Arriving to New Delhi straight from Brunei requires a couple of days of rest and to get my bearings around.
Brunei being very organised, quiet and clean, New Delhi is quite the opposite. There is constant honking, people everywhere, busy traffic, litter everywhere, people constantly wanting to sell things or transport and …. a lot more. But there is that other side of India too. The great food, amazing chai, kind people and a lot more.
Since I’m traveling on a budget I chose to stay at a cheep hostel that turned out to be located in a rough area. Locals I’ve talked to shake their heads in … disbelief or perhaps they think I’m crazy choosing that area. It’s dangerous they say, hold tight to your phone, don’t talk to strangers.
It probably is all that. Too. But it is also part of the reality in Delhi. And still this is the backpackers area. I’m not the only foreigner here. And not every person you meet will try to mug you or try to rip you off. There are also all the kind people. But one has to keep the guard up all the time and evaluate every person that passes you by. Using your common sense is essential.
Yesterday afternoon we had heavy rain. The streets were flooded and the hostel lost the power. Just when I was on my way to have a shower. I decided to go and have food instead. At the restaurant next door I was asked to wait until they had cleared the water off the floor and as I was waiting I met Hoa, 29, from Vietnam. We talked, we clicked and decided to go somewhere else. Cafe Madan was the place and the owner, a 49 year old very handsome man, joined the conversation. It turns out Hoa and I are both planing on going to Rishikesh and the man told us to take the train. Not the bus. The train leaves from New Delhi station he say. Good, that’s close, I’ll find where to buy the ticket I said. No, you will not he replied.
The thing is that when you buy the ticket at the railway station you don’t pay commission. So when you get there people will ask you where you are going and if you have a ticket. You will say no, but you are on your way to buy one at the counter for foreigners. The will tell you that counter is closed that day and take you to another place where you will end up paying 600 rupees instead of the 140 the ticket actually costs.
Then he drew an exact map over the station and told me, don’t talk to any one, don’t tell anyone where you are going or that you want to buy a ticket. Tell them you already have one and just proceed to the counter. Don’t trust anyone.
So yes, there is this side of India too. The rich are very rich and the poor are very poor. A cow is more worth than a human life. People are know to be hit by one car and run over by another because the traffic doesn’t stop. Unless you are a cow. Then they stop. But that is another story. But people will do a lot of things to make ends meet. To survive.
And still there is something about this country that is so intriguing. It’s extremely hot and extremely rough and we still visit India. 12 October my visa expires. That gives me 2 months to explore this diverse and interesting country.
Let’s see what these 2 months have to offer.