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Getting Back to the Roots I’ve Always Disregarded – Delhi – Message #2 – Wednesday, September 7, 2005

on March 18, 2013

And my trip to India continues…I have really enjoyed re-visiting my travel destinations through my old travel babbles. Giving me a serious case of the travel bug, though. Onward.

Okay yeah, two messages in one day…not likely that this will happen often so enjoy it. Juli just showed me the “members’ lounge” for those staying in upgraded rooms. The lounge has free Internet access…wahoo. I best enjoy it in the next 36 hours because after that I am not sure how often I’ll have (reasonably priced) access. Today I paid A LOT for a half-hour of e-time. Oh well…making up for it now.

Also, my travel messages tend to also serve as my travel journal…so feel free to just skim/skip through whatever doesn’t grab ya.

Juli and I had dinner at the hotel and then headed to Delhi Hatt, probably the most popular market in New Delhi. First dinner…hmm, I told many of you that I was looking forward to eating Indian food in India. I may have to take that back. My supper was mutter paneer (cottage cheese and peas) with naan (bread) and raiti (yogurt) and I found the food even too spicy for me! I don’t like mixing yogurt with my spiced food to take away the edge but tonight that was the only option. You know it’s spicy if I’m complaining. (My mouth is still burning!)

Delhi Hatt was pretty cool. There’s an admission fee of 15 rupees which is charged to ensure hassle-free shopping. And by this I mean beggars don’t come into the market and “bother” shoppers. Because I wasn’t really being bothered for most of today, I don’t know how much of a difference I would have seen. However, Juli with her blonde hair, blue eyes, and very fair skin seemed to attract a lot of attention. Juli was stopped by practically every vendor, unless he (or very infrequently, she) happened to notice that I was with Juli, in which case then the vendor pretty much left us to our own devices.

Mom and Dad, you’ll be proud to know that my years of watching Bollywood paid off and I was talking to vendors in Hindi and I even practiced bargaining …what a strange feeling and so not what I would ever do at an Indian store in Canada. I had to constantly ask Juli what I should suggest as a price as I bargained but by the end of our time in the market, I was getting more comfortable with it. As has been my experience with my error-riddled French in Quebec, Indian people also appreciate the effort English-speakers make in terms of communicating in Hindi.

Something else that was pretty neat…we took a taxi to Delhi Hatt and our driver said he’d wait until we were done and then return us to our hotel. I thought it was weird that he didn’t make us pay the one-way fare right away, but he didn’t. I found that to be oddly comforting that in a city of 13 million — and with Juli and I being foreigners — that the taxi driver trusted us ( i.e. didn’t make us clear our tab) and waited around for us (1.5 hours!) So, we gave him a pretty good tip to thank him. What a nice experience.

Many people have told me that India is the country that you immediately love or hate. I am finding that so far, less than 24-hours into my stay here, that India (or maybe Delhi) is full of experiences that will surprise in good ways (like our taxi driver trusting a couple of foreigners) or bad ways (did I mention how scary it is to cross the road?)

Oh yeah, lotsa police and military officers wandering around everywhere. Thank god I work with people who carry guns on a regular basis so I am now somewhat less uncomfortable about the presence of armed personnel. But it is still a bit odd to see rifles everywhere. Even the traffic cops are armed. Then again, driving here is pretty crazy (even as a passenger it is quite scary) and I’ve already whined about pedestrian safety (lack thereof) so maybe it is necessary for traffic cops to be armed. I hope I don’t witness anyone using their weapons. After I sent out my first e-mail I headed back out on my way to walk over to the India Gate (probably only a half hour walk from the hotel) but along the way some cops decided to shut down one road leading to a traffic circle (aka roundabout) and one of the locals told me that pedestrian traffic was also not allowed. So, I had to do a bit of a detour and thankfully I did not get lost (everyone knows my poor sense of direction)…my MEC compass is coming in quite handy. There’s a roundabout just outside our hotel and our room looks down at a park built into that traffic circle. On my way back from my unsuccessful journey to the India Gate, I decided to head into that park and check it out. This morning there were several people having picnics, praying, napping, etc in this park. However, when I finally got into the park (which was a huge ordeal because there are hardly any breaks in traffic so that pedestrians can cross multiple lanes to access the park…) it was a grave disappointment. The park I thought was nice from my hotel room, was actually not that well-kept and there were stray dogs lying in the sun along with a lot of men and only a few women.

Which is another thing…most of the shops and businesses are run by men, the street vendors are mostly men, and it’s mostly men who wander the streets. I guess the women must be at home, rearing the children, preparing the food, cleaning, tending to the elderly, etc, etc. You should be able to hear my frustration as you read this. I did see some women shopping in the market earlier today…probably buying cloth to make clothing for the children or buying vegetables for tonight’s supper. 😦

Tomorrow I am taking a tour of New and Old Delhi. I have decided that I am not brave enough to try visiting Old Delhi by myself and also the tour I’m booked into is led by an English-speaking guide. Which isn’t really as necessary now that I am finding I understand the Hindi spoken by most people here. I was expecting it to be quite a bit different from the Bollywood version and there are phrases or words I only understand in gist but so far I am getting on fine. Juli and I have taken to conversing in French when we discuss prices and such so every so often I get my languages mixed up and end up thinking in Spanish. That’s the crappy part of knowing enough to get by in three or four langauges and trying to limit my use of English. By the time I get home I’m sure I’ll need remedial training in English…I am already catching myself speaking in broken English (“No, we just bought” when someone asks if we would like to look at an item we just purchased elsewhere or “How much that?” Maybe I’ll be talking Yoda-like soon…”Bought that, I just did.”)

Okay, on that delirious note, I will sign off. Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying living vicariously…




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