We have made it through the first week of India! What can we say? India is crazy!
When we landed in New Delhi on Sunday morning, made our way through the immigration control and into the metro station towards Delhi Train Station, which was close to our hotel we had pre-booked, everything seemed to be ridiculously easy. Easier than we expected, so easy it seemed like we missed some important detail. As soon as we walked out the Metro Stop in Delhi we knew. There was the craziness right in front of us. The station was full of thousands of people, carrying two or three suitcases each on their head or other goods, offering us things, staring at us. There was the smell, the noise, the trash. Piles of trash everywhere.
Even crossing the street seemed impossible because surely there are no traffic lights and traffic just magically flows, what’s meant to be a two lane street turns in India into a 6 lane road, nobody ever stops, if you want to go you just have to start walking and hope to not die. That’s what we did and magically made it over the street onto Main Bazaar Road, which turned out to be the craziest place in all Delhi (of course we missed that Detail when we decided for a place to stay). EVERYONE tried to talk to us, offer us Tuktuks, Taxis, food, hotels, help and who knows what. It was overwhelming! Eventually we made it to the spot where our hotel was supposed to be, except it was nowhere to be found. We walked up and down the street several times and of course people started to notice we were lost, but we were too overwhelmed to take anyone’s help, in the back of our head still the warning everyone had given us about shady people taking tourists to shady places. Eventually we asked someone who didn’t try to talk to us and he pointed us the way (down some shady alley in which the buildings were build so close to each other that there was not one bit of natural light). We made it to our hotel where they immediately offered us their shittiest room but in the end we asked for a new room and they showed us to one. It was still not great, probably still the grossest place anyone of us had stayed at, but hey there were no bugs at least, so we accepted. (and anyway we paid about 750 Rupees for it (~10 Euro) for two nights, so who can complain?
Delhi was a crazy start to our crazy journey, we never managed to stay out for too long before it started to get too overwhelming again, we didn’t dare to trust anyone and everybody bothered us. In the end we saw barely anything in Delhi, and were glad to take the Train to our next stop, Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.
Riding trains in India is nice, there are about 7 different classes on the train, but since we are both cheapskates we decided for the second worst , it didn’t turn out too crazy though. It was actually sort of a nice ride.
Except we drove through the slums of Delhi, which was very sad. Seeing things like that on TV or reading about it, has nothing to do with the actual seeing it. It gives you a different perspective to your own life (actually India seems in general to put everything into perspective). People live basically in a huge field of trash. There was no spot of ground to be seen, it was only trash, cows basically grazing in trash. The poorest of the poor, sitting around little trash-burning-fires to warm up behind their little hut. But I also saw happy things there. I saw people smile and play with their kids. Driving through the slums makes you feel ridiculous about all the small worries you have in your life while these people still manage to smile in their situation.
People on the train were extremely respectful (compared to Germany). Everybody took the shoes off before putting their feet on the seats, and a guy eating protected the seat with a layer of newspaper from staining it with his food). Everybody seems so friendly and smiley. Everyone is extremely curious and stares at us, but as soon as you flash a smile at them, they give you their warmest, biggest smile back – and that is for both the kids and the grown ups.
By the time we arrived in Agra we already felt less suspicious about everyone, already forgot some of the prejudices people had whispered in our heads for months when they heard we would travel to India.
More about our experiences next time, including how we visited the Taj Mahal without seeing the Taj Mahal…