Saturday, July 28, 2007

Back in India

15 months after I left, I'm back in India. Thus, starting today, farting is suddenly a very risky act - as you never know what will happen.

Delhi airport can be a crazy experience. I had breakfast this morning with a South African woman who got completely screwed over when she arrived last night - taxi drivers threatening to drop her off in the middle of nowhere, over-priced mold infested hotel rooms, threats of violence, etc... All because she opted to go with a taxi driver who walked upto her, and offered her a deal.

It's like so many of the horror stories you hear - in hindsight, it's easy to see where they went wrong.

My experience on the other hand, was painless this morning.

I walked out of the airport, got some cash from the ATM - 2500 rupees in my money belt, and 300 rupees in bills in my top pocket.

I walked straight to a policeman, and asked him where I could catch a bus to the city - he pointed me the right way, and a second policeman outside actually walked me to the bus. Police are your good friend in India - assuming of course, you're not an Israeli backpacker trying to smuggle hashish.

The bus cost me 50 rupees, and dropped me off in Connaught Place. A 20 rupee auto-rickshaw ride took me to the area where I'm staying. After a bit of brief haggling, I got a air-con room in a decent hotel for 450 rupees.

First thing I did, was go and get a shave. I haven't shaved for 3 months, and looked like some kind of cross between a goat and a mujhadeen. Cleanly shaved, I got my first paan in 15 months, a towel, a lungi (a sarong/skirt) - as it is damn humid here, and breakfast: Idli.. mmm, oh how i've missed it.

Sure, it's so humid my shirt is sticking to me - yes, cows roam the streets, and the mud in the streets certainly isn't mud... but it's India, and I feel strangely, at home.

I fly to Leh tomorrow morning at 6AM. Leh is an ethnically tibetian area, the highest in altitude in India. However, it's also in the state of Jammu/Kashmir. Kargil, the beginning of muslim Kashmir, is a few hours away - and the Kargil War nearly caused a nuclear war back in 2002. Thus, while Leh will be flush with backpackers, the security situation is still very tight. Permits required to see some sites, military everywhere, and getting a GSM card for my phone may be tough.

I expect to have solid internet in Leh - and will be there for at least a few days, as my body will need to get used to the altitude.

Until then.


Katherine Townsend said...

I can't believe you voluntarily post- before you go there- that you are going to a high security area that was recently a threat for nuclear war... your family must be having a collective heart attack.

Anonymous said...

Hey there :-)
Just for you to know, I've stumbled over your blog on a random Google search and have already read every single one of your posts on India, as a part of my own preparation for a 4-months tour of the sub-continent, beginning on the Jan 5th.
You realy do have an awesome style, combined with essential info.
Your posts are extremely helpfull, as well as intertaining and I though that it might be a good idea to merit you with an encouraging comment!

Way you go dude, sounds like you're having a great trip. Hope that mine will be as good.

Sincerely Yours,
An anonymous Israeli backpacker.
(Did you get to trade the can of hummus already?) ;-)