Well, I’ve been here now for just three days but it seems like I’ve been here for a couple of weeks at least. I am now sitting in my room with Tata Photon+ mobile broadband service stick which my friend is lending to me whenever I want it so that I can use internet in my room. The wifi services here are not working well enough for me to take advantage of them in my room, so this is a real blessing from him to me. I am listening to lovely Israeli folkdancing music (which I love), and eating Besan Ladoo…which I also love!! Heaven on earth.
I honestly haven’t felt like writing since I arrived, but have many things written in bits and pieces in my notebook….hope to eventually get them all up here. And to my great surprise, I haven’t taken (hardly) any photos either. But I won’t force anything to “happen”. Just flowing with things as they go.
I arrived in Delhi on Wednesday morning at 4:30, with my friend M. We were picked up by a taxi which I had ordered previously and began our journey to Rishikesh. And to my great surprise, it took a long time for me to feel like I was actually in India! Everything has changed so much over the past year and 8 months. It took hours before my friend had her first traumatic meeting with Indian culture shock. She was beginning to become complacent, maybe even bored, but India being India…it will finally find its way to you in all of its glorious, and not so glorious ways!!
At the airport there was no initial assault on the senses as there used to be. We could have been in any lovely airport in any country in the world. The new terminal has nothing to give you the feeling that you are truly back in India. My friend was pleasantly surprised, and happy, but I was actually disappointed. . Pleased of course that progress is moving things forward, India as always moves ahead while standing still….But I wanted desperately to “feel” India on a gut level, in my soul!
We were taken to our taxi, and to my total astonishment, there was AC working!! And it worked most of the journey to Rishikesh! Quite unbelievable. Not only is it obviously more comfortable during a hot drive, but it keeps all of the dirt and dust out of the car!
I was already told that the new highway is open and running between Delhi and Rishikesh, but had no idea what to expect. Well, the first 150 KM of the 250 KM journey took under 2 hours, Then we stopped for breakfast and toilet and lovely Cheetal Resort. When we got back in the car, the driver explained that the highway only continues for another 10 KM and then we are back on the old road for the last 90 KM of the trip to Rishikesh.
So, finally, we would “feel” India!! The highway is approached through a bypass road from the airport, so we didn’t even get to ride through Old Delhi or New Delhi on our way out of the city. And all of the hussle-bussle was truly missed by me.
Once off the main highway however India finally “hit” with full force. I was ecstatic, my friend traumatized. We were back to the horror and magic that is travel on Indian roads. (You might remember the previous post- Rules of the Road).
The last 90 KM took well over 3 hours of nerve-wracking driving, noise, smells, near death passes, a cacophony of humanity coming to life in the morning hours. Just wonderful! But my poor friend! I think you NEVER forget your first drive on Indian roads. Just like you never forget childbirth (!). It finds a place of honor in your soul and stays there forever, but hidden enough to allow you to venture onto the roads again for travel in the future!!
I am going to end this post here so that I can finish it up and post it. And hope to continue either tomorrow or later today with one more catch up post about our first two days here. They have been a blur of sensory, culinary and physical stimulation…exploring, showing my friend the local sights and also how to find her own way around, eating wonderful food, enjoying the perfect weather, see all my wonderful friends again and just feeling peaceful and tranquil and back home after much too long.