After a quick but fulfilling week of eating, shopping and logistics in New York, we made the 24 hour journey to the latest destination of our journey – India. After reading reviews of Air Kuwait, and expecting it to be a nightmare trip, we were pleasantly surprised… the flights were both on time, the airplanes were brand new and super comfortable, we had 3 seats to ourselves, the food was good, and the layover in Kuwait was quick and painless.
We arrived in Delhi around midnight, and without much hassle at all were checked into our hostel by 2:30am – quite a contrast to the last time I was here. I have memories of a filthy airport, complete mayhem, a shitfight for taxis, and many attempts by the taxi driver to take me to his brother-cousin’s hotel instead of mine because “everything is full because of the big festival”. None of that this time, which was a breath of fresh air.
The last time I (Greg) was in India was in 2001, on my first big overseas travel adventure. I spent 7 weeks here, and vowed to be back soon but somehow that took another 17 years to make a reality. It feels good to be back, and besides the airport it doesn’t feel like much has changed. I guess time will tell, as we explore this magical land.. perhaps the biggest change has been in me.
We spent 5 days in Delhi – much of it in the hotel room with our time clocks all out of whack. We eased ourselves into the madness by staying right in the heart of it – Paharganj, and eating delicious food and not spending too much time in the crazy heat in any one stretch.
To be honest, we didn’t venture much further than Old Delhi, where we walked around the old market and marveled at the ridiculousness of the whole thing. Huge jumbles of electrical wire hanging (sometimes by a thread) over the streets, perilously close to our heads. Cars, trucks, rickshas, bicycles, motorcycles all zooming in all directions with no regard for law or safety. Street food vendors occupying whatever tiny slither of spare space they can find to setup their makeshift food stalls. Specialty stalls selling single items, such as replacement wheels for suitcases (including fitting service on the spot); piles of old padlocks without keys; piles of old keys without padlocks; along with the usual assortment of bits and pieces such as incense, biscuits, toys, sarongs and saris, and unlimited variations of all sorts of useless and useful junk. What a hodgepodge, and what fun to explore!
After 5 days, we were well ready to escape the heat (vowing to return to Delhi on the way back South in a few months), and booked a train ticket to Amritsar. Let’s hope this leg of travel will be as easy as the one that brought us to this weird and wonderful country.