Chapter 2: The Delhi Struggle

It was a scorching summer day and the horns’ piercing persistence woke me. I walked down to the common area of the hostel and waited for breakfast to begin. I was eager to start exploring the city, but prior to diving into the New Delhi beast, intel had to be gathered. What I love about big cities is that they offer varieties of options and this one, while still big, chaotic, and dirty, would prove to not be an exception. I was optimistic…

After eating breakfast and stringing a conversation with other guests, I made my way to my room, changed, and delved right into the pandemonium. Catching the subway so early in the morning was not in my interest, so I caught a tuk-tuk and told the driver to take me towards the Red Fort. As he drove me to my destination, I couldn’t help but notice trash scattered EVERYWHERE like sand on a beach. Once I got out of the vehicle, I roamed around and immediately was overwhelmed by the amount of poverty. People begging out on the sidewalks with missing limbs or deformities abundantly roamed the city. Dogs all around had either a depressed look or seemed extremely sick. Even worse, children coming up to ask for money in such an unsanitary environment made New Delhi difficult to navigate. I couldn’t help but question: why is this still going on in today’s society? The culture shock was real and would take some time for adjustment. I made my way to the Red Fort and after a brief analyzation of the place, I left and headed down the street. Thirty minutes later, I concluded best to leave and get back to the hostel where I could later take the city tour they offered with an expert guide. The summer heat was suffocating; relaxing in an A/C room while managing to chat with folks I had met earlier on in the day was what I opted for. What I love about hostels is that one can meet so many people from all walks of life, from all over the world; perfect for a single, adventurous traveler like me.

The tour promptly began at 5:30PM. Me and two other individuals sheepishly followed our guide around New Delhi where he showed us some “scenic” spots which included a Sikh Temple, Connaught Place, and the bazaar near Rajiv Chowk train station. Touring the city with a guide proved to be a really good choice as it can be quite overwhelming. We all promptly returned to the hostel at 9:30PM where I quickly showered and went to sleep. 

Next day I woke up early and decided to tackle the city by myself. I ate breakfast, changed, and made my way to the subway station at approximately 9:30AM where I would witness people being shoved into the subway cars by the New Delhi police. Rush hour had not concluded and after I waited for two subway trains where I wasn’t able to get into either of them, I, along with two girls I had met at the hostel who had been having a hard time trying to get into the cars as well, decided to catch a tuk-tuk instead. Once we finally managed to hop onto one, we made our way into the city as rain begun to descend upon us. In a matter of minutes, we were soaking wet and instead of trying to shelter ourselves from the rain, we chose to embrace it. We laughed and played as huge drops of water descended and collided with our skin while making our way towards one of Delhi’s most famous bazaars. After an hour or so, the pouring rain ceased and we ended up going our separate ways. I managed to make my way back to the hostel where I washed my feet ASAP since my shoes had been soaked in rivers containing lord knows what kinds of pestilences and being that I’ve watched the show “Parasites Living Inside Me,” leaving them unwashed was not an option. I then relaxed and decided I’d chill for the rest of the day before showering and calling it a night.

By day two, I was practically over the city and was ready to move on to my next destination. The Delhi struggle was real; this city had slapped me across the face showing me India would be a challenge. It stimulates ALL your senses to the MAX and that it is what makes it so draining particularly if one is not used to the this amount of chaos and disorganization. Keep in mind, I’ve lived in/near New York City, and have traveled to MANY big cities in the world, but this one in particular was a completely different animal. Consequently, I also decided to lay low the following day while opting to strike up conversations with my hostel roomies. I did manage to go to a mall that was far away from the city which I really enjoyed. It was A LOT quieter and offered some really good quality products which I indulged on; plus, it wasn’t touristy and had very little turmoil. 

Three nights/ three and a half days in New Delhi was probably a bit much. Looking back I, probably would have started off my trip with just two days prior to continuing on to the next destination. I heard the north is VERY different and am looking forward to breathing some clean air while laying low and working on a couple of side projects. My arrival in New Delhi made me realize that I would indeed be needing flushable toilet wipes, lots of antibacterial, and bleach cleaning towels. Oh, and LOTS of bottled water. Besides making me appreciate what I have in life, New Delhi exposed some ugly truths I’m not sure I was ready to see. It showed me how important it was my generation do something to empower forthcoming generations to create a cleaner, healthier planet. But how? How could such a big city be polished into something greater when perspective seems so limited and greed so abundant? Although poverty runs rampant in India, the potential is here. This country contains such rich culture with amazing history, delicious food, beautiful artistry, and so many other beauties it can share with the world. That being said, I couldn’t wait to leave Delhi and go towards my next stop: Agra. I had a feeling I’d enjoy India more the further away I got from this chaos… However, that had yet to be seen.

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