Friday, 18 September 2009

It begins... Delhi and onwards

Namaste! I'm in a little web cafe in a leafy suburb of Rishikesh right now, having a very slow lazy day, which was what I needed.

Anyway, yeah, blogging... um... where to begin... arriving. Right. so. Ok, yes. Brain function. Ok.

I arrive in Delhi at 10am (flight cancelled, 4 hour wait, funtimes) get 'screened' for swine flu (form saying 'do you have swine flu: yes/no') and head out, get a prepaid taxi to the train station, which is an experience in itself. Indian roads are fairly infamous - I enjoyed every minute of the ride. 2 lane roads holds 4 lanes of cars, rickshaws, bikes, motorbikes, mopeds, cycle rickshaws reversing towards the oncoming traffic, donkeys, cows all wandering/swerving about all over the place, everything honking or mooing incessantly. I actually saw a motorbike park in front of a tree on an empty pavement and beep 3 times. They just can't help themselves!

As soon as I arrive at the train station I realise finding my friend is going to be nearly impossible. There must be 500 people around the entrance, and I get approached several times immediately telling me to go buy tickets at a special foreigners booth (yah, nice try). I figure it's probably not the best place to hang around looking lost, so I head across the street to parahganj (a popular backpacker area in delhi) and end up bumping into my friend in the small winding market streets, we have some food, and book a train to haridwar for that night to end up in rishikesh. We have some time so we go to India's biggest mosque:

Me in a very fetching skirt as shorts weren't allowed (definitely the new fashion, I've always been a trend-setter)

So anyways, we experience some more delhi madness which really is hard to describe... just an all out assault on the senses. Amazing though. And then we get our AC3 train (very nice, beds and sheets, and 8 hour journey, cost less than a fiver) My friend ali tells me about the last train journey he took where a man got into the (very thin) bed with him and started stroking him, so I guess there are possible downsides... (or perks depending on your point of view I suppose)

We meet a very friendly man on the train and talk to him for a while, he tells us he is going to an ashram in Rishikesh (where we are heading) to seek medicine from a guru for his father. He shows us his father's files and it turns out he has untreatable lymphatic leukemia, and is hoping he will find a cure at the ashram. We wish him the best of luck. We meet him again just outside the station in haridwar and he buys us a chai and biscuits and we talk some more, before finally getting a rickshaw to rishikesh, a spiritual city, famous for the beatles' visit in the 60s. We don't plan on too much spirituality, but some peace from the madness of delhi will be welcome.

That's enough for now, but the next installment includes the ganges, buying a motorbike, major 2nd degree burns + infections and lots of tasty curry. Hooray!