7 Days in Delhi- Day 1: Namaskar!

 

It has been on the top of my travel list for a long time now, and I’ve finally made it! After almost 19 hours of traveling, I’ve landed in India, ready to take on my next travel adventure.

On this trip, I am staying in Delhi for seven days. I know it sounds like a short trip for having come so far, but the circumstances under which I have come here are not all that traditional. Yes, I’m here on holiday, but I’m also tagging along with my partner, as he has come here for a work trip. So that being said, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to come for a visit!

Waiting in London's Heathrow airport, I caught an interesting reflection.

Waiting in London’s Heathrow airport, I caught an interesting reflection.

On the way over, I followed some advice I read online about beating jet lag. As soon as I got on to the first leg of my flight from New York City to London, I adjusted my internal time clock to the final destination. This meant that I had to force myself to stay up for most of the first flight, which is a challenge for me because I am one of those people who pass out as soon as the plane is off the ground. However, this wasn’t too hard considering that my flight left at 7:15 am, and I was well rested from the night before. I did pass out for about an hour in between somewhere but it didn’t affect me too much. The flight to London landed about half an hour early, which gave me extra time to unwind and get a full meal in for dinner. (The meal on the plane was definitely not enough.)

After landing in London, I looked for a decent restaurant in Heathrow to dine at, and stumbled upon a placed called Oriel. It was rather disappointing, but I will get to that in a later post. The two and a half hour connection went by quickly, and I made my way to the gate for the second leg of my journey.

Being that this was going to be an overnight flight, I made sure to sleep at least five out of the eight hours we would be in the air. And thankfully, I timed it perfectly. I woke up about two hours before landing and was able to beat the jet lag in the end. It worked! To be quite honest, I didn’t feel “refreshed”, but I also did not feel groggy or tired.

To my surprise, the border entry process was very quick. The line at passport control was short and efficient. As soon as I made it through, I found the driver waiting to take me to the hotel, and off we went!

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One of the many roadside stands.

From the moment I stepped out of the air-conditioned airport, I was struck by the humidity. For a brief moment, it’s denseness felt like being back home in Hawai’i. But as it sunk in, I realized I was far from home! The car took off and we made our way to the hotel. And fortunately, I got to enjoy the scenery from a very comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle.

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Colorful trucks

As we got onto the highway, I was immediately intrigued by the greenery of Delhi. Much of the vegetation looks like that of what I grew up surrounded by. Plumeria trees were the first thing I noticed, followed by colorfully painted and decorated trucks, with people hanging off the back. And as the driver darted in and out of on-coming traffic, I noticed a bus stop full of patiently waiting people. Tuk-tuks flew by us, weaving in and out. Horns were constantly being blasted while motorbikes shimmied between buses and trucks. It was apparent to me at this point that traffic lanes in India, mean nothing.

As an accompaniment to my car ride, I was able to engage in conversation with the driver. He was a very nice man from the Himalayas, who had moved to Delhi about seven years ago to pursue a better life. He started with small talk in the beginning, asking the questions I suppose anyone in his position would ask. Where I was flying in from, what I did for work, and if it was my first visit to India. But being the curious person that I am, I inquired about his journey to India as well, to which he was happy to respond.

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Waiting for the bus

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The land of tuk-tuks

He told me about his arranged marriage, his two daughters and what it was like to work in the hotel industry as a contracted employee. We talked about education in India, the wealth (and lack thereof) of the general population, and what life here is like for him. He told me that he is happy living here, and that he visits his family back in the Himalayas once a year if he can afford it. He asked about life in New York City, and how much it costs to rent apartments there. It was definitely something that I had to word carefully, as I always do with people who don’t live in New York City, since you never know how they are going to react. And while I always try to make my experiences relatable to other people, I know that in this country, the way people view me is going to be much different. And this was only the beginning. I am yet to experience and see things that will open my eyes to how fortunate we can be to live modern lives in America. The car ride soon came to an end, and I parted ways with the driver, who left me his information in case I wanted guided tours. I thought that was nice of him.

Pulling up to the Imperial Hotel, I was immediately greeted by the staff, bags taken and checked in very easily. The level or service is definitely something to be noted. The same person who checked me in, escorted me to my room, while giving me a brief history and tour of the hotel. As it turns out, the hotel is also an art gallery, filled with beautiful paintings of the  ancient and colonial times of India. The scent of jasmine fills the air as you walk down the halls, lined with pieces of art, on the backdrop of colonial style of architecture. Every staff member we encountered along the way was courteous and made sure to say hello, with a smile.

My first priority at this point, is to get to the room, change, head to the gym (for an extra boost of energy), and the go straight to the pool. All of which I accomplished successfully. And since my friends were to arrive later in the evening, I had time to relax for a bit, before heading downstairs to have dinner.

After long needed relaxation at the pool, I freshened up and headed down to one of the two bars in the hotel. This particular bar, called Patiala Peg, is tucked away on one side of the atrium. Its a small and intimate space, with a nice selection of scotch, as well as a very nice cocktail list. The bartender immediately greeted me and was just as hospitable as everyone else I had encountered so far.

Eventually, we started talking and he asked what I did for a living. When I told him that I am also a bartender, his eyes immediately lit up. We then spoke about where he comes from, and at one point I asked him how he liked living in Delhi. To my surprise, he said that he wasn’t a big fan of living here. But his explanation made sense. And to someone like me who also lives in a densely populated city, I could relate. He told me that it was difficult living in a city like Delhi, because friendships are hard to make, and keep. He further went on to state that when you live in a city with so many people, its hard to tell who truly wants to be your friend, and who just wants something from you. He has a couple of childhood friends, with whom he keeps in contact with, but other than that, his main purpose is to continue to save money, so that one day soon he can go back to his town to live a quieter life. However, this is all based on the moment his family finds him a wife. It was a sobering conversation, in a good way, to say the least.

Time passed, and my friends finally arrived. I said my thanked my bartender again, and went to my room. I had been struggling to stay awake, even after two cups of coffee, while waiting, so a bed sounded like heaven. I was relieved to finally have made it here, and excited to continue the adventure in the morning. But until then, bedtime.

More posts on India can be seen here!

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