Thursday, February 2, 2012

Live from New Delhi, it's Friday morning?

There's something inherently weird about losing a day of your life.  It's odd to think that Feb 2, 2012 is was only about 3 hours long in my personal history.  I left on the 1st, had 16 hrs aboard a plane, and somehow arrived on the 3rd.  Oh well, I guess I'll get it back eventually.

The trip overall was pleasantly uneventful.  Except for some minor plane delays, some unappetizing airline food, and a bit of turbulence, it was all together a very good trip.  I listened to The Hunger Games for most of it, and slept in between (thanks to some flexeril).  Before I knew it, I was in Delhi.

Coming through the arrival gate was a moment of realization for me.  As I looked out over the masses waiting to get their passports checked, I had to laugh at the thought of sticking out like a sore thumb.  A pasty, blonde, sore thumb.  But while I was waiting in line, I heard the distinct sound of Brazilian Portuguese in my ear.  I turned around, saw big Brazilian smiles, and struck up a conversation with some of the ladies behind me.  They were from Belo Horizonte, and had the same inviting aura I have found amongst so many Brazilians.  They thought me brave for trekking out on my own, I thought them crazy for trying to travel in such a big group - but I kept that to myself.  I was just enjoying the moment of familiarity, as I knew nothing would be familiar to me from here on out.

The line went it's separate ways, and as I approached the border agent, I actually felt a touch of worry.  He was obviously not happy about his career choice, let alone having to be there at 2am with thousands of people (yes, I'm pretty sure there was a couple thousand in the room) waiting on him.  I handed him my papers.  He grunts something about things not being filled out and hands me back my passport.  My stomach drops.  I've heard too many horror stories associated with passports, but before I freak out, I remember the 'honey attracts more bees" bit, I ask in the sweetest tone I could muster, "What do I need to do?"

In a still gruff, but tolerating tone, he explains to me the items I'm missing and even helps me fill out the paper.  Grateful for all the help, I ham up the dumb but grateful blonde act (hey if it works...).  Before long he stamps my passport and directs me to baggage claim.  It was brief, but I'm pretty sure he even cracked a smile as I bid him farewell.  Score one for pleasantness.

Two hours after landing, I have my visa stamped, my bags in tow, and now I'm hunting for a piece of paper with my name on it amongst the nameless and unfamiliar faces lining the pick-up spot.  It's 3:30am, the air is cool, but heavy with a strange mix of smog, fog, and spice.  The airport is still bustling, and as I search the long row of printed names, I can't even imagine what it's like trying to navigate during the day.

Eventually I find my driver and we're off.  It doesn't take me very long to realize people out here abide by different rules on the road.  First of all - the British spread and left their awful practice of driving on the left-hand side.  Secondly, there are no other rules.  Well, accept perhaps 'if you can fit, you have the right of way.'  There is very little traffic, and so my driver decides two lanes are better than one, and straddles the white line pretty much the whole way home.  Pedestrians?  They better move.  Crosswalks?  Not sure they actually exist.  Red lights?  Optional as long as there's nobody in front of you, and if there's someone coming you can just honk at the cars driving through the green light.  Oh, one more thing.  Honking is more of a statement of "I'm here" than "get out of my way," and since there is no degree of personal space on the road, it gets used a lot.

But despite the drastic differences and my renewed sense of gratefulness for traffic laws, I really wasn't nervous.  My driver seemed to know what he was doing, so even if there were no perceivable rules in this game, I felt confident he knew how to play.  I had the same sort of experience this morning in a taxi I took from the hotel.  Although this one seemed to enjoy playing an unfair game of chicken with pedestrians - and that made me a bit nervous for them.  I think if I can help it, I'm going to try and avoid crossing ANY street in Delhi - ever.

My room in Delhi

Well that about sums things up.  I'm enjoying the comfort of my room, especially the clean air.  The smog here in Delhi is REEEEEDICULOUS!  It's a wonder the whole city doesn't have lung cancer.  For those in Utah, think of a bad inversion day, and multiply it by 10X.  Yuk.  Oh well, I'm sure my lungs will survive one more day of it, and then I'm heading to Rishikesh.  Tomorrow I'll be doing a food tour and checking out more of the city, then Sunday I'll be catching a sacrament meeting before driving up to Rishikesh.  Until then, Namaste!


  1. The best part? I can almost picture just what was going on when you were talking to that border agent. haha. And I am so very impressed that you weren't even nervous in that taxi! Sounds like a good start to your trip :)

  2. Hey, your airport curse has been lifted! :)
    It cracked me up reading about the drivers. Sigh...reminds me of home. Although, none of the "left side of the road" nonsense.