So they say you either love India or hate it. Can it be both?
My first impression when going out of the airport in Delhi was: “wow it’s hot, it’s crawling with people and damn, so much noise!” You’re not even outside the airport yet that tons of people are already harassing you to make you go in their rickshaw / taxi, even though there’s a prepaid booth right there… Once in the line, everyone is cheating and more of them who want to get you to the city without a prepaid vehicle keep coming to you, on a delightful background of commune and permanent honking. Once in a prepaid rickshaw with a defined destination, the driver still wants to take you to another hotel. Oh you booked your room and you denied 3 times the other place? Ok, let’s go to the tourism office to get you a free map then. It’s a “no, please take us to our hotel with no stop” song on repeat.
You think it’s bad? It won’t change and it’s just the beginning.
The next day we wake up in Paharganj, the backpackers area and capital of the world of scams! From the hotel staff, to the million of people approaching you in the street to sell their shit, to that guy we met in a restaurant who would not let us talk to each other and ended up taking us to a fake tourism office that happened to be on his way, to the guy in this phoney place and yet another hundred of people in just 2 motherfucking days.
And there are the animals, cows, goats, donkeys, monkeys etc, IN the city of Delhi.
And of course there are those millions of men walking in the street and staring at you, not staring in a way you can imagine, no. Staring at you with a blank expression of stupidity from 10 centimeters away, walking past you, stopping in front of you to stare some more, sometimes trying to get closer to you if it even was possible so you would touch them by moving away. What a freaking nightmare. Women in the street? What women?? There are men everywhere, no women in some streets, a few in others.
Did I like Delhi? Yes, from the rooftop of the restaurants, trying to take a rest from that constant haggling, it looks chaotic and colorful, like in Yangon. But Indian are not Myanmar people. No smile.
It was such a hell to go around that we quickly moved on to our next step: Bikaner. Oh yeah, the fake tourist agent made us a whole itinerary hopping we would pay a very large amount of dollars (and no rupees) for him to book everything. We took the itinerary and left without giving him a cent (and oh what a coincidence, the guy who took us there happened to be walking right there when we got out, insisting on having a drink with us so once again, we would not be able to talk each other out of this whole thing but we firmly pulled him off). People warn you about India but you cannot be prepared!
Anyway we end up in Bikaner, where we’re delighted to add camels to the list of animals hanging around in town. Cows are sacred so they roam freely, blocking traffic, shitting everywhere on the streets, but it never stops to amaze me to watch them defying everyone and everything. After we visited the “rat temple”, we met a very nice kid from Assam spending his holidays here. He was pretty happy to speak English with us and showed us around town.
Between all of this, Indian food kept me happy 🙂