Before leaving on this trip, I had a variety of different reactions from people when I told them where I was going. From people that had been here before, I got: “You’re going to love it, but prepare yourself, it’s unlike any other place in the world.” But from most people, I got: “You’re going there by choice?” or “Is it even safe for you to travel there?” Traveling for me, especially in the recent years, has really become more and more about pushing my personal limits and stepping outside my comfort zone, and I knew India would do just that.
As we landed in Delhi a few days ago (November 29th), I started to mentally prepare myself. After basically two days of airplanes and airports, it hadn’t really sunk in that I was heading to India until I touched down and heard the pilot welcome us. We were here and despite being jet-lagged and exhausted, I was still feeling a bit anxious and nervous about what awaited us outside of those sliding doors past immigration.
In my mind, I pictured people rushing over to us from every direction trying to sell us everything but the kitchen sink, but the truth was, it was nothing like that. We headed out of departures, and followed the sign to the airport express/metro. We had one clinger who was trying to offer us a cheap ride to the city, but we stood our own and headed to the ticket booth, and hopped on the train that would drop us off at the New Delhi station.
I pictured the train being this rusty mess, with people hanging off the sides, but it was similar to the airport to downtown train we have in Toronto. It was clean, modern, and easy! When we walked above ground, out of the train station, that’s when it hit us… we were now officially in Delhi, and it was overwhelming, dusty, smoggy and did I say overwhelming? From cattle crossing the road, to people and traffic coming from every direction, it’s hard to wrap your head around how having minimal rules of the road can actually work, but it does.
Our first steps out of our hostel and actually attempting to explore the surrounding area of Old Delhi, where we were staying, was overwhelming but at the same time, significantly less stressful then I first imagined. The bizarre thing is, the chaos going on around you, from the people, to the dirt and garbage on the ground, to the traffic flying from everywhere, this city should stress you out, but for me, it was almost like my senses were overloaded to the point that you were beyond being stressed.
Another post you may be interested in reading: “A Reality Check in India”
It wasn’t until we headed out of Delhi towards Jaipur that I think it really hit me that I was in India and what was happening around me. I sat with bug eyes on the bus as we passed through village after village, and watched the poverty from the countryside switch to the hustle and bustle of the city of Jaipur. As we pulled into the city, I watched a tiny little girl play dress up in her mothers sari on the side of the road, running around in bare feet beside piles of trash which served as the cattle, pigs and dogs lunch. Animals that seem so at peace, and immune to the chaos around them, despite the fact that back at home in Canada, a city street would be no place for them.
As we walked through the streets of Jaipur, it was madness in every direction. You can’t even for a second, stop and think or daydream, you have to be aware 24/7. We watched locals as they purchased their fresh chicken, and by fresh I mean the chicken was killed, de-feathered and skinned right there on the side of the road, so close to traffic that if a rickshaw or tuk tuk cut a corner a little too tight, there would be a mess of chickens everywhere. The thing about India is that they don’t seem to think about the what-ifs. India thinks about what works then and there and they do it. I live in a first world country that worries about everything and has rules and regulations for everything, a country that tries so hard to be perfect, when India just figures out what works for them, and goes with it.. a quality that every country should admire in some weird way.
India, I still have so much left to explore while I’m here, and I can’t wait to see what else you have to offer.