The Beginning of My New Life

The beginning of my new life.
So as I write this I’m sat in a hostel in Delhi, listening to the call from a local mosque mixed in with the horns of countless vehicles. But I’m here at last. Months of planning have all come together to get me to India.
It very nearly didn’t happen of course. 3 days before I flew I couldn’t find my passport. “I had it the other day” I though. Where could it be. Then it slowly dawned on me, I was wearing my shorts with the nice big pockets, perfect sized for a passport.
You guessed it, these shorts had been washed, complete with passport!!! I could have screamed. We dried it out and it all looked ok, a bit crinkled but ok. But the paranoia kicked in, what if the chip is damaged? What if they don’t accept it as it is? Panic panic panic.
I was in a real panic, wracked with self doubt, was this a good idea? What if I end up in prison for them thinking I was trying to fake my way into the country? Was I really able to travel anymore? I began wondering about it all.
Walking away from my Mum into the security at Birmingham airport was just so hard, I couldn’t look back or I may have changed my mind. I had never felt that before a big trip, but for some reason I was really nervous. At least until I was through security, the earphones went in, the Country music went up to 11 and I got into the travel zone.
The same ritual I always do when boarding a plane helped to level me out and washed away all nerves and “Travel Dan” was reborn.
The flights were pretty uneventful and before I knew it I had landed in India.
I had arranged to be collected from the airport by the hostel but on arrival I couldn’t find the guy, my phone didn’t work so I thought meh, ill make my own way there. I got in a cab and the guy assured me he knew where he was going. Yeah right, he got lost about 4 times, having to get out and ask parked tuk tuk drivers for directions, when he finally found the hostel he tried to charge me for the time he spent lost.
Now I may be new to India, but I’m not new to piss taking. I fear having been awake for over 24 hours I wasn’t in the mood to the Indian bargaining game. I gave him what I felt was fair and got out the cab, I think he realised I had rumbled him trying to overcharge as he chucked when I said NO and gave him the cash.
Once in the hostel I gave my name and they guy scolded me for not being at the airport, I think he again saw the flash of a man who has been awake too long and backtracked very quickly telling me to take of my bag, relax, be comfy!
A few hours wait for the room to be ready followed, with me desperately trying to stay awake. As soon as I got my room key I was in bed and out like a light.
1 power nap later and I was ready to meet Delhi, the cab had given me an idea of the chaos on the roads but it didn’t really give me a sense of the smells of Delhi. Its not the most pleasant of smells, a mixture of spice and swear with an overlay of petrol. The pollution is incredible, you can taste it in the air.
Walking along the road I was very conscious of everyone stares but instead of making me uncomfortable they only reaffirmed why I had come. I love being the only white face, or sticking out from the crowd!
I got very confused looking for food though, the restaurants don’t look like you would expect on the outside, I walked past a McDonalds and very nearly went there for my first meal, just to play it safe, I’m really glad I didn’t as I found a really nice restaurant. I have no idea what I ordered but my god it was hot. Really tasty but whammy on the after taste.
Back at the hostel I fell into the obligatory backpacker questions, where are you from? How long have you been in India? Etc. great conversation starters. I met a bunch of people from all over and had a few beers before settling in for a nights sleep.
The next morning I was up early to head out on a tuk tuk tour of New Delhi. Wow those tuk tuks are fun, weaving in and out of traffic with the hand pressed firmly down on the horn! I’m not sure id want to drive one but as a passenger they are a great way to get around.
The first stop was India Gate, erected in Victorian times it is very similar to the Marble Arch or Arc de Triumph. Really impressive, not as impressive as our next stop, the Presidents palace. I huge house bordered by the parliament house and army house. All Victorian they are very impressive, unfortunately you cant get too close unless your an Indian citizen and even then there’s a 3 month waiting list.
Our next stop was The Bangla Sahib, the biggest Sikh temple in Delhi. We were able to go in and learn a bit about the Sikh faith. Our shoes had to be removed and our heads covered, it was great to be able to enter and take part regardless of my own beliefs, the temple helps a lot of local people and feeds all who go there free of charge, we got a look around the kitchen and its crazy how busy it was, Roti’s being made by the dozen, huge vats of curry slowly cooking. The temple surrounds a huge man made lake of water which is holy to the Sikhs, it is said to be healing water, however my fear of Delhi belly took over my want to immerse myself in a culture and I skipped the drinking/washing of the waters, others in my group didn’t so I’m sure ill find out tomorrow if it was a good idea or not!
This evening I’m planning to head out to the football stadium to watch the mighty Delhi Dynamos take of FC Pune City. Ex Chelsea player Flourant Malouda will be starting for Delhi who are managed by Gianluca Zambrotta formerly of AC Milan, Juventus and Barcelona.
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