Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Delhi




I cannot begin to explain how completely excited I am. This all feels so overwhelmingly right and perfect and if ever I felt Meghan's presence, it is here and today. It is hot, sticky, the roads are packed with all manner of motorized transportation and everyone is honking, but it's so right. I walked into the coffee shop and they were playing Queen. Not just any song, but Bohemian Rhapsody. If you don't understand why that's perfect you should stop reading and we shouldn't be friends.

 I wish I could somehow turn text into video or at the very least audio. This is so strangely wonderful.  The trash man, at 7 in the morning sings about picking up your garbage like it's a call to prayer. There's pigeons making that weird cooing noise that normally fosters disgust (and probably still should as I'm sure they're every bit as dirty here, as on the east coast) outside every window.

Speaking of windows, two dudes just climbed out the restaurant window onto the roof. What?! I'm in love with this. So many moustaches and deep boatneck t-shirts. Delhi could easily be the new Williamsburg. (joke, see boat-neck reference.)

Also, my meal just cost $1.20.

I spent the rest of the day walking around Parliament, outside the presidents house and Old Delhi. It was hot. Did I already say that? That it's really, uncomfortable hot. I haven't stopped sweating. I feel like when it rains in Delhi its not actual rain, it's just everyones collective evaporated sweat coming back down. It's just so thick and muggy and kind of gross feeling.

Old Delhi is really intense. It's packed with people and noisy. The streets are noticeably narrower and noticeably dirtier. This is my first encounter with the homeless and the hustlers. A lot of people are trying to sell you something or get you to give them something. There were kids wearing either tops or bottoms, but not both and some wearing nothing. It's startling and filthy but still happy? It's not instrusive so much when they ask for money or offer a ride, I understand why they're doing it. There isn't much else for an illiterate ten year old without a provider to do. You can't help but be affected.

It's hard to imagine or believe sleeping on the ground next to a goat that gets the cot, or under a tarp next to the road amidst the trash and throngs of people.  I need to clarify both trash and throngs. Trash is not cigarette butts or half a newspaper. I mean TRASH. The parking lot literally looks like a dump (side note, the taxi drove down stairs to get there!). It's unpaved and is literally, garbage. Food trash, paper trash, waste trash, rotting and nauseating trash. And throngs; Imagine an Asian subway where people are packed, forcefully, into each car. Imagine that with temperatures in the 90's and nearly 100% humidity, with constant honking and yelling and seemingly no order to the direction or flow or people and traffic.  It feels insane and so very, very alive.

People are generally happy and nice. Kids ask for money and when you say you have none they ask you to take their picture instead. You say no to rickshaw rides at most 3 times and then they pedal off. Well, they pedal forward 3 feet then are stuck again in the traffic. The traffic is mind-blowing and somewhat terrifying. There's lanes and signs which are apparently nothing more than mere suggestions. Two lane roads usually have four cars across. Traffic is composed of motorbikes constantly weaving in and out, the 3 wheeled 'autos' that are like a covered tricycle mopeds, compact cars and vans, huge trucks, cattle carts, buses, and yes, the errant elephant ( I have proof). While all of this is happening, there are also people running out into traffic to cross the road and somehow, there aren't accidents. None. The closest I came to any sort of a bump was when a rickshaw rested it's front wheel on the back of the auto I was in and I felt a slight nudge. Everyone just has this innate sense of how things work I guess and is magically hyper-aware of what everyone else is doing. It's seriously scary to someone accustomed to lights and signals and lanes and mirrors, but after a couple of minutes you get over it, or maybe just give in and see it as entertainment.

After Old Delhi, I went to the arch commemorating the soldiers who fought for the British during the first world war and hung out for an hour or so before heading back to my friends house, for a much needed shower (very, very much needed) and then nap.

Meghan would have, no doubt, felt as overwhelmed as I do. There is so much to process here. In one day so much. I could hear Meghan talking about how cute the little kids in their school outfits were, packed 8 to a rickshaw built for two. Or her suprise at a cattle cart being stuck in traffic alongside cars or the elephant lumbering down the road with motorcycles zooming all around it. And the hissing monkey! She would've lost it! It's sad that I'm doing this alone sometimes. But, I do feel at peace with this leg of my journey. I know why I'm here and I'm excited to learn. Someone asked me yesterday why she wanted to come to India and I didn't know. I don't know. That's why I'm here. I'm trying to figure that out and learn more about her. By coming here and feeling her reaction to the things I'm experiencing, I'll understand.  I know she wouldn't have expected it to be the way that it is. Some things would've shocked and appalled her. I know how much she loved Indian food and how exciting it would've been for her to have the real thing. It's fantastic, really fantastic. I'm so excited about this whole process of learning and experiencing and taking her with me to all of this. She is constantly teaching me and urging me to be better and more through all of this. I can't wait for what's next.

4 comments:

Marg said...

Great commentary Adam. I can just see and feel how excited Meghan would have been. You are so right about the children and how she would have loved talking to them also. She IS with you....I can feel it!!! God Speed! Love Marg and Bill

Shannon said...

Your writing is so vibrant, I feel like I am with you on your journey. She would be proud of you.

LadyHayley said...

Adam, what an amazing picture you paint with your words. I cannot begin to imagine what it is like in such a different place but I am glad that you are energised by it and excited by all you encounter. I can just see Meghan beaming with pride, awe and amazement at everything you are seeing. She is there with you, taking in the heat, the smells, the sounds - your actions are honouring her in the most beautiful way.

Sending you my love.

Stay safe and happy x

shekhar said...

can you please share/say something nice about the people, city and country or you just landed only with the one dimensional vision to trash talk as most tourists do. if not for meghan perhaps you would prefer to be more comfortable in the US of A.

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