I want to caveat this first… I am not a “tour” person. I like to travel, immerse myself in a culture, meet local people, see the world through their eyes. India was so massive and daunting to me that for my first go at this place, I felt I needed a guide, and therefore a tour. I signed up for a tour through the most local-friendly company I could find, G Adventures, and embarked on their 15-day Rajasthan Adventure, adding a few days on my own at the end to explore in my own way. Rajasthan is where most of India’s history began, so it felt a fitting place to start…
December 21, 2014: Organized – no, synchronized – chaos.
Arrived in Delhi today… First impressions: smog, traffic, friendly faces, cows, cycle rickshaws, tuk tuks, scooters…all vying for a lane. What lanes? Horns, chaos and I’m in fucking India in the back of a taxi from the airport and breathing it in along with the smog, fog, sounds, smells… this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg and it is hitting me in all my senses and from all directions.
Trucks, dressed up to party – tassles hanging and bling blinging. There’s one tall skinny guy standing motionless, like an iceberg or a human minaret, selling roses in the middle of this crazy racing traffic. And the children…there they are on the side of the road, in the dust, prepping his bouquets.
As we drive into Karol Bagh I recognize the overpass, and then the giant Hanuman statue, I’d seen in my Google searches. I feel like I am in the right place, because really where else on the planet could a 108′ Hanuman statue coexist with this chaos?
It’s so much noisier than I ever considered. The road signs are in Hinglish. There’s a alien-yet-familiar smoke-fog in the air. The myriad horns beep greetings and warnings in an alarmingly loud, yet rhythmic, cacophony. This is the score for Delhi’s ‘Synchronised Chaos Symphony #2’ (in Q minor).
My first shower in 2 days feels wonderful. And I think this: Delhi takes no prisoners and shows up 100%.