Delhi. It's fascinating and awful at the same time, and for the same reasons. India's capital has about 18 million residents.. 18.. million.. people. All doing something. All going somewhere. All at the same time. All the time. We're not in Merritt anymore, folks. It's truly an amazing thing to be a part of, but it gets overwhelming pretty quick. The best way to experience the utter chaos of this city is definitely by rickshaw. It's an exhilarating experience to say the least. Somehow, these rickshaw drivers manage to expertly navigate their white-knuckled passengers through a moving maze of other rickshaws, cars, bikes, busses, motorcycles, cycle rickshaws, ox carts, hand-pulled wagons, street dogs, wandering cows, haphazardly-placed police barricades, potholes, and pedestrians. The whole lurching affair occurs at lightning speed to a soundtrack of horns honking and your driver yelling curses at anyone within earshot. The average fair is about 3 bucks.
As a lowly pedestrian at the bottom of the traffic food chain, you also have to keep an eye on the ground in order to dodge piles of garbage, poop, people laying on the ground, broken pavement, dogs, puke, mud, urine, snot rockets, loogies, and other mysterious globs. Everyone and everything is bumping elbows with everyone and everything else. No one takes up more space than they need, but no one gives up their right of way. Politeness only causes confusion and disruption to the crowd's natural flow.
Does the fascinating/awful thing make sense yet?
Delhi has been such an experience, it's hard to narrow down what to write about. I realize that I haven't mentioned anything about what we've done or where we've gone, but saying that we went to the Red Fort or that we had an amazing lunch at a rooftop cafe doesn't tell you anything about what it's like to be here. I like writing about the random little things in between, anyways. Here are some extras about Delhi from my notebook:
- 95% of the people you see out on the street are men. The women are few and far between, and are usually exquisitely dressed in bright colours.
- as a tourist, the more bored-looking the person you're talking to is, the more trust-worthy they tend to be. Anyone overly-friendly or helpful usually ends up trying to sell you something
- at the Red Fort today, it was interesting to see so many groups of young men browsing the monuments and museums. Strange observation, I know, but it seems to me that you would never see groups of young North American men spending their Tuesday together reading plaques about their country's history.
- pollution is a major issue. Just from walking around for a few hours, there's grime on our faces, dirt under our nails, and our throats and eyes burn. I cringe thinking about the crap settling in our lungs, and we've only been here for 3 days.
- no amount of research can prepare you for every scam. The touts are organized and the execution is smooth. I hate to admit it, but we ended up falling for one. It cost us $50 USD and Ryan got smacked in the head when we called them out and the tout got pissed. But we got out in one piece with our passports and didn't get stuck with a shotty $1400 tour package. It could have been worse, but it wasn't the greatest introduction to India.
Tomorrow, we take on the infamous Indian trains on our way to Agra. You may have heard of the Taj Mahal?