Posts Tagged ‘tuk-tuk’

Recently we – hubby and I, along with four other friends – returned from a week in Delhi. Two days later my ears  stopped ringing. Man, that place is epically manic.

Delhi is vibrant, noisy, smelly (of the good and off variety), noisy, mostly friendly, noisy, dusty, noisy, almost colourful if it wasn’t for the dust, noisy, tasty, noisy, cheap-ish, noisy, traffic rule-less and, did I mention, noisy.

Old Delhi. A crazy, vibrant place that launches a full assault on all the senses.

India is noisy

The simple car/truck/bus/tuk-tuk/cycle rickshaw hooter/bell contributes handsomely to the level of noise that attacks the ear of the visitor with joyful abandon. Hooters aren’t tooted in an act of aggression, as they generally are in my hometown. Rather, they are used as a courteous but firm way to communicate with the driver of another vehicle that you intend to cut him off in more or less 0.003 seconds and he really ought to be perfectly okay with that since he’s not going to be given much of a say. Cars, bikes, buses, trucks, wagons and all manner of transport not restricted to tracks or thermals, bob and weave around each other in a symphony of madness while traveling in vaguely the same direction, chopping and changing globally accepted traffic rules to suit the moment at hand. That’s how a two lane road can sprout another lane or two, using the solid white line as a handy guide; and that’s how traffic lights become nice enough suggestions but not quite ultimate authority.

Our prefered mode of transport.

Yet, with all that [noisy] chaos, we didn’t witness one accident. Okay, not one that required police assistance or first aid. A few light encounters, yes, but the drivers seemed to take these in their stride. There were, however, roughly 65 000 near misses per kilometre.

This mom was on the back of a scooter, holding a baby in her arms with no hands free to hold on to anything else. And traffic was hectic.

India is smelly

Spices (love them), incense (loathe them) and dog poo concoct a perfume that is at first a tad overwhelming, but soon settles into familiarity. Even though the pollution levels are apparently down since Delhi’s buses and taxis  have been converted from diesel to gas, it’s still hazy/foggy/smoggy and blue sky wasn’t a common sight – at least it wasn’t in the week we were there.

India is dusty

While I’m glad it didn’t rain buckets, the layer of dust on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g begged for a high-pressure hose pipe to wash things down a bit. Those poor plants, trying to soak up a helping of photosynthate through a choking layer of dust was quite quite sad. There’s a huge park across the road from the hotel in which we stayed, which would’ve been a lovely place if it wasn’t that the flowers, the leaves, the benches, the trees, the paths, the grass all seemed embarrassed to be caught in their dust-gear.

India is mostly friendly

Personally I found the men to be friendlier than the women, but that’s just a gross generalisation. Since we’ve been back I’ve been aware of how I treat tourists in my ‘hood, of whom there are plenty, and I’m not always little miss sunshine either. I shall try to remedy that.

The spectacular Humayun's Tomb in New Delhi.

India is cheap-ish

Shopping was an interesting experience. For one thing, I had to stop gasping for air when prices crept into the thousands. I wouldn’t buy a 700 rupee silk scarf until I hauled out my 6x table and figured that a little over 100 SA rands for a pure silk scarf from an upmarket store was probably a good deal. I can now divide any figure by six at the drop of a hat. Textiles are fabulous, tableware is fabulous, shoes are bling-bling, jewellery takes bling to a whoooole new level, the markets take manic up twenty notches, and haggling is expected as in:

How much does this cost?
Two hundred rupees.
What? That’s too much. One hundred rupees.
Noooo. Okay, we make it one-ninety (like we’d just agreed on the price, the goods are shoved in a plastic bag, ready for hand-over…).
Eventually, after more negotiation and a mock walk-off, we settle on an aggrieved one-fifty and get a my-kids-will-be-going-to-bed-hungry-and-it-will-be-on-your-head look to boot.

India is tasty

Despite a serious lack of fresh salad, which we were warned against as we couldn’t be sure that the ingredients had been rinsed in filtered water and not the Delhi-belly bacteria-bearing tap water, we ate up a veritable storm. Let it be said, though, that it will be quite alright if a bowl of butter chicken and the accompanying naan bread didn’t make it onto my dinner table for, let’s say, two years. Yummy as it was, a week was enough, hey. One night we hopped onto the surprisingly clean, modern, efficient Metro to pay a visit to Karim’s in Old Delhi, which is almost four million times more manic than New Delhi. Travelling down the drag in a cycle rickshaw it felt more like we were trespassing on a movie shoot than real life. The narrow road was lined with teensy-weensy shops and street chefs cooking and baking anything from mouthwatering chicken, breads and things that defy description and would, I’m sure, give you an express journey to the afterlife.

A colourful array of fabulous chilies.

India is lovely

Dusty, smelly and noisy as it is, India is lovely and given the opportunity to return, I shall do so at the drop of a hat. I’ve seen but the smallest part of a vast and diverse country and I hope that I’ll have a chance to dip into more of its crazy, colourful, vibrancy. No wonder it’s referred to as Incredible India!