A milestone and a guest postPosted: September 6, 2011
I have two things to celebrate at the moment.
The first is receiving over 1000 hits from all you awesome readers. I actually sat there and hit refresh until the counter ticked over. Sad I know but some days you take the small victories. Thank you all for your interest in my writing, please feel free to leave comments.
The second thing I’m celebrating is meeting up with my good buddy Sam in Delhi. After three months on my own it’s fantastic to have someone to share experiences with.
Sam has just started a blog of his own, memoirsofthemisled and, by way of a launch, decided to do a guest post for me. Thanks buddy. I hope you enjoy his writing as much as I do. Without further ado I present Sam’s welcome to India:
Despite a prolonged evening of drinking and only two hours of sleep I managed to struggle my way to Cape Town airport to board the first of three flights that were to carry me to India. I even managed to feel a sense of excitement that was only momentarily curbed when passing the duty free alcohol shelves that flooded me with memories of sinister Long Island Ice Teas that had plagued me only hours earlier.
A few movies and some in-flight Indian fare made the flights bearable but still my body craved a comfy bed, a blue Powerade, and sleep.
My arrival at Delhi airport and my subsequent introduction to it’s metro system was also a pleasant and pain free experience. Well polished floors, helpful personnel and well sign-posted directions (in English) eased my way into the city. Fellow travelers I’ve previously met have always spoken quite harshly of the initial assault Delhi has on your senses. Well, if Delhi is an acquired taste I was extremely chuffed to have developed this taste within half an hour of arriving.
How naive and intuitively misled I’d let myself be. My guard was down and I was relaxed; still hungover but relaxed. The final escalator out from the safety of the New Delhi Station metro ascended me slowly to street level; a street level that had me completely surrounded and instantly and aggressively ambushed my senses. My nose was confronted by musky urinal scents, my eyes couldn’t seem to focus on any of the millions of things happening in front of me and my ears were harassed by horns, touts, and general awful traffic upheaval.
“Hello, Sir. Where are you from? Where is your hotel? I take you!”
This is what I was assaulted by constantly from tens and tens of auto rickshaw drivers and touts. After the umpteenth time I gave in, threw my backpack in the backseat and negotiated Rs20 (1 Rupee = 38 NZD). Driving here is another story in itself. Road rules are something that either don’t exist or are not enforced. Either way my journey to my hostel was a series of near death experiences strewn together by the constant obnoxious orchestra of horns and screaming (not only my own).
After 10 minutes of speeding along the thin line of life and death the rickshaw screeched to a halt and the driver turned around to me and politely told me:
“Sir, you go in and sort hotel, and train, and bus.”
“No mate, this isn’t my hotel. I have a reservation at Hotel Namaskar. Take me there now or I don’t pay.”
“But sir, you need to go sort it out in here.”
“No I don’t. I’m meeting a friend at Hotel Namaskar and need to go there now.”
“Ok sir, no problem.”
Another 10 minutes zig-zagging through another thousand obstacles the rickshaw halted and told me that this was far as he could take me and that I had to walk down the Main Bazar to get to the hotel (which I’d now realised was only 300m and walking distance from the New Delhi train station). Exhausted and exploited I got out paid the scum bag his Rs20 then proceeded to drag my heels to the hotel. Hotel Namaskar was by no means a hotel by western standards. In fact it was so ramshackle that I still wouldn’t have felt comfortable in it had I been a severe heroin addict checking in to shoot up for a few days.
Despite the state of the dump I’d just entered I checked in, dropped my bags and instantly fell asleep.
An hour or so later I heard a banging on the door and to my relief it was Campbell who had just arrived from Pakistan. Unfortunately he was in terrible shape having spent the last few days with a slippery and wet case of food poisoning and the early stages of an ear infection. This was no time to celebrate seeing each other and share tales of each of our travels. Instead we felt compelled to grimly joke about the window-less, matchbox of a room we were confined to where our only relief from the intense humidity was a rickety old ceiling fan mocking us with each slow rotation. At least the pink walls were nice enough and were only adorned by a few stains.
Welcome to New Delhi.
What do you think? Do Sam and I have a future travelling together or are the wheels going to fall off this rickshaw before we make it a week?