happnin' london to delhi, india - culture shock all round

Yolanda’s bit
21.11.99 Sunday. Been 2 weeks packing my flat, only got to do our rucksacks about an hour before leaving. Last quick bye-bye from the spanish crew and rush lift to Heathrow. My body and mind dropped off completely at that point. Dropped dead on the flight, though uncomfortable, I did manage 4 hours out of 8 all curled up on my own.

Delhi airport was not much of a shock. We let the guys rip us off for the taxi to the hotel Metropolis in the main Bazaar. There was a nice rooftop restaurant. Few hours siesta on a deafening background of continuous horning, animals crying, people shouting and spitting, and the solid sunny smoke atmosphere filters through everything. At dusk we stroll along the main bazaar in a daze, jetlag and under shock, being pushed around and caught in the middle of people-animal-rickshaws-bikes-cars jam. It’ll take a few days to get acclimatized and to stop looking astonished. Everybody is hassling us, want this, buy that. Blurry headache. Dinner back at safe rooftop restaurant and sleep for a day.

Dawn hours are most noisy of all. Building next to us collapsed and made the hotel shake – highlight in the usual horning, shouting, crying,…

22.11.99 Monday. After hearty breakfast at rooftop – with an astonished waiter looking at the little Vaio (heh heh) we take a more awake walk in the bazaar checking prices, warming up for merciless bargaining. First rickshaw trip (from 50 Rs got it down to 10 Rs!) to Connaught Place shopping circular area. Shops, shops, very westernized city center, not much interest. Back in the bazaar we visit that friendly café where the owner shows us his photo albums of friends.

I feel pretty relaxed. I want to head north soon though. Miles’s been grumpy so far but he’s getting better.

Talked to a young group at the rooftop attracted by little Vaio. Easy way to make friends. We’ll have to get used to that.

Checked out email places. They don’t know what ftp is. Still looking for a case for little Vaio. Back in the room, realize we’ve got the wrong power transformers. No power, no computer. Shit!

23.11.99 Tuesday. Around 6am we were woken up by 3 fiery rounds of shots –what kind of war is going on in Delhi at the moment or is it some kind of local Mafia vendetta - in big contrast to Krishna chants just the previous nights (muuuuu!, says a cow just outside the hotel room with a grid instead of window). Got out in daylight and hired a motor rickshaw for the day with the idea of getting out of the bazaar and visiting a few places. We ended up doing half "Pablo’s" tour, half ours, which was not bad. 2km of massive Mughal era Red fort then Jama Masjid – the largest mosque in India. In new Delhi we are taken to see India Gate –Arc De Triumph kind of thing-, the monumental President’s house with the Parliament and all the ministries houses along a horse riding path. Imperialist style. We can’t avoid being taken to a tourist office where they want to sell us a ridiculous package for 3 days to places we don’t want to go pretending is our only way to get to where we do want to go, just for £90!

Then we can’t help being taken to a shari shop of 1500 Rs each with all the fluffing around "western woman being shown the way to wear a Shari by knowing Indian man, while boyfriend is being taken away somewhere else to be dressed as Ghandi, all respectable to receive the Dalai lama". I grabbed Miles away as he was going to buy it for 800 Rs with a blissful expression on his face.

Back to main bazaar we find the power converter we need. Then have huge Indo-Italian drunch at rooftop.

Miles’s bit
After 2 days of frantic packing and preparing and running around we were ready on Saturday afternoon by 6 O’clock, 4 ½ hours until take off. It all went pretty smoothly with no hitches really, apart from the missing door key and going to the wrong terminal at Heathrow. We boarded the totally booked 747 flight and tried to settle down and calm our nerves on the 8 hour flight to Delhi.

I didn’t sleep a wink, however hard I tried I couldn’t find a comfortable position. It didn’t seem that long until we were flying over a huge desert that turned out to be the Pakistan/India border.
We arrived, breezed through Immigration and customs and were then traditionally ripped off with our taxi to the city… that was when I had my first feelings of shock.

Chugging along in a Taxi styled in the 50’s weaving through traffic of packed out busses and deathwish motorcyclists.Its quite common for a family of 4 to all travel on the same moped!! Oh, and also there is no visual method of indicating your maneuvers, its all done with the horn, which makes it all very very noisy all of the place all of the time.

We got to the hotel and promptly went to sleep for nearly 2 days. Did a few visits around the city but we want to get out soon, head up to the North for a bit. It’s so noisy. I’m fed up being hassled all the time and of saying no to everything. No Rikshaw, no one rupee, no buy drum, no want something else, no no no, "JUST LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!" I feel like shouting. I might get a T-shirt printed with just the word "NO" in large letters on the front. Oh, and there are lots of cows wondering the streets. They seem to know their way around quite well.