1 July, India, First night
Well the flight from Bangkok to Delhi was 3.20 hours. It was quite cold on the flight and there was an Australian pilot on Cathay Pacific. I sat next to an Indian man from central India who had been on business. He is an electrical engineer and had traveled to Hong Kong, China, Bangkok and home again. He was intrigued by my trip and asked many questions. I found myself speaking of my world trip and uncertainty if I return to Australia. I feel I am going home, but where geographically that is, I really don’t know. I observed the Indus look and thought about India and how attractive the people are. The people on the plane were well dressed and it was nightfall when we landed. I was unable to get a look at Delhi from the sky.
The airport customs was fairly straight forward and it was quick to get outside. I was advised to get a prepaid taxi for 300 rupees. I got in an old taxi that had trouble starting, it was badly out of tune and it kept back firing. There was no air conditioning, 30 degree heat and much pollution.
The ride from the airport was confronting. I kept my cool and found my peaceful centre reminding myself this is not Melbourne and if I wanted sameness I’d be there. I choose to sit back and observe the experience. For Indians this is normal, for me life risking but I trust the driver has done this many times. There is a cacophony of traffic, it weaves where it likes, the indicator is seldom used, the horn screams out move I am coming through, many break lights, but not really near misses, yet this is early days. I was surprised to see it is a 3rd world country straight away. I was shocked at the disrepair of the roads and the gravel build up on the sides of the road. There were street vendors not unlike Cambodia and many people walking around doing what they do. Some women were on the streets, but mostly men. Hard to believe people know where they are going, but they do and the old beat up taxi got me to the place I was couch surfing. Couch surfing is a free service where you can be accommodated by fellow travelers who like to meet foreigners and show them around. I am staying in a very large house in a wealthy area and it is very hot here, yet I am told it has cooled down it usually gets up around 48 degrees (eek). I am reminding myself I have to get used to it. My hosts are a couple with extended family and really lovely. They have given me a bed, some yummy Indian food and I even have wireless connection. I asked them for a briefing….
I am told no women out at night, it is very dangerous. Do not wear anything revealing and perhaps best not to catch the buses. I will catch a taxi into Delhi. There is the old part of Delhi which apparently is very crowded. Where I am staying is nearer the airport, yet it seemed a long way. So it must be such a big city. I asked about sacred sites and the wife told me that her father is into history so I will ask him questions. The mother has a home for children of lepers. I asked how common was leprosy and am told it is very common. Also Tuberculosis is very prevalent, about 95% of people have it, but the majority live with it dormant in their bodies, it can be spread through coughing, so I must be careful. I am advised not to drink the water. I have a Steripen and will sterilize everything so I don’t get sick.
I’ve just received an email and been invited to teach peace in Mumbai so will see what happens.
This is the beginning of an interesting journey. I feel Gandhi and am keeping an open mind as if this is my home. Indeed the world is my home, to accept all of it in its diversity is the key.