So, it's taken me a few days to post anything about India because I needed some time to absorb everything. And the verdict is - so far, I love India. Go figure. As Chris mentioned in his post, I had some shortcomings at first. I think it had to do with the fact that we had to wait on the tarmac for about an hour when we first landed because it was drizzling outside. In the safe confines of the plane, I was a little afraid that I could already smell the city. Luckily, Chris had arranged for a hotel that picked us at the airport so we arrived unscathed. The hotel was nice, except that the hot water promised was freezing cold.
I don't know what got into us, but instead of resting our first day in India, after 20 hours of flying, we decided to take the one day steroid tour of Delhi in a cab. Just being a passenger in a cab in Delhi is an adventure. At every turn you are avoiding a rickshaw, bus that says "Please Honk" or cow! I guess I know now why everyone honks, because the bumpers ask them to, also because if they don't they will all crash into each other. The lines for lanes of traffic are a mere suggestion, not something to be followed.
The best part about our drive around Delhi was that after about five hours and many near misses of running into anything you can imagine, we noticed signs that read "Road Safety Week." If everyone was really trying their best to drive safely, then all I have to say is I can't wait to be in Delhi when it isn't road safety week!
RED FORT and GANDHI'S MEMORIAL
Around Delhi we saw the sights including the Red Fort, Jama Masjid (mosque), Chandni Chowk (market), Gandhi's memorial, and other various ruins. Needless to say we were exhausted before we saw all of the sites and politely asked our driver to take us for some chai and not go to the Lotus Temple, our next stop. We really thought that our communication skills were working and that we would soon be in a safe chai haven, alas, our driver proceeded to the Lotus Temple anyway and took us to a chai truck. Think taco truck with grade "D." We were troopers though, drank the chai up and finally communicated that we just wanted to go back to the hotel.
At this point, you might be thinking, but Katie, you said that you loved India. What is there to love? Delhi, with all of its smells that I can't even begin to describe on this page, and wouldn't want to, amazed me because it is so alive. Even walking through the market my senses were overcome, some good and some bad. In the midst of the chaos, there were some of the most beautiful cloth being sold. People were a little pushy, but for the most part would leave you alone. One funny note here is that I learned that Chris and I have a TOTALLY different view on how to walk through a crowd. I walk through on a mission not to make eye contact, to check things out and get to a destination. I consider myself successful if all the unsavory characters avoid me. Chris, on the other hand, likes the people to approach him and talk to him, even if just so he can say "No, I don't want anything you have to offer. Why do you keep asking me when I say no?" He likes to mingle with everyone and get the flavor of the place that way.
I don't want to write too much more because my mother warned me against having too high of a word to picture ratio. I just want to say that now we've made the trek up to McLeod Ganj, Indian home of the Dali Lama. It is so beautiful up here as you hopefully can see from some of the pictures. It is the complete opposite of Delhi - quite, small, clean and very friendly. I already enjoyed a wonderful two hour yoga class with meditation this morning. This town truly is the reason that I love India so far. We are only here for a few days, but already I feel like its a place I could come back to. One thing that continues to crack me up here and in Delhi is the American music everywhere. We were greeted by Christmas carols and at a great coffee shop here the first two things songs I heard were J Lo and Justin Timberlake. Good to know everyone around the world can bring sexy back. Also, as my friend Ryan pointed out the English translations can be hilarious. The Buddhist temple by the Dali Lama compound instructs you to "circumambulate" the correct way. I'm not quite sure that we did what we were supposed to do, but we followed the arrows.
Until next time... lots of love!
PS - Chris is doing a post right now too. We'll see how they compare.