India

Trip Start Sep 26, 2004
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2
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Trip End Jan 15, 2005


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Saturday, October 2, 2004

October 2, 04

Greetings from Delhi!
This is a hot and crowded city. I am staying near the train station right in the middle of the main bazaar. Besides being hot and crowded, Delhi has a distinct odor. When I got to the airport late at night, it smelled like something was burning. It still smells that way, and you can see the layers of smoke and smog over the city. Delhi has a lot to offer, but it will be nice to get out in the country. On my first full day in the city I did a mini tour with a motorcycle rickshaw. Traffic is constant, and everywhere. Horns are always blaring at other cars, busses, trucks, bicycle rickshaws, people and animals. Cows roam freely through the streets. Being holy animals, I guess it is their right. Several wandered down the main bazaar today just looking around. This also adds to the odor of the city in an even less appealing way. I saw what I'm sure will not be the last snake charmer. He had two cobras, and they rose out of the basket and swayed back and forth to his movements. Interesting to see up close, but I'm sure the snake would like to be doing other things besides being tormented on a daily basis. He tried to sell me a picture of the snakes, and then tried to sell me his flute. I accepted neither offer.
Lots of stray and starving animals in Delhi. So far the street begging hasn't been a real problem, but I have only just arrived. I'm sure it will get worse. Delhi is huge with lots to see, but I think I'll be heading out a little earlier than planned.
I knew I would see some elephants on this trip, but not as soon as I did. Last night while walking in the bazaar I saw a man riding a rather large elephant. The animal just plodded along the street while being ridden by a man who seemed to not be in a hurry to get wherever he was going. People didn't seem to be bothered by it's presence, but I crossed the street. Being bumped by a rickshaw is one thing, being stepped on by an elephant is another. There were a few cattle eating garbage from the streets. Some of the shopkeepers leave greens out for them, and unfortunately as I mentioned earlier, they leave something behind for the rest of us. Stray dogs are around also. Most are in very bad shape. Ribs showing, and covered in sores. They spend most of the time with noses to the ground trying to find something to eat.
There was a disturbance today near the intersection of the Delhi train station and the bazaar. All I saw was a crowd gathered and two policeman with their clubs out. I have learned not to hang around trouble in foreign countries. It is something you don't need to be anywhere near. I took one look and got out of there.
One more night here and then a 6 a.m. train to the pink city of Jaipur.

I'm in Jaipur for a few days before heading to Agra and the Taj Mahal. There is a lot to see here, so I'll do a city and outskirts tour tomorrow. The train ride here was interesting. The amount of people in and around Delhi is staggering. They are everywhere, all the time. I walked to the station at 05:30 and half the shops were already open for business. The train station seems to be always crowded. People sleep all over the place. Some live at the station in horrible conditions. The shack villages start at the end of the main building and stretch for miles. There are also tent communities mixed in once you get a little out of the city. Most of the structures are wood and brick with a plastic sheet for a roof. There are mud brick dwelling also, but they are further out. At 6:30 there was an assembly line of workers mixing mud, straw and water to make more huts. About an hour outside the city, agriculture takes over the landscape. These villages are better constructed with multilevel concrete and brick homes. The tent villages here are dispersed between the fields of crops.
Animals of all kinds could be seen along the tracks. Cattle, water buffalo, goats, pigs, and many working camels. Most of the camels were pulling carts full of crops or supplies. I even saw a few monkeys running around. I took a first class train today. After three nights in Delhi, I felt it was appropriate.
Breakfast and drinks were served during the 5 hour ride. All for under $9. Not bad. I usually opt for second or third class, but it was in the mid 80's when I got up at 05:00, so a/c seemed like a good idea. More next week....................
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