I Have Arrived
by Anna Ferguson (JD '08),
I will not be downloading any pictures until Monday as I will not be able to hook my computer up to the internet until I have moved into my apartment. Plus, I have not wanted to look too much like a tourist taking a bunch of pictures while walking around alone. I'll get some of my cute hotel but wait to take pics of the outside until I have someone with me.
I arrived in Delhi about 6am yesterday morning. Immigration took over an hour and people have no respect for who was in line first. I had to remind myself that there was no hurry and I'd get through eventually. I got my luggage easily and was trying to get some money exchanged but they only took cash. I asked if there was an atm and everywhere I went they said yes and vaguely pointed, each person in a different direction. I left the baggage claim and saw the guy holding the sign with my name on it. As we walked to the car a guy came up and grabbed the handle to my suitcase. I said no thanks and held on but he kept pointing at my driver saying "it's ok. my boss" So when the driver looked at him I let go. When they had loaded my bags the new guy says "you tip now" I really would have if I had anything other than a $5 bill, and I knew I should save that for the driver. I kept saying sorry, no money, no foreign money, nothing, sorry. Eventually the driver reached back and across the back seat to close and lock my door. Apparently he wasn't that guy's boss.
I knew I would see cows in the street but for some reason I had envisioned scrawny little females. I thought there was a buffalo or yak standing on the median when we left the airport, but no, it was an enormous brahma bull! I saw four more before we got to the hotel. My great aunt used to raise cattle and I remember her mentioning that brahmas are very aggressive. These ones looked very relaxed, but then they are completely left to do what they want here.
I wanted to ask the driver so many things but we had a great deal of trouble understanding each other so I gave up. Being driven around was quite fun. Although if I had to drive here I would have some sort of anxiety attack I am sure. I must have been loopy from my trip to have enjoyed it so much. Being on the wrong side of the road was nothing. The lines etc. in the road are a waste of paint. If 3 cars, a scooter, and 2 pedestrians can fit, then it doesn't matter that the road is only one lane across. The imaginary safety bubble around your car is much smaller here. I know I get upset if someone drives less than 3 feet from my car. Here one commonly passes with no more than 3 inches of space. Everyone honks. They even have stickers that say "Horn Please" on the back. I think the theory is if you hear a horn you are being passed from either side. If you wish to pass you honk and hope. The only traffic law that I didn't see broken was driving on the correct side of the road. It sounds horrible and I'm sure it is dangerous, but there are so many cars and trucks and rickshaws and bicycles and pedestrians and cows that no one really gets up much speed.
When we got to the hotel, the driver made me give him a tip before we got out of the car. Understandable I guess after the incident at the airport. Thank goodness I had that $5.
After checking in I asked where the nearest atm is. The manager tried to explain but ended up saying he would give me a ride. So he gets on a little motorcycle and I hop on back. (Sidesaddle of course, that is how they are designed here. Luckily I had seen a few ladies on the backs of motorcycles on the way from the airport or I might have embarrassed myself.) The bank was only a couple blocks away and obviously I survived. I do think I'll stick with taxis and rickshaws from here on out.
I had breakfast, watched TV and checked my email then went looking for a place to stay for the rest of my trip. Turns out the place I had been considering is only a few doors down. It took me awhile to find though because I really can't understand much of what people say. The place looks very nice though and I really didn't want to keep looking, so I'll stay there for awhile at least. It appears nicer than my hotel but I told them here I'd stay until Sunday and I don't want to make anyone mad by leaving early. I'll look into it though.
I then slept a few hours, ordered divine food from roomservice, shocked the bellboy with a huge tip (a little over $2, but since the meal only cost $3 I guess it was extravagant) watched Indian MTV and slept until this morning.
I am going shopping shortly. I think having some local clothes might make me feel less obvious. I also wonder if there is something about the clothes people wear here that makes them not show sweat. It really is pretty gross. The heat doesn't bother me so much, but the sweat is awful. I know this is a lot of detail, but it is embarrassing to have the entire back of my shirt and most of the front completely soaked. I didn't notice anyone else that looked like a drowned rat. Perhaps my body will adjust.
Wish me luck!