A sudden, unseasonal downpour ended our first full day in Delhi before it even got started.
Wearing raincoats and hoisting our green umbrella, we had barely gotten two hundred meters down the Main Bazaar in Paharganj before we realized that we were going to get soaked on our way to explore Connaught Place, about ten minutes’ walk away. And wet Delhi streets are just plain miserable. Dry, they are dusty, trash-strewn, and dirty beyond belief. Wet, they are riddled with puddles of filthy water, which you can try to sidestep, moving from one elevated patch to another. Something in my soul shrieked wordlessly each time that water sloshed over my feet in its sandals or splashed onto my pants. We called it a day and headed back, for hot showers, a soap-scouring, and sending down a half-load of laundry to be done.
The next evening, we ventured out to meet a friend of a friend. We met Diane in Taipei, and spent a few very happy evenings celebrating Taiwan’s lack of an open-container law. Hearing we were headed to Delhi, Diane connected us with her friend Becky, who was teaching at the American Embassy School here. Steve and I found ourselves walking along the far-too-clean and empty sidewalks of the diplomatic compounds, and after some security shenanigans, we were at the American club in Delhi, enjoying dinner and miracles of miracles, IPAs. Becky and her husband were kind enough to introduce us to the American club, the center of the American social community in Delhi. Slightly wide-eyed, we walked by a small softball field (“There was supposed to be a tournament this weekend, but it got rained out”), bowling alley, and a swimming pool we’d seen in multiple news articles that surfaced this January in the wake of the Indian diplomat scandal. Over club sandwiches and my first bowl of chili in goodness knows how long, we talked about their experiences working abroad, places to go in India, and happily enjoyed some Red Hooks. It was a little bit of sanity!
Between small adventures and actually being able to see and visit things, there is, of course, the unrelenting flood that is India. The one mercy of the entire place is that Delhi hovers around 70 degrees most days. It makes it that much easier to deal with the continual honking outside our hostel and on the street. Without fail, people try to greet us and sell us something or get us to take their rickshaw or cab. I am starting to really hate that I need to just ignore everyone who is trying to talk to me. At least we’ve been in the habit of bargaining for our transportation everywhere we’re going from our time in Thailand.
I’m trying to persuade Flickr to ignore this creaky old wifi connection and push one more load of pictures online. I’ve almost told the whole world now about our day trip to Agra, so I can write a post about that next. But it’s kind of late, and we have to board a flight to Amritsar tomorrow. We’re heading out to see the Golden Temple, and the closing ceremony at the Pakistani border, and to spend a few days in Punjab. And I’m really looking forward to it, hoping it’ll be a better atmosphere than the clogged, hazy, full-of-humanity-and-mess of Delhi.