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Being Indian in Bollywood – Delhi – Message #1 – Wednesday, September 7, 2005

on March 17, 2013

Hey all,

Most of the people on my list are probably still in bed as it’s the wee hours of Wednesday a.m. (although, Kirstie, I think I’m only a few hours behind you!) Here it is already 1:15 p.m. I got in at 2:00 this morning; both me and my luggage in one piece. Juli (some of you know (of) her) sent a driver and car to pick me up from the airport, which was really nice of her and saved me the hassle of figuring out exactly which taxi stand was government approved and therefore the “safer” option (in terms of not being ripped off).

My flight from Hong Kong to Delhi was pretty interesting. First of all, it was so cool to be on a plane where the language of communication was Hindi and the translation was Chinese. Hardly any English at all…and I understood most of what was said. Anyway, I was sitting in the first row of the economy section, lots of leg room (yeah, yeah, I know I don’t need it!) but it turns out that the rows with leg room are also where parents and babies are placed (there’s a folding table against the wall on which babies are placed in bassinets after take-off). The man sitting next to me had a three-month-old daughter who was pretty cute and mostly slept through the flight. I have no idea where the mother was but at one point early in the flight, the man turned to me and asked if I would change his daughter’s diaper. Yeah right. I mean, sure I’ve had some diaper-changing experience thanks to my nephew but that doesn’t mean I am going to change random diapers. Ick. I claimed not to know how and he asked an older lady (a grandma-figure) to give him a hand. Got out of that one but several times during the flight he needed help feeding his daughter or when he went to the bathroom he would hand her off to me. So, there begins the start of my adventure in India with odd questions and requests from strangers.

The hotel Juli is at (and I’m crashing at for a few days) is right in the heart of New Delhi. It’s a five-star hotel and quite nice. I feel like I’ll get spoiled in my first few days and then panic when I get out to the other parts of N. India and suffer from poor showers and squat facilities. Ick. I didn’t get to the hotel until close to 3:00 a.m. today and Juli had to work at 8:30. Despite this, she and I couldn’t not chat for a little while, which, in the end worked out well as I woke up at around 7:30 and had breakfast with Juli (included with our hotel room…and not just continental…hot foods included!) Having breakfast with Juli worked out well because I pretty much am on India time now and am not feeling too jet-lagged.

I spent about three hours wandering around Delhi’s Connaught Market. I got totally ripped off on the taxi to the market – but I am still not getting this whole bargaining thing…maybe by the time my holiday is over I’ll bargain well enough to be truly East Indian. I haven’t bought anything yet, mainly because Juli and I are going to a big market tonight. But here’s a funny thing…I know enough Hindi to get by and wandering around the Market, when I asked people prices for things in English they quoted one price but when I asked in Hindi they quoted a way lower price. And on that note, most of the locals ignored me – for today; hardly anyone asked me for money and I was rarely stopped by a vendor. My theory has always been that since I’m East Indian, I likely won’t get “hassled” as much as someone who is “obviously foreign”. And the rickshaw driver on the ride back to the hotel gave me a “local rate”. Score one for me; even though I still am not bargaining.

It is hot and humid here. Newsflash, I know. But it is WAY hotter than I expected. Before I came here I thought the two things that would be my challenges would be the crowds (13 million people in Delhi alone) and the smells. But to be honest, so far, the smells aren’t that bad…worse than at home, of course, but so far not as bad as I had imagined. I mean, I’ve been here less than 12 hours and haven’t seen much so I could be in for a rude awakening. As for the people, yeah, there are lots of them but they seem to move quickly for the most part so it’s not like I’m stuck in a crowd for hours on end.

The two things that I am finding challenging…the heat/humidity – why did I even bother to shower this morning? And the fact that I take my life in my hands every time I try to cross the road. I’ve taken to crossing with locals since they seem to know what they are doing. Scary stuff. I should have made out a will, I think.

Side note to mom and dad on that note…I watched Waqt on the plane to Delhi (for my non-Indian friends, this is a Bollywood film about “the race against time”. The main actor is a dad, dying from lung cancer, he doesn’t want his 27-year-old son to know he’s dying but before he dies, the father wants to make his son “stand up on his two feet”.) I am glad I didn’t watch this with you two at home – it was probably the saddest movie I’ve seen since Bagbhan (another one with the same main actor for my non-Indian friends, and Juli – Amitabh Bachan since I know you love him). Anyway, I cried for at least half of the movie and was a total mess. I couldn’t even get to the bathroom easily because the man with child was in my way.

Okay, gotta run, my half hour is up.

Will write again soon.
Narmin

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3 responses to “Being Indian in Bollywood – Delhi – Message #1 – Wednesday, September 7, 2005

  1. Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

    • ninjanarmin says:

      Thanks for sharing your story. Your poor daughter — although your story did put a smile on my face at the same time as I felt sorry for your daughter. I hope she has recovered and will give seashells another try soon. 🙂

  2. Afton Hughey says:

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