Wednesday, November 18, 2009
It is hard to believe this city exists and it is a weird mash-up as the old ways of life are still very much visible here. Cabs, rickshaws, cars, motorcycles, buses, dogs, goats, cows, donkeys, and camels all vie for room on the highway. Everything comes at a negotiable price and the smallest favors require a "tip" (so I quickly learned to carry my own bags). Even from the static calmness of a car, the chaos on the streets is overwhelming. Children run up to every car stuck in traffic either trying to sell some trinkets or simply begging for food. I can't tell you how heart-breaking it is to have an 8 year old girl in rags, with matted hair, a baby pappoosed on her back, tapping at your window, bringing her hand to her mouth hoping for her next meal. And there are hundreds of them dodging cars and being shooed away by the native drivers.
The backdrop to all this seems to be something from another planet. Old shacks, modern buildings, and ancient mosques make the skyline like no other place on Earth. The history and the culture are waiting to be uncovered by the next tourist courageous enough to brave the streets.
My hostel, located about 10 minutes from Indira Ghandi Airport, is on the Main Bazaar in New Dehli. A couple of quick turns down the alley and there is a narrow glass door held open by the manager. He pointed me up three flights of stairs and along the way I was delighted to find I wasn't the only traveler staying here. My room was quite small and had space for the one bed in it. There was a toilet and sink in the bathroom, but no toilet paper or mirror. Oddly enough there was not outlet I could use either. The one in the room was being used by a broken old tv and even the plug was bolted to the wall.
Finally at a stopping point I was able to take everything in. I didn't have anywhere to be for the next 12 hours and sleep came very quckly.