Monday, January 23, 2006

Delhi: first steps in India

Ever since my arrival in India (about 3 months ago), I have never ceased to be mesmerized by this country; the people, the culture, the spirituality, the food…
My first impressions of India were based on my experience in Delhi. I stayed there a few days, waiting to find a cheap flight to Cochin. Right away I experienced the amazing hospitality of the people here, which I continue to be spoiled with these days. During the flight from Hong Kong to Delhi, I started speaking with my neighbor, a businessman from Delhi, hopping from one place to the next, barely having the time to take a breath between two business conferences. As I was planning to spend the night in the domestic airport to catch an early flight the next morning to Cochin, he kindly offered that his driver drop me off there. On the way, we stopped at the businessman’s home, where I was kindly invited in for tchai (this delicious sweet milk-tea that you can find at every street corner throughout India), - at 11pm!!! Knowing that I would spend the night at the airport, the businessman’s wife insisted that I stay at their house for the night… that’s when I started realizing that traveling alone as a woman may be difficult and dangerous at times, but in the end there is always someone who offers you hospitality- or maybe, it is just how it is here, offering hospitality to a traveler.

The next morning, as I traveled to Paharganj, a bazaar close to Old Delhi, I was able to notice the craze of the city, the few tourists strolling around, the busy merchants carrying heavy loads of rice or wheat on their heads, and the cycle rikshaw feverishly ringing their horn as they pass by almost bumping into me. Here it's not like in the US where the cars somewhat respectfully yield to the passers-by, but it seems that the cars, or the rikshaws almost want to hit the people on purpose- it takes some serious skill to cross the road. It's the same in China, actually.... and one of my first thoughts as I was leaving the airport was that there isn't a lot of difference between the driving in China and the driving here in India, even though people are supposed to drive on different sides, in the end, everyone ends up in the middle of the road!

Busy Chandni Chowk in Delhi

A first walk in the streets of a city like Delhi (or any big city in India as I found out later on) is quite the experience. In addition to the beeping cycle and auto rikshaws, I was amused by the cows silently chewing on some plastic bag, I was overwhelmed by all the smells- the burnt oil odor of fried samosas, the cardamom of warm badam milk, as well as the toilet odor due to all the urinating in the streets... and the beautiful sarees of the women with their shining bangles and golden nose rings really dazzled me. And in the midst of all of this, I always had to fend off some persistent guy asking: "Rikshaw, madam?" Delhi is filled with bazaars such as the Chandni Chowk bazaar where shops of cloths line the streets, Dilli Haat, or Sarojini nagar. There's also a ton of monuments left by the British or by the Mughals...

Humayun's Tomb

On the steps outside the mosque- Jama Masjid

Rashtrapati Bhavan built under the British


Blogger Nikunj said...

Hi There,

Great to see your blog updated. Cant wait to see more of India from a westerner's eye.

"Shuba Yatra"


12:06 PM  

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