New Delhi: organized chaos

I board the plane from Brussels to Dubai. I find myself traveling next to a cute blond 2-year girl and her mom. The little girl is happy, she sings songs to me, interferes with my dinner, I am in love with her, I want to keep her for my next trip. Occasionally, I help her mom take care of her on the seat and we become "flight-friends" by the end of the journey. A few days later I will learn that such friends are precious and it does bring good karma to help people on the plane. We part in Dubai and off I am to Delhi...my heart is full of panic - what the heck am I doing when I arrive?...


At Immigration there are 2 separate queues for foreigners and for Indian passport holders. Numerous guiches for Indians, and just 2 for a whole crowd of foreigners...both of them are stuck and don't move due to officers discussing in groups of 4 or 5 whether to let the person in or not. 40 minutes later, here I am, good news, my luggage is waiting for me. "Very good start" I think. 

I take prepaid taxi...and here we start. 30 seconds after departing I am already melting and quite sticky. Luckily there is some air when the car is moving BUT it is not really! HEAVY traffic! CHAOTIC traffic! I look around and cannot believe what I am seeing. A 3-lane road, people drive in 5 columns...well columns is too strong of a word for how they are driving. I am sure I am not mislead by the left-side driving, everyone overtakes us from both sides, this is what we do, too! My driver is bare-feet..."Why not, it is so hot.." I am thinking. On my side I am already so wet that I surrender to wipe myself. I think "Being so disgustingly sweaty publicly and presenting myself to my AirBnB hosts in that look, is the first step towards getting rid of any vanity (in the lack of any choice...) SO LET IT SWEAT!" (this will be my motto throughout my days in Delhi).
The GPS system in the taxis and the tuk-tuk's in Delhi works like that: the driver opens the window (often while driving) and starts shouting the name of the final destination at close-by drivers, or pedestrians - all destinations are quickly found, success guaranteed.
I will happily experience: low-cost taxi, air-conditioned taxi, tuk-tuk, cycling rikshaw & metro.

My hosts in Delhi are an extremely kind and helpful couple. They help me a lot with advices and make me feel so welcome and calm in this new to me, gigantic, chaotic city. I will forever remain grateful to them.

Already ahead in the afternoon, I hurry up to see the Lotus temple first. Beautiful modern building, completed 30 years ago. I think the city needs that - a white, clean, spacey, quiet building. They take my flip-flops at the entrance, the guy disappears without a word, I think "So now what? I am not that much into that pair of flip-flops but, honestly, I'd rather have them out in the street than not." the guy comes back with a number. I am relieved, I figure that somehow just like on the road outside there is sort of ORGANIZED CHAOS which seems to be running quite well across the city. The idea behind the Lotus temple is to sit inside in silence, think, meditate, rest....

After this moment of peace, as soon as I go out, Monsoon meets me, it starts pouring like it never rained before. The streets turn into rivers, most local people residing & working across the streets carry no umbrellas, they literally go with the flow. I find shelter under a samosa kiosk covered with a nylon. Everyone is local - people, dogs & a goat, I am obviously not, all covered in a pink raincoat, people stare at me. I think "It's very impolite to use their shelter and not eat their samosas"...I am petrified to eat the Indian street samosa...but I go for it...out of politeness, whatever value that word had over there under the nylon. Everyone is laughing at my face as I try and almost spit it as it's 12 times more spicy than the samosas in Brussels. I have a whole bunch of spectators....(FYI during the following night my stomach had no revenge on me for the street samosa I put inside).


As soon as it stops raining, I leave my audience and next I am off to the Red Fort....honestly I was more impressed by my ride with the Tuk-tuk than with the Fort itself (I have seen numerous forts in my life, but tuk-tuk NEVER). You just need to HOLD...hold real strong, be brave, observe and enjoy! On the way back I take a rikshaw. I have a lot of doubts and inhibitions about someone biking the rikshaw for me, but I speak to the boy and he explains that his favorite job is when he has to pull foreigners, that he likes to meet new people...I hope that is the case. It is fun, we hit 2 rikshaws, one tuk-tuk hit us, but obviously in this traffic, it's just like another bump on the road....
India Gate and Connaught place are great check points but unfortunately the dark is already there,
mixed up with fog and smog, so I take a walk, take a meal in a neat place and head home. 

I take the metro...in New Delhi there are almost 10 mln people, the average number of metro commuters daily is around 2,5 mln. Everyone, every time when they want to ride the metro go through a scan like in the airport. We leave our bags in the scanner belt, we go through a scanner. The ladies have a room with a curtain. And this - every time before you enter the metro...in the metro the first carriage is also reserved for women. All women ride alone together. Indeed, I do feel comfortable traveling there on my own in the evening... 

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