Welcome to India!

*Between the chaos of travel and the ever-unreliable internet situation, I’ve fallen a bit behind on posts. I have most of them written, but I haven’t had the internet to support actually organizing the pictures and uploading them. I’m finally in a stable wifi environment, so I’ll be uploading the rest of the Peru ones and catching you up on my time in India so far over the next few days. I’ve back-dated the Peru posts and will date the India ones for around the days when I wrote them, so they’ll be in chronological order on my feed.*

Welcome to India!!! Whew! It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks. When I first landed here, my brain was not ready to register being in a new country yet. I’m still getting used to remembering where I am. How weird is that? This is definitely not a problem I would have expected to ever have. Who the heck loses track of what country they’re in? How much do you have to travel for that to happen? Well, I guess that three countries in four days is my limit.

I landed in Delhi around 9PM last night and zombie-walked my way through immigration and customs. Thankfully it all went without a hitch because I don’t think I had the capacity to deal with any issues after 24ish hours of travelling. I connected no problem with my ride, and we headed off to the hotel to crash for the night before a big day of sightseeing today!

After a day of being here, here’s a list of my first impressions (these are all based on observations in Delhi, so things may very well be different in other parts of the country):

Traffic-related things:

Traffic view. This definitely isn’t the worst case but I was on a bridge, so I had to just take what I could get at the moment.

People are always talking about the traffic here and how crazy it is, so I was expecting something insane. Yes, it’s definitely hectic, but I’ve had experiences in Peru and China that are pretty darn close. There are some distinguishing factors here though.

  1. Driving on the left – I think I knew this at some point, but I COMPELTELY forgot that they drive on the left here. When I got picked up from the airport, I had a momentary head spin when I got in the car and the driver was on the wrong side.
  2. Honking horns – Everyone uses their horn as if everyone else in the world is blind, and the only way that they’ll know you’re coming is if you’re honking. You honk if you’re passing someone, if someone is crossing the street and you’re going to hit them, if someone even looks like they might be thinking about crossing the street, if an animal looks like it might be in your way, if you’re in completely stopped traffic and you need to make yourself feel better about not going anywhere, etc. You name an opportunity, and someone is probably honking.
  3. Vehicle variety/quantity – The biggest thing that makes it more chaotic than other countries I’ve been to is that there are WAY more motorcycles and tuk-tuks (these are the same as motos in Peru – like a motorcycle rickshaw, or a motorcycle tricycle as I like to think of them) on the road. They weave in and out of the cars and drive kind of like nutcases. There are also bike rickshaws, normal bikes, other motorbike-related vehicles that I’ve never seen before, trucks, buses, and more. I’ve never seen such vehicle variety.

    Not a great picture, but you can see a woman riding sidesaddle on the front motorcycle.

  4. Motorcycle sidesaddle – This might be one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. Sometimes, women (especially when wearing a skirt) will ride on the back of motorcycles with both legs on one side, like riding a horse sidesaddle. To me, this is an incredible feat. How do they stay on? Is that not terrifying?
  5. Crossing the street – This is most similar to my experiences in China. When you cross the street, you need to be aggressive, but not TOO aggressive. It’s like a dance where if you step wrong, instead of getting some stubbed toes, you get hit by a car (or tuk-tuk or motorcycle or who knows what else). Sounds fun, right? The best strategy is to hide behind someone else while you’re crossing so that if anything goes wrong, they get hit instead of you.

General Environment

  1. Smog – This is another one that I knew about but forgot. If you haven’t been to a smoggy country before, just imagine that every day is a little foggy, but that fog is slowly killing you. The difference in your breathing and how the air feels between smoggy countries and ones with clean air are VERY easy to perceive. Thank goodness for emissions regulations in the US!
  2. Trash – Like Ghana, there’s a lot of trash everywhere. If you think US cities are dirty, come here. It’s gross.
  3. Water bottles – When you finish a water bottle, you’re supposed to crumple up the bottle before you throw it away (it even says so on the label). This is so that people can’t trash-pick the bottle, refill it with un-filtered water, “reseal” it, and sell it to an unsuspecting victim.
  4. Water – Speaking of water, as a foreigner, you pretty much have to drink bottled water (unless you want to spend a lot of time and effort purifying the tap water). Besides possibly containing bacteria that can give you anything from cholera to typhoid, some of the water has heavy metals including arsenic. You know, arsenic… aka poison. Everyone, please take a moment to take a deep breath, drink some tap water, and appreciate your clean water and air. Don’t take these things for granted!

    Dirt or tan lines? Hint: it’s dirt. All dirt.

  5. Dirt – Do we have less dirt in the US than in other countries? I don’t know, but I never feel so grimy at home. Here, plus in Ghana and somewhat Peru, I constantly feel like I’m covered with a layer of grime. It’s like there’s dirt seeping out of my pores. It’s impossible to keep anything clean.

Random

  1. Architecture – There is some REALLY cool stuff here. I’ll post more about what we saw today later, but just know that it’s pretty awesome. There are so many different styles happening here because of all of the different rulers and influences that have come in over India’s history, and it’s interesting to see them all interact. Tomb architecture is quickly becoming my favorite.
  2. Barefoot culture – If you like going barefoot, this might be the place for you. We went into a couple temples today, and when you go inside, you have to take your shoes off. It feels very weird taking off your shoes and walking around in public but at the same time, very liberating. I ❤ barefoot temples.

Okay, that’s all for now. So far, I’m enjoying being here. More details to come soon, I promise!

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