Spicy Thalis and a trainride of 1800km
Hi dirty streets and holy cows! I decided to explain this one week in India quite detailed. You can just skip to the pictures if you don't really care, we all do that sometimes. Anyway, I spend a few days in Delhi, without going to Agra to visit one of the modern seven world wonders, Taj Mahal. So this means I have to come back, right?
To be honest it was not so much by choice that I didn't visit it. It was just even messier than it usually already is to get train tickets because the whole country was upside down going to or from Delhi for Diwali festival. And also for Chhath Puja I later found out. So it was already quite a stressful journey to get my tickets to the border with Bhutan, 1800 km further from where I was at that point. Two weeks before my arrival in Delhi there were already waiting lists on most of the trains, yes that's what happens in the country with the second biggest population worldwide. -So just give me a call if you need help with traintickets in India, I became a master in IRCTC services.-
Besides the rollercoaster to get train tickets, I definitely had more than a good time. Even without visiting the Taj Mahal. I visited different areas in Delhi, mosques and temples which unraveled such beautiful dynamics between religions and cultures here in Northern India. But apart from whatever culture of religion, the people made me feel like a real moviestar because all the locals wanted to take selfies with me to the point where it got to the awkward amount of 30 selfies a day, haha. I also finished a whole Thali by myself even though it burned my whole inside every bite again.
This means I can proudly say that I am adapting to spicy food! And for those who are afraid of travelling to India for hygienic reasons which result in diarrhoea: I am the example that it's possible not to shit yourself! I didn't have diarrhoea once. This only happened later in Bhutan when my stomach got literally sick of spicy stuff for a while. -Sorry if you really didn't want to read those details.-
Except from the spicy food the traffic in India is literally the craziest I have ever seen. I thought when I went to Morocco that I had seen chaotic driving but this was next level. I didn't even dare to cross the streets in the beginning because you literally just have to hope that every scooter, bus, car or tuk tuk on these six different lanes sees you and stops for you. But you adjust to all the noise and chaos quite fast, it gives this certain wild, reckless vibe. On day two I already ended up at the back of a motorbike driving through the city centre of Delhi, and I didn't even pee my pants.
Another thing which I had a harder time adapting to was the the pollution and plastic dirt in Delhi which is extremely bad and a serious issue that needs to be tackled. While I was there I read in the local newspaper that the number given by the Air Quality Index got up to 500. This means officially it just can't get worse. Everybody living in New Delhi is in health danger. Even just being there for one week made my throat hurt all the time and I haven't seen the sun properly while it was 30 degrees outside. The smog just created an endless grey sky. So, I almost teared up when after my first night on the sleeper train I woke up with the sun shining on my face and actual blue skies. Honestly, this train ride was the best experience ever. Everyone told me I am crazy already for travelling all on my own, especially as a woman, to India. But honestly it empowered me so much and overall I felt safe the whole time. For 38 hours my backpack, this small bed/bench and a toilet that made me want to vomit was all I had. I didn't need anything else since every half an hour there were people screaming to sell some delicious Chai while the views were showing off their beauty to me.
That doesn't mean it wasn't intense for some moments. Especially the first 20 hours the train was overpacked due to Chhath Puja. There were people still sitting on my bed for an hour or so while I really wanted to go to sleep. But when you see people sleeping on the ground and in between the train compartments where the smell of pee overwhelms, you put your own thinking in perspective.
I think my biggest issue was the fact that I am a smoker, so not smoking for 38 hours when there is nothing to do was quite a challenge. Especially because I enjoy moments of peace by myself with a cigarette so much. Once or twice I went for a smoke though, since the doors of the train are open, or can be opened, while driving.
The second morning I woke up at 7 a.m. just to stare out of the window. But this was the day that I would probably set foot in the kingdom of Bhutan. I felt like I didn't want to leave India behind yet. There is just so much beauty, so much diversity and many things I would love to explore. But at the same time I was longing to see the country and people which would become my home for six months. In that moment I decided I will surely come back but without any limitation in time.
First things first, see y'all in Bhutan! Luka
28.10.2019 - 01.11.2019