Saturday, January 26, 2013

Where do I begin?!

First stop was Delhi. What madness. The roads were a chaos of cars and bicyclists and buses, all honking and in between lanes. Seemed like the ones who honked the longest and loudest have the right of way. On two lane roads, it's a constant game of chicken...who will move over first? I have to look in the side windows to not get sick. New York City's rush hour is peaceful compared to this.

No matter how much the people sweep the streets and their market areas with their broom made if a few twigs, it still feels dirty. Perhaps it's the smell of incense and chewing tobacco. Or my driver who constantly throws his plastic tea cups out the window, despite my efforts to take it from him.

I knew it would be a poor area, but just didnt expect the packed conditions. The ride to Agra where the Taj Mahal is located should have taken 2.5 hours. It took my driver and I 6 hours. Granted, he took me the back roads to save himself the money. It was eye opening to see. There was some country, but it was mostly shack after shack, people hanging outside, packed like sardines in trucks on their way to build something at work, and cows tied up to ropes. Delhi constantly had a fizzy haze...more it was a deceiving warm red hue with freezing temps, afternoon gray/brown fog and a warm upper 60degrees.

My driver was a sucker for the kids who came up to our car when we stopped at lights. He'd give them what would be equivalent to a US penny or nickel...and say that these were his brothers and sisters. If he helps them out then God will help him out. He was a 21 year old Muslim, saying he didn't have a girlfriend because he didnt have money. Lol. His rent per month was US $60, and made $75/month. He would take me to good restaurants...I asked for middle of the road, not dirt cheap but not expensive. The food was delicious, especially the chai teas! So it was great having him know the places, and he'd eat in a separate room, for half the price. I was getting annoyed with the American rate like this, but realize he gets a discount from bringing people to the restaurants. I suppose it'd be the same in America.

Seems like people here value the afterlife much more than the here and now. The taj mahal was just a huge tomb for the kings favorite wife...other temples are just as magnificent. The people seem to know they are poor, but have the attitude that it is what it to impossible to get out of their rut. They must not have had the 4th grade lesson about writing letters of complaints to get what you want? They are go go go, worrying only of themselves. Typical big city attitude? The schoolchildren were the friendliest towards me...smiling, looking, and some daring enough to say hi then shy away when I said hello back. The drivers to/from the airport could care less...didn't really help me with bags. Though I found my driver to Agra via my hotel to be legit, he kept hounding me for a tip, and would take me to his friends stores where they offered all sorts of silk goods and rugs. 'Madam. Just look. No pressure. You like, I get you good deal.' Rrrrrright. Granted I did talk them down to good deals, but I did not appreciate the constant hassling. Either way I left feeling like I was the American girl who got screwed over or who screwed them over. It's been easier on the beach to just walk past and ignore them.

So yes, I made it out of Delhi and to the beaches of Goa. Though the drive from the airport up to Anjura was a pricey $20 and chaos of honking once again...and it still has a faint smell of incense, this is much more my style. Apparently other white folks feel the same as there seems to be an even mix of folks. The wealthier Indians are here on holiday too...instead of hassling for money, they hassle for photos with a white chic. It was flattering for the first couple times, now I say no. One young indian dude asked to hold my hand on the beach. When I told him I saved that for boyfriends, he asked to be my boyfriend for just 15 minutes. No thanks.

Side note: I think I have inherited my great aggressive habits from people here. After all, most Chicago cab drivers are foreigners and are quite aggressive but composed drivers...I'd like to think I'm that way most often! Also...I thought it was funny how Indians tilt/bob their heads side to side. Apparently this is like nodding your head 'yes' only this bob move means 'ok'.

I was warned that I'd have little personal space and that is so true! People cutting in line, people wanting to chat, etc. As I came alone for this portion of the trip, I am grateful for the friendly folks. Everyone but the backpackers question why on earth I'd travel alone! There are few Americans, but lots of Brits and various Europeans. The area was actually settled by Russians and most people guess I'm from Germany or Norway. Lol. Still the basic language is English.

Here is my present view. 90 degrees and cloudless. America is right beyond the horizon and Africa and to the right....or rather, directly beneath me. I'd be lying to say that I'm not missing denver and snowboarding...but I'll be back to that in no time! Off to get some fresh fruit...

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