“Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony” Gandhi

Now that I’m back on the travelling Road (this time just for a few weeks😞) I thought I’d go back to the oul blogging. It really does help to process what I am experiencing and how I feel about it; apologies if that’s not what you clicked on for!

India – what a place! It is like nowhere I have been before. To sum up the parts we’ve seen so far in one word – NUTS!!!!

We arrived to the capital Delhi which before coming people said it’s best to leave till the end so you can acclimatise yourself to India then face the real madness, we did it the other way around #rebels. So trying to brace ourselves as much as possible we left the airport, found our kind faced driver got into his car which stunk of pee and drove to our hotel. Through the crazy traffic (7 lanes of traffic trying to drive in 3lanes with no sense of order or rules; there were a good few near misses on our first journey) we began to get an idea of the madness people were warning us of! Throughout that journey and our next few days in Delhi there was definite moments of feeling overwhelmed. The large scale of smells, colours, poverty, people, traffic, noise, kids, rubbish, busyness……made nothing seem relaxed yet no one appeared over stressed or anxious except, at times, us!

Gandhi's cemetery
Gandhi’s cemetery

Determined to do this trip solo with no arranged tours or group travelling we set out to buy train tickets at the station for our onward journeys. The travel agent in our hotel informed us it is very difficult to get train tickets and tried to sell us a package deal with train tickets and accommodation in the next two locations. The price was OK by our standards but having spent a day at the markets with locals adding a few 000s onto our prices and managing to bargain a pair of hippy trousers for £1.50, we knew we were getting ripped off. So we woke optimistic and set off to the train station. We’ve all travelled a bit and we’re confident we could do this; how hard could it be? Turns out very hard! Foreigners don’t get their tickets where the locals do at the station apparently they are sold on the next floor which, we were informed by a very well dressed polite man is under reconstruction and we should go to the tourist information in Connaught Place in the city centre. We were a bit dubious about this advice as we’d been warned about people approaching us at the station and that we’d end up with fakers. When we ignored this man and went to go to the next floor we seen it was closed off with barbed wire, with little/no chance of getting through so we left the station and went in search of the tourist info at Connaught Place. We were approached by various men at different times of this journey each ‘warning’ us of danger and advising us of where we needed to go to find tourist info. This ended up being many wild goose chases with us being brought to fake tourist info centres, never finding the official government one labeled on the map and us losing trust in every person in Delhi and faith in humanity as a whole! After a draining day we reluctantly admitted defeat and went back to the travel agent at the hotel and handed over the cash which, judging by the smile on his face I guess was close to his yearly salary! To be fair we have since had a smooth journey thanks to his organising, sometimes admitting defeat is a blessing in disguise!

Jama Masjid Mosque
Jama Masjid Mosque

Thankfully my faith in humanity was somewhat restored the next day when we got a city tour with a charity Salaam Baalak  they work with Street kids who for whatever reason have ended up living on the streets of Delhi. They provide a safe alternative to the drugs, gangs and prostitution life that Street kids are often at risk of. We got a great tour of the city, and information on what life is like for a street kid in Delhi as well  as the incredibly valuable service the charity provide to 1000s of street kids. Our guide was a 17 year old young man who shared his story. He ran away from his abusive father in rural India in search of a better future in Delhi, a very common motive for kids we were told. He gained a valuable education, has great friends and dreams of becoming a professional tourgiude and visiting USA ‘The land of opportunities’ lol 😁 The charity takes volunteers and donations check out the link below 

http://www.salaambaalaktrust.com/

IMG_20150731_151950

We have come to realise India is not a well travelled country. The very few other ‘foreigners’ are never hard to miss. Dressed like us head to toe in baggy clothes with elephants on them being harassed by the shop keepers selling the same clothes; we often give the nod of foreigner comradary.

The reaction we have received from the locals is celebrity like with many people behaving like they have never seen a westerner (reminds me of the Tajik days!) People want their picture taking with us, kids wave and the general public studying our every move as though we are animals in the zoo (including this guy sitting beside me right now on the train who hasn’t took his eyes off my phone and still isn’t lookin away now that I’m typing about him! Am I getting robbed when we get off or is it just fascination, who knows!) While this is quite bizzar it is generally very positive and welcoming. However the flip side is that everyone thinks we are mega rich, which in comparison we probably are. In such a class divided society with extreme poverty this makes us quite vulnerable which I completely understand. If I was bringing up my kids on the side of a motorway and these rich girls pass with what I perceive to have an endless supply of money of course I’d try and get some. Being perceived as the rich of a society and so the top of the class division is not a feeling that sits well with me but an experience none the less. I believe every person is as important and valuable as the next however walking past people who look like they are dead at the edge of the street reminds me things are much more complex than this simplistic ideology and our world is, in many ways fucked!

Outskirts of Delhi
Outskirts of Delhi

Over the past week I have went through a roller-coaster of feelings (as you can probably tell from this blog!) This has reminded me why I absolutely love travelling. Even in the moments when the 4 of us were questioning if we were being drove to our death after our driver took us the long way home through the mountains while under the influence of something dodgy and asking us ‘how much would your parents pay if you were kidnapped haha! Haha? Or we’ve been lied to/ripped off for the tenth time that day and just want to hear some truth or we’ve walked past 100s of streetkids and felt absolutely powerless as to how I can help them then guilty that I grab my bag when they approach. These experiences develop a part of myself that I didn’t know existed. In Jo Hari’s theory of self awareness there’s a panel called the Unknown Self. This is things you don’t know about yourself and others don’t know either. I used to find this hard to get my head around, it never really made much sense. But I suppose thinking about this life journey of self exploration/discovery/creation it makes perfect since. Only through experiencing new weird and wonderful things will I develop my awareness of my unknown self and learn who I am in this world, amongst many other discoveries. And with so many new experiences out there still do to I understand why this is a journey which takes a lifetime! Cheesy blog #Soz #notsoz

White chicks blending in at the Taj
White chicks blending in at the Taj
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