Arriving at 7:30 pm in Delhi and having to take a 45 min drive to Pahar Ganj in hopes of meeting two friends that I haven't been in contact with in a good day or two was... exciting to say the least.
As the plane doors began to open, I I felt I knew more or less what to expect on the other side, but what I forgot was how much of a sensory experience being in India is. The smells, the colors, the sights, the feeling of India.. I had a smile as the experience reconnected older memories from my last visit. It's great to be back. It feels like home.
I sat on a street corner, trying to stay out of sight of street vendors to get a minute to soak Pahar Ganj in. The man in front of me all of a sudden extends his hands and starts offering cigarettes to two men walking down the street. I didn't really know what it would be like to see two familiar faces in a sea of foreigners, locals, children, babies and the like. Well I decided to help this guy sell cigrettes and shouted at Mark and Jared to " cigarettes, just buy one pack!"
They looked over towards me with an uneasy eye, as if saying "who the hell is this guy.. and what's with his accent" until they realized who I was. It was good to be all together again.
We had a great dinner, talked about our experiences thus far, and where we want to go from here. All I know is that Delhi is interesting, but not the best first experience of India. We headed to bed dreaming of the opportunities for tomorrow.
Jet lag took it's toll on me. Not being able to sleep (still now I am not used to it, it is 3:20am as I write this), I decided that once the sun rises I'll go outside and enjoy the days succesion of the night. I walked around, enjoyed how very few people were out, most showering or getting ready for the day, and found a nice local shop that sold chai.
I sat with locals on knee-high red stools enjoying my first (for this trip) cup of chai in India. It was one of the most satisfying, relaxing things in the world. We all sat in silence. A man was reading his Hindi newspaper, another very business like man sat behind hidden eyes, and another was smoking his bidi. All with chai in hand. Some kids came by with their dog, barking laughing, awake, enjoying chai. A black and white television blared Hindi news. Strangely, there was a breaking news story and everything was written in Hindi and spoken in Hindi expect "BREAKING NEWS!" In front of the shop two kids and their father washed their clothes, washed their bodies, scrubbed their hair. It was as if all likes of people came together without an qualms to enjoy that magical time that is dawn, and a nice cup of chai. I confidentely joined them besides the few strange side glances.
And thus my day began... by 12pm I had already showered, shipped packages, did some basic shopping, figured out some information for traveling and stored up some energy for a hot day ahead...
It was gratifying knowing I was using my day fully, to it's full extent.
And let me tell you, Delhi is HOT. HOT, HOT. But it's nice, I love it. We spent a couple hours that afternoon searching for this RBS travels in Connaught place. But it seemed to be non-existent, not even other businesses had heard of it. Hot, frusturated, tired, and with no plan in sight, things were looking dire.
Until Sweta came along. Oh Sweta, meet a maid, you booked our trips so well... Sweta works for STA Travels and helped us book our next leg of the trip. She was like an oasis in a desert of governmental travel agents that everyone seemed to be trying to get us to go to. I am still convinced she must have been some kind of mirage...
Anyway here is the plan:
In a couple hours we have to get up, and catch a 6:05am train to Jaipur, the Pink City.
One night in Jaipur, and then we head to Agra.
After seeing the Taj and relaxing, we depart from Agra and head to Varanasi.
Solar Eclipse in Varanasi....
And then... to the east! The east!! We've all agreed: we really want to go camping. And despite the monsoon season and how it rains in Sikkim and Darjeeling, thats where we'll be headed.
By far the most excited for being in the mountains. The fresh air, the barren landscape, the wilderness.... and the himalayas. I've seen my fair share of mountains, Sierra Nevada, French and Swiss Alps, Appenines, Pyrenees, but I am not sure if I am prepared to stand at the foot of giants. Just a second of gazing up at them... for this experience, I really have no idea what to expect.
A sensory experience of inner city and people, to a sensory experience of absolute solitude in the mountains that are the Himalayas. Pictures are on their way.