Happy 4th of July!

Trip Start Feb 12, 2011
Trip End Nov 19, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hotel New King

Flag of India  ,
Monday, July 4, 2011

Delhi is one of those places where you take your morning shower to lower your core temperature. Getting clean is a secondary and equally futile endeavor but with just 18 hours to go, it was the last thing on our minds.  Realizing the error of going 'cheap' in Delhi, Erica insisted that we check out a different hostel before breakfast which proved to be a silly undertaking.  We found ourselves at a palatable semi-new age café overlooking Main Bazaar Street, keeping ourselves busy watching the hippies wander around while we ate cornflakes and drank bad coffee.  I’m amazed at what some people put themselves through in order to get in touch with their chi, and was reminded of our friendly Spanish acquaintance that spent a week doing silent meditation in 110 degree heat. Personally, I would have a more enlightened experience hanging out in Hays, Kansas in the middle of August paying truckers to kick me in the stomach every 30 minutes.

Thankfully, Erica’s seemingly endless store of energy had been depleted and the only thing on our agenda was to pick up a few wish list items and run a couple of errands before our flight.  By lunch-time we had picked up sunglasses, gone to the post office, bought a cord to charge Erica’s kindle, and booked a flight from Dubrovnik to Bordeaux.  Seemingly normal errand running were an overwhelming sensory experience as we fought endless crowds,  cars and their pungent exhaust, and a continuous barrage of beggars, cheats, buskers, grafters, street vendors, wild dogs, children, cripples, rickshaw drivers, taxis, and for the most part, generally friendly Indians.

The streets around the Main Bazaar were a mess of businesses, hostels, houses, and alleys all about six stories tall and covered in signage, dirt, bad electrical wiring, and peeling paint.  The whole place was constantly moving, seemingly 24 hours a day, not unlike a giant pile of maggots amongst rotting food, but hotter and covered in sweat.  Perhaps that’s a bit harsh, as this isn’t meant to be a commentary on the Indian people, but rather a commentary on humanity living in such conditions.  One could argue that London or New York weren’t so different in a time long past.

We had spotted a restaurant across from the train station earlier in the day, and with Erica following her nose we made another lap down the main bazaar and found ourselves out of place in a popular lunch spot for locals.  English wasn’t really spoken, but we had a great view of the main intersection amongst a half dozen rumbling fans in the tiny second floor while locals stared at us.  It would prove to be our last great meal in India, some sort of thali plate with chana masala and all the fixins.  Although the heat can be unbearable, there is something about heating spicy hot food in the humid hotness of places like India.  I guess it feels like you are really getting something done as you finish your meal, wiping the sweat from your brow.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the fourth floor of an air conditioned café drinking tea, overlooking the main square.  I did a little book work, but once my core temperature stabilized I felt the need to get out there and photograph more of the indescribable scenery of the streets of Delhi before nightfall, as I didn’t envision myself coming back anytime soon.  I walked around for about an hour, cruising through a vegetable market, but much like staring at a white screen, or a blank piece of paper, I couldn’t seem to take a photo.  I was overwhelmed by everything and I knew that I didn’t have the skill or the energy to capture what I can’t describe here.  Nearly four months later, I know that like many experiences on this trip, the memories will stay in my head and a place like India can only be experienced to be believed.  Somewhat disappointed in my lack of inspiration, and despite the discomforts, I walked back to the café with a sense of satisfaction for having spent a month in India…In the summer.
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