school. Their family owns a hotel that has some partnership with The Smyle Inn Hotel (my hotel), so he was staying here. Rahul also added me on Facebook. Usually, I don’t just add randoms, but I think our conversations were well enough that I trust my ability to read people. He’s a student, 21-years old, who works as a part time broker and is working towards his CA. Eventually, he wants to work for ORACLE in Hong Kong. (That’s his dream. He’s already got an uncle working as a director there, so he just needs to pass that CA!!) He just graduated from a university in Agra and has 2 years before he writes his exam. (2 out of 100 people pass this exam, but the results of it are grande. Expect a pay of about $70-80k USD, apparently.) Rahul, don’t be afraid and go study!! Nevertheless, he gave me his number, so I might contact him when I reach Agra and he can show my friends and I around.
Word count now at 1000. That’s 2 days for ya! Talk soon and please continue to keep me in your prayers.