Tuesday, January 10, 2012

back in Delhi, day 4; last day

Sister Rosetta Tharpe • This Train

January 10th, 2008

I had some errands to do in Connaught Place today, changing my Bangkok flight to an early flight to Singapore. That in itself was an adventure but not one I feel like retelling... Actually I'm cutting my India travels a few weeks short because I've been exhausted dealing with the everyday stuff here. South East Asia is easy compared to here. It means that I must cancel may plans to spend some time at an ashram in Rishikesh, where the Beatles had stayed and also my plans to spend sometime in Darjeeling, where the world's third highest peak overlooks the world famous tea plantations.

It'd not an easy decision but I've decided to join a Korean friend who will be traveling in South East Asia and this is not a very good time of year to head up into Darjeeling anyway, since heavy snow could potentially keep me stuck up there. As for Rishikesh, maybe next time...

Back in Pahar Ganj, it was a busy afternoon running up and down the street get a train ticket to Varanasi, looking for a pharmacy, trying to get faxes sent to Canada, trying unsuccessfully to deal with Korean work visa issues that didn't exist when I left. After rushing past a few men sitting outside their shop for the third time, one of them called me over and told me I needed to pay more attention to what was going on around me. I wasn't sure what he meant specifically, if I was calling too much attention to myself, or if he meant in general, or if he was just trying to distract me while someone else tried to pick my pockets. "Yup, thanks..." I said then kept on hurrying.

Towards the end of the Main Bazaar Rd., I kept passing these three-cell outdoor urinals, that even in my haste made me pause. There wasn't a single time I passed that there wasn't at least two men using them either. I really wanted to take a picture, but it seemed inappropriate, even for me, and probably better for all of you that I didn't. They looked like a row of miniature swimming pools standing vertically right in the middle of all the mayhem. I've become completely accustomed, by now, to seeing men, women, and children squatting in the road right in front of me to relieve them selves but somehow these urinals manage to still strike me as odd, being in Delhi. I suppose if people are going to pee in the streets regardless, they might as well have a designated spot, with or without plumbing.

The last thing I did before packing up and leaving was to go back to the Malhotra Restaurant I'd been to with Carlos about two weeks ago. This time I passed on the Chinese I went straight for the tandoori chicken, that I couldn't imagine being better tasting anywhere else in the world! 

As I tried to enjoy it, a man came and sat next to me, whose face and arms was entirely covered in large, round lumps. I try not to be insensitive about these things, but my appetite diminished quickly as he insisted on talking to me about how amazing his country is, how they have the oldest religion, the oldest book, how they've contribute the most to mankind. He may have had some valid points, but I wasn't in the mood to hear about how great this (undeniably incredible, yet entirely frustrating) country is. I argued his claim of Sanskrit being the oldest written language but I didn't know any specific facts and he didn't seem interested in hearing about them. I also mentioned the many difficulties in India but he rebuked again, saying I was letting my experience affect my opinion. Really? What else could I base my opinion on? He quickly turned to the young Israeli eating over at the next table and asked him to support his claims. Looking as though he'd really rather not get involved, and I didn't blame him, he sort of nodded with an uncertain grin, probably hoping the attention would shift back to me. I felt like asking the guy what India's contributed in the last 2000 years (other than Gandhi, the Taj Mahal, black tea, and, well, it's a good thing I didn't ask, I guess) but it was much easier just to let him have his say and nod along. I finished my meal, went and checked out from the Payal Hotel, then carried my over-weighted bag to the train station to take the over night train to Varanasi.

My last impression of Delhi is hearing the scream of an American girl outside the window as I prepared to go. She began yelling at a man for touching her while his friend told her to calm down. "He just touched me, how can you tell me to calm down?" she shouted, with her voice shaking as though she were on the verge of tears.

I can't say my trip hasn't been amazing in so many ways, it's just that India can also wear on you, like sandpaper in your clothes. It definitely takes a thick skin to spend an extending amount of time bouncing around the country. Mines feeling especially thin, right now.

1 comment:

  1. I can only imagine how it can be difficult India can be. My teenage daughter was picked to be part of an Indian exchange and will be going for 3 weeks. She will be in for quite the trip I imagine. Still trying to get signed on as chaperone. The large cities must be something else in terms of population and polution.
    Have a safe trip to your next destination.