Northern India Part I: New Delhi

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My temporary retirement from travel was broken by India. And like eating a greasy shawarma to break your fast, India awakened my senses and my bowels. Nothing could have prepared me for a country that is at once colorful, filled with despair, sweet smelling and filthy, holy and chaotic. I loved and hated my time in Northern India, but like any trip I photographed the good and bad, ate from street vendors and rode public transport while watching a remarkably unique landscape of people, cows and temple dotted history unfold before my eyes. 

New Delhi acted as bookends to our travels in Northern India, so that is where I will begin. Never have I felt the impact of a city upon arrival like in India. We were surrounded before even leaving the airport. “Taxi!” “chai, chai!” “Where you go?” This was not the usual “Let’s charge the tourist a bit more for a rickshaw ride.” This was different, reckless, hungry, in your face and I felt a familiar fear of being an un-seasoned traveler considering catching the next boat back to more familiar waters.

Our first Metro ride caused every alarm in my nervous system to fire as I held my bag tightly to my chest and felt desperate eyes. A man tapped my shoulder. I was on-guard and ready to use the skills I learned in college during “ I am woman, hear me roar” club. And then he spoke. “Where are you from?” I stared blankly. “Have you been in India long?” I managed a “no.” “Welcome, I wish you a pleasant stay.” I retreated inside my scardy-cat self, looked around the metro, and saw no harm, just curious Indian people, on their way to work, as irritated by the close quarters as I was.

As days passed in India, I faced the same humility and took my experience on that first metro ride as a reminder to not judge too harshly. Sure you can find expat friendly enclaves such as Hauz Khas Village, but as the masala chai pulsed through my veins I started to see India for the vibrant, keeper of ancient history and kaleidoscope of color that it is. Delhi may be an overwhelming first stop but a worth-while introduction to a country as uniquely rich as India, and a convenient jumping off point for finding all the peace you will ever need in the North.

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Highlights: INA Market, Dilli Haat, Rickshaw travel, Oxford Bookstore, Naivedyam, Shanti Home, Chandni Chowk street food.

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One Comment on “Northern India Part I: New Delhi

  1. India, a well disguised beauty under a layer of filth, poverty, suffering, chaotic hassle and much more! We love it but it’s not crystal clear as to why we do.

    It was awesome meeting you guys and look forward to your next post :)

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