48 Hour day
Trip Start Feb 03, 2010
56Trip End Jul 09, 2010
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Arrived in Delhi after a very long haul – Guelph to Toronto to London (8 hrs) then a 6 hour layover in London, met up with Carolyn and we had a 7.5 hour flight to Delhi. Arrived in Delhi at 4:15 am then waited for over an hour in line at customs. We were really hoping we could find her friend Paul in the airport as we had been so delayed. Thankfully his happy face was waiting for us as we emerged into the throng of people waiting on the other side of the doors. My first sight of India was a throng of cabs and tuk tuks lined up in the early morning Delhi Street. The air was cold and crisp, the sun had just started to rise, and the 30 hours of travelling fatigue was gone in an instant. I was in India and already it was apparent it was different.
Paul had brought with him his friend Vinay and they excitedly told us of the car crash they had had about one hour previous. They were on their way to Delhi from their home village, about three hours away, and had T- boned another vehicle. The car we were in had a fair bit of front end damage but luckily, was drivable.
As we entered Delhi, the sun started to rise over the city, and with a backdrop of polluted haze, the city really did look special. The traffic was reasonable until we got closer . It didn’t take long before we entered streets clogged with developing morning markets: Everyone was going somewhere – by bus, tuk tuk, donkey, bicycle, camel or in trucks. People were crammed everywhere – in buses and trucks and on buses and trucks. Travelling on the roof of vehicles in obviously very common here. Traffic snaked its way through the streets and bottlenecked at places where cows stood their ground on the road, refusing to even acknowledge the symphony of horns. Sacred cows everywhere. Standing, laying – singularly or in herds, eating garbage. It was great and it was obvious we weren’t in Kansas anymore!
I tried to relate it to other places I have been and my first thoughts were of Cairo without the minuets, cross bred with Saigon or Hanoi for the randomness and volume of the traffic and a touch of Phenom Penn for the piles of garbage everywhere and Panama City for the horn honking. Considering I had just come from the Caribbean and the beauty of Barbados, St. Kitts, Tortola, Antigua, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, the sights, the sounds and the smells were assaultive and I knew right away I was going to love it here.
We ended up looking for a hotel room only to decide it would probably be better if we could push through the day and stay up until dark, with the hopes of normalizing our sleep patterns and not falling victim to the dreaded jet lag. The sleep all day and awake all night, curse.
We made it into the late afternoon and ended up at Vinay’s house in the suburbs. He lives with his family – wife, mother and two sons and their domestic help (lots of them), in a gated community outside of Delhi. Lovely family, lovely house, lovely neighborhood – what luck!
We dropped our stuff off there, headed downtown, back into the wild traffic, to meet a third friend of Paul’s. Baldeep is a world renowned photographer who was celebrating his last day of work at the India Times (the Time magazine of India) where he had been both a photographer and reporter for many many years. He had accepted a fulltime position with Time magazine (US version) to be the India correspondent and will share his time between Delhi and New York. He has worked for many magazines including National Geographic and has covered the Afghani and Iraqi wars and is a celebrity in Delhi. His celebrity is not from the mag media, it is from his art work of which he has a book coming out – what a delightful guy. Even though we were in hour 48 of wakefulness, we decided to seize the opportunity to go to a concert of some guy who played with John Lennon and everyone else famous. Being a music moron, I, of course, had no idea who he was but I was promised the concert would change my life….. the four of us – Baldeep, Paul, Carolyn and I (Vinay went home) headed off to the concert only to find that it was the next night. We went over to Baldeep’s house – met the family and had a great evening just talking about worldly things. After a few hours we headed back to Vinay’s where we spent our first night in India. What a long long perfect day.
When I write this it sounds like you just go over to here and there…..in Delhi, the city is huge. 35 million or so and very very spread out and the traffic is unlike anything I have ever seen. Getting from point A to point B involves a professional driver rally racing through the streets, honking continuously. No regular people drive themselves – you have a driver or you take a cab. Too wild for your average driver.
If Day 1 in India is any indication of the future – the future is good.