Finally – in India! (Delhi-Amritsar)

Well it feels good to have finally arrived here after such build up over the last few weeks!  I think after all of the things I have read and heard about India, the first few days haven’t been shocking as much as supremely interesting.  At any given moment on the street, there is a cacophony of sound, colours and shapes whizzing by, strange and not always pleasant smells, and the brush of wind on my skin as rickshaws screech by me.  The train trip from Delhi to Amritsar in the Punjab province, where we are now, was such an education.  The poverty here is really uncomprehensible – we spent long stretches of time looking out the window at people living in shanty tents, their washing, cooking, and defecating done in the open right by the side of the tracks. 

I have really enjoyed every moment so far, even the heat and smells and craziness, because it comes right along with so many smiles, incredible food, and new experiences that are so alien to me.  I don’t really like the pushiness of the people on the streets, but it doesn’t take long to develop a good ‘I’m ignoring you’ face…which seems to do the trick.  We are in the holy town of Amritsar right now, and plan to stay here for a few more days, take in more of the Golden Temple and the festival Deepwali, and then head north, to the cool mountains.  I can’t wait to see what else this country has in store for us!  Hopefully lots more delicious samosas.  mmm… 

– Claire

So, how to describe my first four days in India in a manner that conveys the gravity and shock of the whole situation?  I have filled pages of my journal, but will try to put some of the more tangible differences on paper here.

The India experiance started pretty much right in the Delhi airport.  The hotel had arranged a (very overpriced) driver to collect us from the airport, but thank god for having someone who knew up from down to take us where we needed to go!  The air was hot and muggy and the squat little Delhi taxis were flying through the crowd ready to kill anybody who got in the way.  We retreated to the back of a car and were whisked down a road with 3 lanes at times and 6 at others (but the actual width never changed) to the “hotel” on the Grand Bazar.  And bizaar it was!  I thought we were heading to our deaths as we pulled up, but nope, just another Monday night in Delhi!

The Delhi experiance was less than savory, but was all the same very exciting and throughly enjoyable.  I wouldn’t really call it a holiday destination as 99 out of 100 people (or more) was trying to such you for all you were worth.  You had to be on your guard all the time, but none the less, it was all new and one of the most educational 24 hours of my life!

In this city of pure, unabridged life the basics are paramount.  The search for food and water will keep you busy for days on end, rather than just the hour before a meal.  The locals were in a constant battle with each other and the elements, eating on the streets, sleeping on the streets, and peddling everything from toy helicopters to toilet paper.

Even with the extremes of life in Delhi, little could prepare me for the train ride to Amritsar.  As soon as the train left the station I was shocked by the magnitude and scale of the poverty that existed within the vast and surreal metropolis.  The ghettos consisted of mud huts and makeshift buildings where the basics of life were tended to with putrid green water and and little modesty.  Wow!  Within minutes though we were in the flat and beautiful, if hazy, farm lands that fill most of the northwest of India.  Here life seemed more simple and more tolerable than in the cities.  More normal.

There are some things that come hand in hand with the poverty that are tough to think about, much less mention on a blog, but seeing as this is a note of striking experiances, this one rates high.  From the comfort of my reclined, A/C seat on the train I saw the first, fresh corps of my life.  Lying face down on the train tracks, his head severed and about 10 inches away it was tough to tell if it was a accident or a suicide, but none the less, no one was lifting a finger to call the police or to even move the body to a more discreet location.  He was simply left for the dogs.  Literally.

Not to end on a bad note, but this is getting long winded.  Rest assured that we are safe and for the most part very comfortable in our $8 per night accomidation (large room with 30 foot celings, a vanity, attached bath and private roof top balcony) and even with the total lack of other tourists we are starting to feel quite at home…


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3 Responses to “Finally – in India! (Delhi-Amritsar)”

  1. Amanda says:

    This is for picture #2:

    “…one of these things is not like the other…”

  2. Amanda says:

    Okay, now that I’ve made fun of you a real reply.

    Sounds like your trip is very educational and fun! I’m jealous (that said, I’d just like to point out that both of your mother’s are fun and educational – and if you are by chance reading this Mrs. Gilchrist and Mrs. Wells … hi! I miss you!).

    I’ve started work officially, in my 3rd week. It’s busy at times, boring at times and stressful at times (but not really that often). Mostly, the perks are amazing. Free coffee!! Annnnd, whenever I go to Starbucks I can expense it! It’s pretty good shit.

    I can’t believe you were in Amritsar! I remember reading about the massacre that took place there, but it’s so much different to actually set feet on the same ground!

    How’s travelling together going? I can only assume it has it’s ups and downs but that if anyone could make the best of it, that it would be you two.

    Anyways, I should go, I’m at work and deffinitley should NOT be writing this. But meh, what can you do?

    I miss you and love you tons!

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