16th October 2018, Wednesday
My first destination was New Dehli. It was a long journey which involved 2 flights, a train and a whole lot of waiting. However, I didn’t mind it that much. It was the beginning of my trip. I was extremely nervous yet very excited. Finally, I’m going to a completely different land, far away and I wondered what I would find. Sleeping was the last thing on my mind.
With a name such as NEW Delhi, you’d expect a much more modern, sophisticated and cleaner city. Well, think again. The sights of heavy traffic and congestion is what welcomed me when I first stepped into the city. Everyone honking while passing each other on bikes and auto rickshaws with only a few millimetres to spare. Street lanes weren’t a thing, traffic signs were non-existent and pedestrian crossings were just for decoration. The sun was barely visible and the air barely breathable. You could spend an hour waiting to cross the road and no one would ever stop, except maybe to try and rip you off.
I expected to just walk to my hostel since it was pretty close on the map, but there was a lot of hassle going on. So I asked around the place and I managed to ask the completely wrong people. Never trust an Indian looking Mr. T with a bunch of homeless people running around. He made me go on a tuktuk to this place where I can get some bullshit “safety permit” to pass through because of some bullshit excuse like malaria. I naively accepted and climbed on the back of the tuktuk. Safety is definitely not first in India. Tuktuk drivers drive through traffic as if the road was theirs. At first I though my driver was crazy. He passed from other vehicles and people (and livestock) with only but a few millimetres to spare. Then I realized that everyone was driving in this manner. It was New Delhi after all. I heard the stories and they’re all true. Apparently, it’s worth losing your life
to arrive at your destination .
The driver dropped me off to this totally legit tourist information centre which he insisted was approved by govt, whatever that meant. They told me that the street was closed due to the festival activities in the area and I couldn’t get to my booked hostel. It was all an elaborate ruse to make me pay for expensive hotel and get a relatively large sum of money as commission. I had no way of contacting my hostel to validate what he was saying as I tried to make a phone call but I had no reception, no internet, and the guy refused to give me the wifi password. After what felt like hours of one-sided negotiations and sweet-talking from his end, I was tired and honestly I didn’t want to stay in New Delhi after this hectic experience. So, in the end, I payed for an expensive trip to North Rajasthan, just to get out of New Delhi as soon as I can before night fall.
In hindsight, starting my trip in one of the most polluted cities of India was definitely not one of my brightest ideas. And there I was, in the back of a taxi with the driver’s friend telling me in broken English how the driver is a very good man for being payed to drive me to the train station between cows and camels in the middle of rush hour, so I could give him a tip.
My planned 5-day stay in New Delhi quickly diminished to 6 hours as I decided to leave abruptly. The chaos of India’s capital was too much to handle for my first day.
Instead, I decided to leave for Jaipur with low spirits and even lower expectations. However that quickly changed as I met two Spanish travellers on the train who told me about their adventure so far and how plans change constantly on a whim. Now, that I met someone who was not ceaselessly gawking at my skin colour or trying to offer me a reproduction of the sensations that Paul Walker must have felt in Too Fast Too Furious, my excitement was back on, and I wasn’t disappointed.