Arriving in India for the first time!! I had heard so much about India from friends and fellow travellers. Some rave about it, whereas others were put off by the sight of poverty just off the airport. INDIA: LOVE IT or HATE IT.
Delhi was my first stop in India. This buzzing city has a lot to offer. As the capital of the country, there is quite a variety of people and food from all over this diverse subcontinent.
This is a hectic and overpopulated city. There are always hordes of people everywhere, especially in the markets and narrow alleys in the city centre.
One of the things that first strike you is the sheer number of festivals, processions, religious celebrations or gatherings of every kind that you come across in India. It just adds to how colourful India is. Music, displays of colour, sometimes religious images, and always lots of people.
Other Indian sight that would be inconceivable in developed countries are the streets themselves. Walking down the dirty street, there can be in just 5 metres around you, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, rickshaws, autorickshaws (tuk-tuk), cows walking slowly, children playing, a guy releasing incense, and so many other things. Actually, it is impossible to assimilate everything that’s going on around you, it’s too much. A festival of the senses. They all seem to share the public space remarkably well, no matter how chaotic the situation gets.
There is a variety of animals making their way, seemingly undisturbed, amongst the crowd. The most visible are the cows, wildly respected by everybody. There are also lots of stray dogs and, what I hated the most, monkeys. Occasionally, you see the rare camel, like this one below, walking on the street, or the odd elephant driven through the street, that everybody helps to feed.
I will expand on animals in subsequent posts, I also did a bit of sightseeing in Delhi. One of the best known landmarks is the Red Fort. The whole exterior wall is made of sandstone, which gives this building its distinctive colour.
In Delhi I also had the chance to meet a new generation of young wealthy Indians. They only speak English (apparently fancier than Hindi) when they go out to fashion clubs. The first questions are always: “What do you do?” and “Where do you live?”, like clearly aimed at knowing if the person comes from a ‘good’ background. However, looking European, I was quite exempt from their scrutiny. They also remark immodestly how successful they are in their careers/businesses in their 20s and how good qualifications they have. My impression -again this is just a first impression from someone who’s been there just a few weeks, I might be wrong- was that this wealthy Indians are snobbish and disregard poor people in their own country. Or as one of them put it to me: ‘Delhi is a show-off’.
Delhi is also the transport hub for the North of India and actually all around the country. From there I could take my trains/buses to Rajasthan, Punjab and Agra. Keep telling you about that in the next posts.