Friday, September 7, 2012

What a day! Exploring Delhi... And upheaval in my plans.

So I got dressed up in one of my new salwaar kameez sets this morning. Everybody smiled at me when I walked out of my bedroom, and I really felt and looked wonderful.

The plan for the day was to take the metro to Connaught Place, wander around and maybe hit a market and check out a few sights and then head over to Akshardham Temple and explore that for a while.

Plans change!

Ok, first off? I love Delhi. Like Paris, despite being told over and over that people are rude and pushy, I had wonderful experiences all day long! Friendly smiles, help crossing the streets (and yes, this was QUITE necessary... Being a pedestrian in Delhi really is the most chaotic thing I've ever experienced in my life), and meeting interesting people.

One of those interesting people was a young man named Naaz. He and I ended up spending most of the day together. I had an awesome time hanging out with him. I met him in Central Park and we got to talking. When I told him of my plans to go up to Amritsar next and THEN head up to the mountains, he managed to change my mind on where to go. So while wandered around the Connaught Place circle we stopped in at the Indian Tourism Bureau and I spoke to an agent there about the cost of this new idea. It's more than I have budgeted, but with a few more changes to my ultimate itinerary I can cut things in other places and still stay within my means.

But what eventually has happened is that I canceled the bus I had JUST BOOKED THIS MORNING to Amritsar, and booked a flight up to Srinagar in Kashmir along with a three day stay on a house boat on Dal Lake instead. From there I'll travel on to Leh and visit other small places, then down to my meditation retreat in Dharamsala. Stay there for a week or so and then on to Amritsar. Back in Delhi around October 10 ( because that's roughly when Gauri and Rohit will be able to host me again and I am so looking forward to staying with them again and telling them all about my northern adventures.)

Now here comes more changes. I'm canceling the trip east. No Kolkata. No Darjeeling. Instead I'm going to do the Rajasthan circle and then head south to Bombay and Goa. *Laughs* This is when you know I'm a traveler and not a tourist. Plans are flexible and can change like this on a moment's notice. I'm still going to the Camel Fair though. Since I have to come back north towards late November anyway due to flying home from Delhi in early December it still works out.

Ok... Back to Delhi.

Naaz ended up taking me to the Lodi Garden as a (sort of) surprise. I very much dislike surprises when I am not in a place I'm comfortable in or familiar with so I made him tell me at least the kind of place we were going. Then when we caught the autorickshaw I got the exact destination.

I loved riding in the autorickshaw. It definitely fed my love of adrenaline! And I kept turning this way and that way. I just want to see everything!

Lodi Garden was amazing. The tombs and other crumbling ruins were gorgeous and I can't wait to do more detailed sketches based on sow of my photographs. I did one quick ten-minute sketch at one point when Naaz ran to buy some water, but I really want to nail more details later.

Because my flight is tomorrow morning, I had to cut my day short so I could get home and do laundry, get more transportation booked, deal with photos and other online stuff, and have a final night with my hosts.

I have no idea what the situation will be like on the house boat, so I don't know how much I'll be online. But I do expect a lot of time relaxing and seeing some spectacular scenery!

* * *

A few things that interested me enough to put down here:

1) I'm not sure if it's all the extra pollution in the air here masking things or if Indian cigarettes are just not as disgustingly toxic, but I have not been bothered in the slightest by cigarette smoke here. It's actually kind of refreshing to be in a hugely populated place and be able to *laughs again* breathe!

2) My parents had asked me when I spoke to them last night if I'd seen the examples of extreme poverty here yet. Last night I hadn't. Today I have. I know that my reaction to it is how every native Indian reacts to it (they don't even register the beggars... when one comes up to you your eyes just sort of glaze over and they simply disappear from sight) and I am bothered by this more than I know how to put in words. But I cannot do anything. I cannot help. You have to be able to ignore them, or you wouldn't survive here. I guess I am a survivor. But fuck... deep down it leaves me feeling like a rotten human being. :(


  1. That's how things happened for me in France. I landed at CDG, bought a ticket to Brussels... and decided I wanted to be in Amsterdam. (My entire trip could've been $200 cheaper had I landed in Amsterdam first.)

    Later on I picked Lyon because it was the fastest trip out of Paris to "somewhere else". After a few days I headed to Marseille, but I could not stay the weekend due to a major soccer match filling the hostel. So I asked the guys at the bar where to go for cheap action.

    "Montpellier! College town, medieval, it's great."

    They were so right. I had the best personal connection of my non-classroom time in Montpellier.

    Enjoy the spontaneity.

  2. Hey Lori,
    I hope you got to Shrinagar ok. I have been trying to call but your phone is switched off. Please call when you get this. Am getting a little worried.