PEOPLE HAVE BEEN IN INDIA FOR A LONG TIME. There are evidence of people hunting and gathering dating back to 500,000 BC. With such a long history of civilization, being the birthplace of Hinduism and Buddhism, both great religions of the world, and home to unique food, culture and caste system, India is well prepared to amaze me, as she has left millions of travelers in awe every year.
After a long drive home from Penang yesterday, I hastily finished my last minute packing today morning, before leaving for my afternoon flight. I ended up with bringing only a 20L backpack and a small daypack with 3 changes of clothes, a jacket, a towel and flip-flops. I definitely pushed myself hard for wanting to travel light this time, and I hope my baggage serves me enough for my one-month trip.
All my luggage for the one-month-long trip
The LCCT terminal is filled with a hectic crowd, a good proof that ‘Now everyone can fly’ as advertised by the low cost carrier giant Air Asia, which is also Malaysia’s pride. I followed my line into a large common boarding gate serving all international departures. There on, passengers have to work their way to their designated gates (which is not an easy task considering the number of confused people in front of you), before they get their passes checked. The lines are then shoo-ed onto the airplanes by security guards.
THE FLIGHT WAS UNEVENTFUL, even almost boring at times. I was sitted beside a group of Indonesian Muslim pilgrims whom I turned to initiate small talk bu failed. However, by then, I have a feeling that things are going to go beyond my expectations.
After landing at the Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport, our baggages were delayed for an hour without any explanations or apologies. Then the confusing shuttle bus that promised free rides to the city left one after another without taking any passengers. I then decided not to wait any longer, and went onto a shared auto-rickshaw. Words failed to express my sheer amazement when we travel from wide modern paved roads into dusty small ones with chaotic cars, humans and animals all overtaking each other. This is when I start to both worry and anticipate my month here.
A glimpse of the new and modern Indira Gandhi Airport – not that efficient though
The confusing shuttle bus that left me very worried and clueless
Lucky for me, Bharath, an Indian from Fiji who works as a Kinesiologist in Australia, share my rickshaw and is a seasoned traveler. Upon arriving at Paharganj, known for being loaded with budget accommodation, kind and helpful Bharath allowed me to tag along while we brave the dim dirty bazaar for a good bet for the night. While here prepare yourselves to be bombarded by touts, all offering rooms. Most are young male teenagers, who speak enough English and is jam-packed with enthusiasm.
After bringing us first to one hotel crawling with insects, and a second one with dirty sheets, we finally settled on the third Cottage Goodday Hotel, a decent double with TV and attached bath for Rs 350 per night. Bharath saved me a lot of trouble by showing me around the area, and offering helpful tips that I obediently followed. According to him, the whole of Delhi is under construction, in preparation for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in October.
BHARATH AND I THEN CHILLED OUT with tasty Indian Thali at nearby Madan Cafe. He told me about his extended travels and his quest for healing and teaching. It seems like we have common interests in being open-minded at all kinds of therapies, and it feels great to find someone supports your cause.
While I part my ways with Bharath that night (he is leaving the next morning), I realized the extent of the adventure I signed myself into. With so many bizarre surprises packed into my first few hours here, I am determined that more will come and I will eventually give up having expectations and just go with the flow.
My room which was neat and comfortable enough
Paharganj by day, note the dusty roads and ill-managed construction