19:00 – Club India, Rooftop Terrace, Paharganj, India
I love how the Indians make their coffee. It’s strong and deep, but still milky and a little sweet. If it wasn’t so hot, I’d be tempted to down it in one swig. Shame on me for choosing to drink coffee over tea for a second time today in a country known for its tea, such as Chai and Darjeeling.
Here, above the madness three stories below, I’m able to finally have a quiet moment, though not literally quiet. The sound of two-stroke tuk-tuk engines, the high pitched honking from scooters and motorbikes, and drums from some sort of procession reach up from the street like tentacles trying to swallow me back into its frenzy.
Behind me a cricket match is playing on TV. Twisted around the walls and railings like overgrown vines are multi-colored christmas lights. On the table beside me I spot a couple copies of the Lonely Planet: India guide, which makes it no surprise to me that almost everyone up here is European or Australian. My a la carte knowledge of languages is able to pick out some Dutch and German.
I’m staying in an area called Paharganj, which is basically an area west of the New Delhi train station. The main strip is called Main Bazaar, where vendors tout their wares from bags to silks to toy guns. It isn’t so different from the night markets of Taiwan, save for the cows standing in random groups in the street. I have yet to spot any street signs around here and the only way to find my hostel is by committing to memory the random signs that surround the seedy alley that leads down to my little pocket of Delhi.
My first full day in Delhi was a fast paced whirlwind tour of the city. I had decided to take a car-for-hire tour offered by the hostel, thinking that it would save much hassle getting from site to site. It was actually nice to have a chauffeur for the day, and we got a long fairly well. Sanjay, my driver, was the same age as me, though he was already married and had one child. My only peeve was when he dropped me off at a fairly nice restaurant for lunch. As I peeked in before sitting down, all I saw were foreigners. By that time, though, I was too hungry to turn around and go somewhere else, so I sat down and paid about $12 for the meal. Despite the price, the food was very good, and definitely could have fed two people if I hadn’t scarfed it down so fast.
New Delhi is hectic and tiring. I don’t know if it’s the jet lag, the traffic, or the constant barrage of really nice people offering to rip me off that drains me most. There’s a phrase in the travel book that says something like “If you have patience going to India, you’ll lose it. If you don’t have patience, you’ll learn it.” I’m doing both.