I went to India. And it was…AWESOME.
I didn’t have the mind-blowing revelation I had hoped for. I suppose the anticipation for one rid the possibilities of such an epiphany. I think they’re supposed to happen when you least expect it—like staring at beautifully-designed architecture built by a genius king who predicted his own death (and died before he could warn anyone about it)—relating the complexity of his design to the complexity of yourself.
When I thought of India, I imagined elephants and cows and colorful markets and yoga and wise men in cloth who see astronomical things in your eyes. Well, there were some cows and abundant markets, but I saw no elephants or yogis or old spiritual men showing me ‘the way’.
It was just like any other holiday. Me and a city I didn’t know. But like I do in most cities, I slid right in like I’d been there all along. Of course, the stares from true locals said otherwise, but regardless, I owned it. I bargained like a local, I dined like a local, I smelt like a local, I even dressed like a local. It all felt so natural. So much so, in fact, I convinced myself I never wanted to leave. There was so much more I hadn’t seen, and I’d be damned if I left without doing so.
I was honored to have been housed in arm’s reach of the better parts of Delhi. Surrounded by rich history dating back to years that don’t exist in the chronicles of the western world. Trees flood the backyards of Indian highways. Highways of which are chocked-full of little–but terribly loud–green and yellow auto-rickshaws, motorbikes carrying up to three passengers, jam-packed cars, milk-transporting trucks, beggars, and balloon and book-sellers.
My preferred mode of transportation is in an auto-rickshaw! If I could, I would cruise the streets of San Jose in one of these buggies–popping to Target at 30MPH. (I wonder what people would think…) When I discovered the God-send, I vowed that if we could get to our destination with whatever change we had in our pockets, we took an auto rickshaw. I didn’t care about the inconveniences, it was the only way I was gonna see Delhi.
Besides shorter-distant public transportation, there is also a fleet of metro lines that connect many parts of the city. When you arrive at a station, there is a man and a woman (ready to harass your curves to find I-don’t-know-what) lurking behind sex-segregated metal detectors (detecting I-still-don’t-know-what). What was impressive to me, was the introduction of women-only carriages at the back of the trains. They’re there to aid women’s safety against potential gropers and other creepy beings. Of course, it’s disappointing that women are still at high risk of harassment, but I see these measures as a step forward in the right direction!
I have so many more things to say. There’s the architecture, the nature, the birds (they have wild parrots and parakeets!), the food… Oh! I must talk about the food.
After eating homemade vegetarian meals for a couple days, I was pumped at the sight of chicken. More specifically, chicken momos. Momos are like the ice cream of Indian street food. They’re everywhere, and they’re good. The other common on-the-go food is paan. I don’t know why I disliked swallowing the stuffed leaf whole, but it was not my cup of tea. That said, I’d still encourage people to try it as it’s an interestingly acquired taste. (Can something be “interestingly” acquired? Well, if so, that’s paan for you.)
Ignoring what killed me in the end, I did a pretty good job at not getting sick… Despite the daunting stories of clueless white people blindly gobbling up delicious-looking street food in Old Delhi and then getting that Delhi Belly. I didn’t get sick from eating the ‘wrong’ food, per se…I just shouldn’t have reheated those damn tandoori chicken momos… Luckily, it didn’t happen until the last two days, and frankly, it made leaving Delhi just a little bit easier.
All in all, it was a fabulous trip. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure, there were things I missed and things I wish I had done more of, but there is always next time. And frankly, I can’t wait.
To all those who made my time in India the best I have (and will) ever have, shukriya.