Adventures in India by a total newbie.
Well, until today, I had never been off the North American continent.
I did not even have a passport until 3 days ago.
Already now, I have been to Taipei, Flown over Japan, China, Vietnam, and who knows where else, before arriving in New Delhi.
So, having the name Bond can be a PITA sometimes, but sometimes it is quite entertaining. The flight attendant in China Air, when handing us our menus and hot towels, literally got all giggly when she was reading my name off the manifest to introduce herself to us. “ohh, hee hee, Mr. Bond, Would you like Champagne or Scotch?” This, of course, causes my boss/travel companion to give me that “REALLY? Did that just happen?” look, and then he says, “I bet that happens all the time right?” Yes, yes it does. Ok, that and the guy waiting at the gate with the sign that says “Mr. Bond” is pretty cool too, another face palm from The Boss. Then there is having the driver hand us our fully preprogrammed local cell phone, complete with all the numbers we will need for our trip entered and ready to go. Sadly, they did not come out of a manila envelope with alternate passports and wads of international cash.
And the adventure of driving thru Delhi begins….
It did not take very long at all for total culture shock to set in. the number of people, guards on the road with weapons visible, drives jockeying for position on the roads regardless of those pesky line drawn on them, all the way down to the actual cow walking in the middle of the road.
Really? These are the things that everyone makes jokes or rash generalizations about all the time. But that is how it really is here. It is mesmerizing to watch the people in their daily lives just trying to get from point A to point B. (wait there is a van driving down the road with loud speakers on it telling me something I cannot understand in a very excited tone, apparently, local elections in this state are next Tuesday and he really wants my vote) It is fascinating to sit by the window and just watch it all go by.
Metal detectors, car check and baggage x-ray to get into the hotel was something new, too. Don’t open the door for yourself; don’t touch your own bags.
From the hotel window, I can see a cross section of Indian urban life. Next door is a section of housing for local middle class; I would almost label them slums. There are water tanks on every apartment, laundry hanging out, and LPG tanks in every balcony. Across the street are more business building, all in various states, some brand new and shiny, some really old and crumbling, new construction, buildings that are vacant and uninhabitable. The intersection here has one street there is actually a dirt road leading into the neighborhood there. That is where the local cows are coming from/to. Then there is the tent encampment; a series of tents and lean-tos made from many different materials. It looks like a season of Survivor gone terribly wrong. (there is a reality TV idea for you; drop the contestants in a place like this with no $$, no language skills or local knowledge and see what happens)
This all outside my window, while I live in relative luxury, it what is an average hotel room (to me), all within about one city block, north to south……..and I have only been here for 4 hours.
This picture provides a great look at the slice, from bottom to top: The pool/lounge at the hotel, the street, tent encampment, business buildings, Housing, and industrial zone.