Thursday, February 12, 2009

It Begins

I’m here in Delhi now, and it’s just as scary, dirty, crazy and exciting as I expected. I am staying in Paharganj, the “backpacker’s ghetto.”. My room is on the third floor of “Ajay Guest House” which is in a little alley just off the main bazaar. The bazaar is a dirt street - muddy at the moment because it rained the night I got here - packed full of street vendors selling snacks and stores with textiles and the “STD” international calling centers.

Walking down the street I am constantly assaulted by the “Hello sir,” of touts who inevitably want to bring me into their shop or sell me a tour of some part of the country. They ask where I am from, “Aaaah I have friends from (Texas, New York, any US State), Very nice people. How long have you been in India?” “One week,” I lie, trying not to sound like such a newbie to Indian travel, though it probably hardly makes a difference. The conversation continues with them asking where I am traveling, and typically a disapproval of me going South. They would prefer I traveled to Kashmir where they can set me up with a very nice travel package.

I ate dinner last night at a “pure veg” restaurant that I was brought to by one of the touts, though I don’t think he was making money bringing me to the restaurant, it seemed he was more interested in sweet talking me into whatever scam or business he was running. The food was excellent though, a chunky mixed vegetable curry with paneer cheese, a saucy curry, rice, roti (naan) and the yogurty raita; All for 35 rupees (about 75 cents). Of course when the tout tried to bring me into his office I firmly refused and kept walking down the bazaar.

Sleep is quite elusive right now, as night and day are completely switched from home. It is perpetually noisy, though that doesn’t keep me up. Waking up feeling it impossible to sleep at 2 AM is rough, though I think I’ve totally at least 6 hours of sleep both nights I’ve been here.

Tonight I am supposed to meet Solon, a guy who used to work at camp and is now living in Delhi. I don’t know him, but we have many mutual friends from camp. He is interested in doing some trekking, so hopefully I will meet him again in April to go into the Himalayas.

My flight to Chennai leaves tomorrow at 7:30 AM so I’m going to have to take a hectic, predawn Taxi to the airport.


Anonymous said...

Touts--crazy! Sounds so Dickensian! I can hardly imagine the change from home....did see Slumlord night before last, so have some more the post...can't wait to see it unfold here!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like its gonna be an amazing journey. wish you nothing but the best of luck in you travels, and i look forward to reading about your trip.

Unknown said...

This is so exciting! Now that you're gone, I'm no longer so worried and anxious about the trip. I'm enthralled by the idea of your travels and immensely enjoying your first few entries. It already sounds amazing.

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