Morning in the 'ganj
Trip Start Jan 27, 2008
30Trip End Apr 06, 2009
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
The smell of money spent, discarded and burnt paper and packaging, mud and cow manure is noticably sharper and more defined, not masked by the clouds of exhaust belched out by every passing vehicle during busier hours
It is at this time I have always preferred to walk, feet sometimes crunching, sometimes squishing but mostly slapping bare pavement. Not having to weave and bob to avoid fellow pedestrians, rickshaws, cars, cows and motorcycles reminds one of what it once was actually like to be able to walk straight to where one is going without obstruction; the way it is in most western cities. Patience is a way of life in India, and it ain't getting any less crowded. Perhaps the very first lesson one needs learn when visiting this country is that very virtue. It takes time for everything here, get used to it, or get frustrated.
In the cool mist of morning, however, I can take my time or walk fast--it does not matter either way. Down toward the railway station maybe half a kilometer away I see perhaps fifty souls wandering the streets, most on the way to work, it would seem, not bothering to even look twice at a tall bearded fellow headed to the chai stalls at the end of the street.
Indeed it is early, the huge wok-like pans of milk in the first couple of stalls just starting to steam and give off their sweet aroma. "Chai nahin," the man says, gesturing down the alley
5 rupes for a fresh hot drink on a chilly morning, and off I go to get the paper. Mostly in hindi, punjabi, and with a couple in tamil, the paper man also has the Hindustan Times and Asia Today, both in english for the benefit of traveling or expat westerns, or Indians seeking to keep their english-language skills sharp. He sets up every day near the barriers at the entrance to Paharganj, just he and his papers on a little spot of ground big enough for him to sit amongst his wares. I buy both english papers, as he has no change, and I have only a 10 rupee note. "First customer!" he says, with some enthusiasm, "namaste!" Off through the mist again as the first pinkening beyond the buildings rises, back to the Hari Rama for a coffee or three on the rooftop and to catch up on what has been going on in the world for the past few days.
6:30 a.m. and all is well.