The Real India Experience
August 26, 2005
After escaping from the meditation camp, we wanted to get out of Chennai ASAP, so we got on a flight to Delhi the next morning. We are enjoying ourselves a lot more here. This is a much more tourist-friendly area than we were in before...although that isn't saying much. Walking through the crowded streets is still a challenge here.
Travelling through India definitely does not count as a relaxing vacation. India is in your face everywhere you go. It is an assault on all of your senses at once. Your nose is bombarded by a variety of smells from nice Indian curries and incense to vile smells of air pollution, urine, and cow patties (Cows are sacred in the Hindu religion and they roam the streets freely here...which is a strange site). While trying not to step in said cow patties (or any of the spit or trash on the ground), you have to constantly be alert to avoid being run over by the manic auto and cycle-rickshaws zipping through the crowds. It's hard to miss the rickshaws, though, since they make liberal use of their ear-splitting horns. Meanwhile, you are constantly being haggled by every single person you walk past to buy some piece of crap. These people are remarkably persistent, saying no or ignoring them completely has no effect whatsoever. Finally, you have the constant stream of decrepit beggars asking for your change. All of this combines to make the average walk down the street an intense, and at times rather trying, experience.
If I had one word to describe India, it would have to be dirty. The next word that comes to mind is poverty. It is hard to imagine the living conditions that the majority of the people here have to endure. For the most part, personal hygiene seems to be a foreign concept. Also, many aspects of common decency and respect seem to be missing but that may just be a byproduct of the harsh living conditions.
On the bright side, everything is dirt cheap here. We have been stocking up on cheap souveniers and eating like royalty for about $3-4 US. Our favorite is still the butter chicken and naan, but most of the Indian food has been good so far. While it is definitely still challenging, we are becoming more acclimated to India and have started to develop a necessary callousness to the haggling.
Random note - Pepsi seems to be more popular than Coke here. This is the only country I've seen that before.
Posted by tim at August 26, 2005 12:08 PM