18 September 2010

First stop in India - Delhi

by C

When I got back from India, people of course asked "What was India like?"

My response would be a long pause with a puzzled look and then something like "Well...its dirty, chaotic, awesome, disgusting, beautiful, frustrating, amazing, surprising, unpredictable.... and the filthiest most beautiful place I have ever been."

When I landed at Delhi's very modern airport at 6am, I followed the signs/crowds to Customs & Immigration where there were maybe 30 desks with officers checking peoples passports, visas etc.

There are forms to fill out prior to queuing for passport control....but there were no forms at the tables where the forms are supposed to be. Maybe 40 tables with spaces for hundreds of forms....no forms.

I turn around, there are easily 50 customs and immigration personnel on duty, some sitting some standing and apparently none of them able to restock the forms. So I watch as maybe 200 tourists from my flight get in line, wait and get turned away because they didn't have the forms. I also watch as people ask for the forms, and are directed to the empty tables...even after they explain that there are no forms.

I walked over to an official looking type and asked him if he could provide me with a form because there are none available and he seemed genuinely stumped by the whole situation.

It took 20 minutes before someone brought some forms out to the 200 pissed off people waiting. How many forms did they bring out?


Welcome to India....everything here is completely screwed up, and barely works...but somehow it still does.

So I get my bag and go outside where there is a driver waiting holding a sign that says "Arolnd"

I say "I'm Arolnd" and off we go by car on a 40 minute ride through the most congested  mass of people and cars I have seen since my trip to China. Complete madness and chaos, followed by shortcut driving through the back "streets" of Old Delhi towards where many cheap "hotels" are concentrated, famous among budget backpackers, we arrive in Paharganj.

Paharganj main drag...Main Baazar is...well...its absolutely filthy, hence the reason the concentration of super-budget "accomdations".

Its a great first taste of India. Up in your grill madness. Cows walking the streets crapping as they go, motorcycles zipping through crowds, mud, sewage, 100 degree heat, a nauseating stench, and people trying to sell you everything under the sun.

Welcome to India!

I don't want to sound like I am completely bashing India, because I'm not. I just want to make sure I paint an accurate picture. My travel companions Will, Guillaume and I came to India to get off the beaten path and do a trip more on the edge.

We got exactly that...and then a whole lot more.

Elephants....on the street!

Stay tuned for more pics and stories of India....coming soon.


Colleen said...

Keep it coming Chris. I love hearing your stories about your trips, especially this one b/c I'm grossly fascinated!

Kelly said...

I love you Arolnd.