I find myself on the main bazaar in Paharganj, Delhi, with the sweat trickling steadily off me and the incessant noise of horns blaring out on the street…it’s chaos out there, but all very exciting for an India novice like myself. I ambled down the street yesterday, and thought I was adjusting well to the blinding heat and humidity and to dodging the constant stream of swerving cars, taxis, pedal rickshaws, auto rickshaws, handcarts… but then I got so preoccupied looking at what I was stepping in (you don’t want to know, trust me!) that I was taken unawares by a meandering sacred cow as we met head on. Turning off down the dim side alleys the ferocious noise diminished, replaced by the gleeful giggling of half naked wee kids running around among dogs and chickens, calling “hello!” and wanting to shake my hand.
Everything I had read or heard about Delhi had prepared me for unbelievable hassle and I think that had shaped my expectations to the degree that I can’t get over how easy it is!
As its my last few moments, I’m not keen on being a tourist and avoid any of the main ‘sights’ and simply focus on not getting Delhi belly. I’ve lasted this long without a problem (although recently my diet has consisted of nothing but kracky jacks crackers, mcvities biscuits and bananas. Sugar paradise. I find a popular or POOpular place that serves very authentic southern Indian food. Food I’ve never seen before in my life. Strange dosa’s (giant stuffed crisp wafer pancakes) and many items that I simply couldn’t pronounce. After lunch, my stomach still feels good enough to try some amazing street nuts and fresh pomegranate and later some poor beer and food poisoning esque Thali dish.
But I survive. Stomach of steel. Master of pro bacteria.
Pros: Excellent train metro and International airport. Shopping for tea, spices, rugs, tailor suits, music, books and Indian cuisine.
Cons: So polluted you can see the dirt within hours all over your skin. Crowds and traffic and general chaotic areas. A sense that no one is to be trusted