India is a place of over stimulants. Nothing here is discreet. I guess with approximately 2 billion people it just isn’t reasonable to ask for some space or quiet. As soon as we were getting off the plane (and keep in mind this isn’t even outside, just the connecting tube from the plane to the airport) all I smelled was shit. No word of a lie or an over exaggeration of any sort. I already knew what was coming so it wasn’t exactly a surprise, but I’m sure the other girls didn’t expect that, nor did they expect what else was to come their way.
Delhi at night is fairly quiet but packed with trucks going out of the city because they aren’t allowed to travel through during the day. We did hear the occasional honk (more than we would back in Canada) but nothing close to what we would hear during the day. So when we did wake the next day to all the honking and hollering, I was none too responsive, the girls however seemed to be fascinated. They wanted to go exploring and take in everything the city had to offer. I wasn’t reluctant, but being experienced in they ways of India I didn’t feel the same intrigue they did. When we finally did get the chance to walk around by ourselves, it was quite…interesting. First the smell of the city was ripe. There is no other way of explaining or describing it. The scent is rich of everything you can imagine. Heavy smells of food, people and of course as mentioned earlier shit! It’s as if there is a sewer at your feet, which actually just may be. You see men in India don’t care where they use the washroom, if they gotta go, well then they just go. A street corner or a wall of a building can be turned into a make shift urinal for them. Because this is India and it is a literal dumping ground.
Also every which way we turned people would be looking our way and gawking at the “gori ladkis” (white girls). Of course Delhi gets it’s fair share of tourists from various countries, but the people will still stare no matter what. Maybe it’s just an Indian thing because I’ve experienced the same thing when I’m by myself and not only in India but by Indians in Canada (which makes no sense to me). Along with the gawking came the endless begging and harassment by the auto drivers. Each one of them wanted to drive us to the markets or take us to the sites yadda yadda. So the phrase “nahi shukriya!” (No thank you!) was quickly adopted by all three of us. The begging on the other hand was heart breaking. I won’t go into too many details on this topic because there will be a whole different entry dedicated for this topic alone (you can only imagine what that means).
The market itself was a treat. We went out in the blistering heat because we were slightly bored and again wanted to explore our nearby surroundings. We were told by a few people that we were staying amidst a well known shopping district and if we wanted anything we need only walk a few minutes over to find it. So we listened and walked over. Walking in Indian heat is no easy feat. Walk two minutes and you’re already drenched in sweat. As a person who doesn’t sweat easily, it was a very weird to feel the beads of sweat rolling down my face and neck. At first I didn’t even realize what it was until I started feeling the wetness on my shirt. The beads fell like drops of rain and collected as a pool in the small of my back and the bridge of my chest. Immediately I wanted to shower but on we went. The market was pretty cool. A huge collection of street vendors selling everything from clothes to electronics. Anything a person could possibly need could have been found there. I can’t say much about the quality of the items, but regardless, they could be found. The different stalls had such an array of colours for everything. Dresses in beautiful reds, pinks, oranges, yellow, silver, gold, white, purples. Any colour you can imagine could have been found at least once. We walked by one upscale wedding store that had some beautiful “lehengas” (a shirt and skirt combo) made specially for brides in gorgeous maroons and reds with incredible and detailed beadwork. There were kind of hats (don’t know what the proper term) and “joothis” (shoes) for the grooms to wear that were also decked out in beads and sequins. Everything in the store looked like someone had allowed a five year old to go bezerk with a bedazzler (except for the fact that instead of looking gaudy it was all beautiful).
We walked up and down the street once, having found a few knick knacks that each of us wanted to pick up we were ready to head back. The girls weren’t used to all the attention from the vendors. Each and everyone of them hollering for us to come over and look at their pile of junk. There must have been tens of men stopping us every two minutes to look at a replica of Ray Bans that according to them were “asali” (real) and in their words “very nice” and “very cheap”. The continuous pestering was utterly exasperating and irksome. About 10 minutes of being in the market and we all had our “bitch faces” on. There was no more smiling at the vendors or people, just complete ignorance to the fact that they were trying to get our attention. Maybe this is why most Indians never crack a smile, because they’re so used to having to keep that mask on to ward off unwelcome strangers. I guess if I permanently lived here, I too would have an impenetrable facade to keep randoms at bay. Also the constant beeping and honking of the cars and motorcycles was also quite annoying. Cars don’t only honk when someone is in the way (which is all the time, since people just walk into the middle of the road without fear), but also to let others know they’re coming? It’s a weird concept and just the way things are done around here, but it really does work for them. We too had to walk right into the street or we would have been stuck on one side forever. There’s no respect for pedestrians to I guess pedestrians in return give no respect to drivers. A mutually ignorant relationship.
Getting back to the hotel room was a slight relief. I could finally wash off the filth of the city that clung to my clothes, hair and seeped into my pores. Even washing my hands I could see how much dirt had been trapped on my skin. The water turning a pale brown showed me the conditions of the city. Going out for an hour and not hardly touching anything and still being that filthy is absolutely unacceptable. Washing my hands wasn’t enough for me, I had to shower (and still do) at least twice a day to feel remotely clean and fresh. The combination of all the smells around the city in combination with my sweaty skin and clothes is not a great one. Alex kept complaining that her feet wreaked and kept powdering them which was hilarious, but to her defence neither Caelen nor I actually smelled anything. So we were all having issues with feeling clean but having the ability to actually shower was a great.
The only welcome stimulant to our senses would be that of the food to our taste buds. India may have its faults but no one can say that Indian’s don’t know how to cook or eat. Everything here is jam packed with flavour and spices and more flavour. An Indian could be asked to make a simple meal with the most basic ingredients, but will somehow manage to make it mouthwatering. I unfortunately have not been gifted in such a way. I can make a mockery out of mac and cheese … from a box. I clearly don’t have the domestic gene. We tried so much of everything and there was not one dish that was just “ok”. I was so worried that the girls wouldn’t be able to handle the food or maybe they would have tummy troubles because of the spices, but they did a whole heck of a lot better than I imagined. Every meal has been delicious and tasty and I haven’t felt an unnecessary craving once. In Canada I have irrational cravings for junk way more often than I do here. It could be because of I’m getting all the nutrients I need from the healthy and fresh food that I eat here as opposed to all the crappy genetically modified food that is sold in Canada. Or perhaps its the fact that in Canada the advertisements for junk are EVERYWHERE and here I don’t see one single golden arch. Either way, I’m completely satisfied with all the meals that we’re being fed. The fresh fruits and vegetables have so much zest and actual flavour again in comparison with the fruits and vegetables in Canada that are over grown and completely tasteless. The chicken here are hilariously tiny paralleling to the chicken in canada or the U.S that have been so pumped up with steroids that they’re about 3 or 4 times the size of what a real chicken should be. And of course the little ones here taste so much better and are so much healthier for us. As usual I’m getting so off topic…
I’ll stop rambling on and on about things and come to a summation.
Yes India is a nation of over stimuli. Everything and everyone is up in your face and don’t give a rat’s ass. The stink in the city is against nature itself and the people are in no hurry to change their habits to make the situation better. The horns honk, the bells ring, the cars screech, the people yell, the kids scream, the dogs howl, the trains yowl, the phones shriek and yet all we can do is walk through it and hope to make it out alive.