17 January 2016

Surprise! Delhi time

So I accidentally Delhied. Is this bad?
Hey, it's me again. So, last night didn't go quite according to plan. After "waking up" shivering from sheer cold from the concrete floor, ordering another ridiculously expensice toast, a lemon tea and a chocolate cookie from Costa Coffee around 4 am I found a message from our yoga teacher Marijana. The plane from Berlin to Istanbul had been delayed and they would be arriving in Delhi 24 hours later than planned. Somehow I've already gotten used to these surprises and took the news in stride with the bleary and fuzzy sleep deprived brain. I really had no interest in hanging out at the airport a minute longer, and after abandoning the idea of splurging into a luxury spa bed I bought a token and made my way to the metro. I guess Delhi wasn't to be avoided after all.

I think arriving in New Delhi station around 5.30 am was probably the best possible time. It was smoggy, chaotic and there were indians everywere, but I imagine it was still probably a tad less busy than at other hours. And probably also the sleep deprivation induced fog helped to blunt down the impact of culture shock a little. For some reason it all just seemed natural. This was India, but there was a certainty in me that things would go well. There was no fear, no panic of not finding my way. I skirted round all the taxi, tuktuk and riksha drivers and made my way to what I hoped was the right direction. It was, and I got offered help and directions which took me through the New Delhi train station, with people sleeping on the floor and others hurrying to catch trains, to the overpass leading to Paharganj, Delhi's backpacker district.

When there, I had a plan to go to the first accommodation that was open and ask for a room. Didn't make it very far until a guy popped up, like they do around here, and offered to show me a room for 700 rupees in a “new and luxurious hotel, with own private room and warm shower, madam“ and although I was very aware that it probably would turn out to be some sort of a rathole, I followed him along the almost deserted side alleys of the Main Bazaar road. The room was fine (not new or luxurious by any standards), but I didn't manage to get the price go down, so I decided to try my luck somewhere else. The same guy offered to show me another room for 500 rupees and took me to a little shabbier place where I said no another time to a tiny and cigarette smelling room. But I was exhausted and the sum we were talking about wasn't really that big (700 rupees is around 9 euros), so I decided to take the first room anyway. I really needed my own place now, although I'm sure I could've got a dorm room for 200-300 rupees if I'd bothered asking around a bit. I didn't. This was perfect.

Home street
A first hot shower in 2 weeks felt amazing and I settled in to sleep. Which didn't happen, so around 10 I gave up trying, washed my hair (I knew there was a reason for coming to Delhi!) and set out for a little stroll around the neighbourhood. In the morning everything was still relatively quiet and I eased my way into the Indian way of doing things bit by bit. Had a lovely warm milk drink at the corner of my side street. Mozied down along the Main Bazaar street, taking photos and minding my own business. And so a little by little I felt more and more comfortable. I was in Delhi, baby! And it didn't feel bad at all. Yes I was being stared at and shouted „hello madam“ a gazillion times. But nobody was too pushy, and people let me do my thing, which was to take in all my zombified mind could. It was lovely. I found myself walking along with a huge grin on my face. Also had first encounters with Indian men and found out that a little conversation was nothing to be afraid of. Everyone was polite, wanted to exchange a couple of words, enquired where I was from, and then went pretty soon on their way again. Nobody tried to force themselves on me or push me into going somewhere I didn't want to go. What a wonderful thing to notice, after all the fearmongering I'd been hearing from left and right: that these are just people like everyone else. No reason to be afraid or worried, as long as I use common sense. Deep down I knew this to be true already, but it was amazing to get it proven now in practice.

One 25 rupee hot milk drink coming right up!
Deliciousness from the street. 10 rupees.
First impressions: I do love India. It's chaotic, crazy, vibrant, loud and tasty. And I needed to experience Delhi, no matter what plans I had. During my stroll I also had my first street food (a deep fried crispy bread-type something with a sauce that had at least potatoes in it, wonderful) and did a little necessity shopping, and just walked and marveled. Around 13 it started to get a little too busy for my liking and I still hadn't slept a wink in what felt like forever, so I headed back to my hotel. Soon I'll go and stuff my face with more delicious Indian food and then try to lure the elusive sleep a bit closer. Just wanted to do a quick post with some photos, now that I have the time. Energy no, but time. 

Maybe tomorrow at this time I'll already be in the ashram, enjoying a different kind of India experience. I really do hope so, although in the end I'm really glad I did get to see a little bit of Delhi as well. I find it really nice that although Paharganj is a backpacker district, there are still way more locals than foreigners and it feels way more authentic than, say, Khao San road in Bangkok. The only thing I'm not liking is the cold. After Thailand it really feels freezing in here although it is around 15-20 degrees, and Haridwar will be even colder. Brr... But otherwise:  Loving it! Who knew! <3

Wanna buy a giant club balloon?

Lovelovelove the old style architecture <3


Found an amazing food market



Awareness in a shirt. Would you wear this?






Amazing coconut / daal flour cookies in the making


1 comment:

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