6 thoughts after 6 weeks in India

  1. Delhi is like that guy you’re super into on the first date… until you go on a second date and realize he’s actually loud and obnoxious and maybe you were just kind of drunk the first time. You avoid him until you inevitably run into him at a party and discern that he’s not so bad afterall and somewhat charming in his own right. You decided to let bygones be bygones and become friends —well, the kind of friends that see each other infrequently, in small doses and purely out of necessity. My first day in Delhi was amazing. I wanted to explore every crevasse of the city and eat everything and talk to everyone. This was because I was in South Delhi, which has a mere fraction of North Delhi’s intensity. On day two I walked out of a North Delhi metro station to the most congested, overstimulating, filthy street I’ve ever been on. I could barely move, and when I did I was hounded by street vendors and tuk tuk drivers. One guy followed me on his bicycle taxi for twenty minutes. Twenty minutes. All the way to my destination (without getting paid — not a great business model). I couldn’t wait to leave. I returned to break up the trip to Varanasi a few weeks later and found it wasn’t that bad. I even ended up staying two extra days. I’ll return once again in April before flying to Europe, so I’ll keep you posted on our relationship’s progress.
  2. I’ve been eating non-naan bread my whole life. The naan bread served in US Indian restaurants is more like chapati. If you don’t know, chapati is the erryday bread Indians eat while naan is eaten ~once/week and on special occasions. And it tastes like heaven. I did a very thorough investigation of their differences and discovered we are totally getting jipped of this celestial real naan experience back home. I think the owner of Little India and I are going to have a chat upon my return.
  3. The roads are a giant game of Chicken. There are absolutely no traffic laws in India. It basically works like this: the fastest vehicle has the right of way. Sometimes the most agile… and on few occassions the one that honks the loudest/is the most annoying. There are lanes running in each direction, but they are more of a suggestion. When crossing the road by foot you don’t wait because 1. there are no traffic lights 2. there are never not vehicles 3. literally no one is going to stop for you. Best to pick a moment when you have a decent shot of not becoming roadkill and go for it. Don’t hestitate or stop or show weakness, because they can totally smell fear. Note: this only applies to vehicles, not cows (as told by a person head butted by a cow twice).
  4. India is full of cool kids. There is now a subsection of the place in my heart that houses travel friends that is reserved for those met in India. These people are so interesting and brilliant and full on badasses. Many of them are true, lifelong backpackers and all complete lovers of travel. There are no “I went to Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower!” stories told in the common areas of Indian hostels. More like, “so we’re on this boat trying to cross into Saudi, right? And everyone has machetes and doesn’t speak a lick of English…”
  5. Anything is possible. But that’s not the slogan of India. It’s actually “that es not possible, madame”. You’ll hear it everyday. You want to take the night train? Sorry, it’s full. You want to stay at that hostel? Nope, it’s totally booked. You want to go inside a temple? Oops, it’s closed today. But intestingly enough when you flash a couple pieces of paper with Ghandi’s face on them, everyone is singing a different tune. Suddenly anything is possible — for the price of approximately 100–200 rupees. Also sometimes crying works (refer once again to missed train situation).
  6. India is a place you really miss once you leave. This isn’t my own original thought. It was said by a friend as we were trying to navigate the non-marked streets (aka alleyways) of Varanasi in the pitch dark; hopping from rock to rock to avoid sewer water and Betel spit and animal droppings. Yeah, maybe, I thought. But there is a strange comfort in the chaos, and its energy and authenticity is undeniable. I can now attest that yes, you really do miss it… even while sitting in a max chill cafe in beautiful Nepal. I’m already looking forward to many future trips and exploring more of the amazing country that is India.

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