King Rat (gkr) wrote,
King Rat

New Delhi

I've been keeping a paper journal. So all those entries will show up here at some point. At first I wasn't going to check email or live journal, and heavens to Betsy I was not going to update this thing.

But I've run smack into something that I thought I could work around: I fear the unknown. Big time.

I am extremely uncomfortable here, and I am on my own, more or less. So I feel lost. And scared. Wishing I had familiar people around me. I fucking hate tour busses and canned tours, but in retrospect, coming to a place like India that might have been a better route than the one I took.

No matter. I shall soldier on and enjoy myself.

Since y'all aren't necessarily wanting to read about my insecurities, I'll post a bit of my experiences so far.

There are lots of people in Delhi. Think of that park just south of the King County Courthouse where all the derelicts hang out. Now triple the people and multiply the size to the size of western King County. That's Delhi. People are everywhere.

Erin, if you thought driving in New Zealand was frightening at times, this place would give you a heart attack. The good thing is that no one drives faster than 40 km/hour or so in the city. There's no such thing as a freeway or even something like Aurora here. In fact, I can't really think of something comparable in Seattle. The bad news is that pretty much every traffic law is treated as advisory. Lanes? Vehicles go where they want. Generally they drive on the left, but that's not 100% of the time either. Vehicles fight with trucks, auto-rickshaws, bicycles, and ox & carts for space. And pedestrians. Horns are used a lot. Though in the U.S. horns are used in anger mostly. Here, it means I am here, give space.

My guide subjected me to one of the nicer rackets here. She was supposed to take me to a few sights (which she did). However, she afterward we took a detour to a rug store, where she told me having a cup of tea with the proprietor was a tradition. Essentially, it's a high pressure rug sale. No matter how much you protest I don't want to buy a rug they keep going almost until you walk out. Considering I was in a part of Delhi I didn't know, I was a little freaked (I didn't want to walked out and find myself without means to get back to the hotel). Even after I finally ended the attempt to sell me a Persian rug, she would not go until I perused the shop downstairs. I still bought nothing. I do feel somewhat sorry for her, as she went through a lot of work for her commission from the store. It's a common practice here, and I knew about it, but I didn't catch her doing it until we were out of the car and headed into the store. I should have specified to the travel agent here in India that I woul appreciate getting a guide who would not subject me to that.

I will end with the typical patter I've gotten from the touts here, in an attempt to get me to purchase something or to make my travel plans with a friend of theirs. Almost invariably the touts are young men; one was perhaps 10 years old. I've run into a few older ones. They invariably start off with I like your hair. Followed by where are you from? After I tell them Seattle, they get a blank look on their faces but also invariably say nice country there. Next they want to know where I am going. And how I am getting there. It's at this point, about 30 seconds in that I tell them I am not interested in getting help. None give up though. The young boy followed me into an upscale (by standards here) shopping district, but only got about 30 feet in before a security guard stepped in front of him blocking his way. He said something briefly to the tout, and then cuffed him smartly and shoved him the opposite direction.

Actually, I won't end on a negative note. I've found most people to be pretty friendly. My skin obviously stands out. I think my hair stands out even more so from the other foreign tourists. That and I am travelling alone. Four or five of the hotel's staff members have sat down to talk with me in the lobby. Same patter as the touts almost, but when it gets to the point where the touts tell me about their recommendations, the hotel staff talk about other topics. I visited the samadhi of Mohandas Gandhi today. There's a raised hill around it, in the shape of a square. Then I went inside, where you are required to remove your shoes. Afterwards, I picked up my shoes and walked a way out to sit on a bench to put them back on. Wanted to enjoy the sun there, rather than the shade of the concrete tunnel into the samadhi. After I had one shoe on, several Indians walked out and then requested that they could get their picture taken with me. Turns out they wanted a picture of me with the girl and a son of one of the others. I can't be really the only white person they've seen, but it's pretty rare for white tourists to walk around alone. People have been mostly very friendly. Now, if I can just learn the quick trick to know which ones are being friendly for friendly's sake, and those who are being friendly to sell me something.

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