After exiting the the grounds of the Akshardham, the next adventure would involve taking a tuk-tuk into Old Delhi. Our female friend had been in one before, but my partner I were about to experience it for the first time. It was quite easy to find one outside the gates. With my camera ready, we jumped in and went for an extremely fun ride. Well, for me at least.
The three of use crammed into the back of the tuk-tuk and we zoomed off. I didn’t expect it, but the driver merged onto the highway to get us to our destination. With no doors, I wedged my right foot between the front seat, and stuck my camera lens out the side. My partner was not very happy about this as he had a strong grip on the camera strap, in case I fell out.
It wasn’t long before we reached our destination, and I was able to get some great photos in, as you can see in the gallery I will post. The driver dropped us off at the intersection, and we hopped out. From the moment we set foot on the street, I could tell we were going to be in for an interesting adventure.
We weren’t completely sure of our whereabouts, but it was for certain that we were in Old Delhi. We decided to start walking, in a direction that we all agreed on. We didn’t have anything planned, except for seeing what the area had to offer. So after a little while of walking and realizing that we were probably on the outskirts, since we were walking along the highway, we veered down a reasonable looking road. And just like that, the smell of rotting trash, bodily fluids and heat all hit me at once. I had been told by a few different friends that this would happen, but I didn’t realize the level of intensity it would bring. And I will say this…you don’t really get used to it, even after a few hours.
Walking down a wider road, the cars and tuk-tuks blasted their horns as usual, and people walked in every which direction on the street, ignoring the oncoming traffic. I saw a man urinating on the sidewalk, which was actually not the first time I’ve seen this while here. It seems to be a common thing, and its not something that bothers me. However, it may shock some people at first sight. After continuing on, we reached another intersection where the roads were much more narrow. This is when I knew we were getting closer to the action.
Some of the streets we were on are so narrow, its mind-boggling. This makes for even more congestion and chaos while automobiles and rickshaws try to weave in and out of the crowd. Stores seem as if they are smashed up against each other. And as you walk by, shopkeepers sit on the ground, or sometimes lay, while the ceiling fans attempt to keep out any heat. It really does feel like a step back in time. With cables and wires crazily hanging from buildings, to people getting shaves and haircuts on the sidewalk. The occasional man passed out on his rickshaw, or on a pushcart, paired with spider monkeys climbing up the sides of houses, make for interesting scenery. At some point along the way, a fight broke out between two men on the street.
Its rather eye-opening to the first time visitor. I’ve heard stories of poverty being mixed in with cities undergoing modernization. These countries, like India and the Philippines, where the difference is so visible and extreme, that you can’t helped but be shocked, are the ones that always get mentioned. Between the rickshaw drivers fighting to get a fare from tourists like myself, only to make the equivalent of what New York City taxis charge just to get into the cab (and not to mention they have to physically pedal the weight of sometimes three or more people), and the those who live in tents on the side of the road, poverty could not have made itself any more clear. And as I sit here at one of, if not the most pristine hotel in Delhi, I can’t help but feel guilty. But at the same time, it makes me appreciate what I have that much more. In the end, I will say this: No matter how rich or poor people seemed here, I never felt like any of them blinked an eye, or took a second look. This is everyday life for them. It may not be something that I’m used to, or will ever understand. It is definitely not the easiest thing to swallow at first, but this is why I came here. To experience culture and life from a different perspective.
See more of my posts on India here.