Killing time in Delhi
Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
21Trip End Mar 25, 2009
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The same same gets to me after a while, my feet begin to itch, my eyes scan the horizon for at least a sign of something different. Killing time here in my internet cafe down the narrow alley across from my hotel, I am shaved, packed, and ready to go. There is nothing to do now but wait for the train to mumbai to transport me to another area, and perhaps another mode of transport. I'm a little apprehensive about getting on a bike again, but this I have found is just normal before setting out on the chaos of the Indian highway. Maybe I will get to some of the things I missed last year due to those nasty bugs that took up residence in all parts of my body. So far so good on that account, I think I did my share last year and so will be spared the same tribulations now. One can hope. . .
If in fact this bike comes through, I will have 10 days or so to ride to chennai on the newly constructed pride of India: The Golden Quadrilateral. Delhi to Mumbai, Mumbai to Chennai, Chennai to Kolkata, and back to delhi. Apparently one of the few modern infrastructure projects to grace the subcontinent. That and the metro. We shall see, I suppose, one way or another.
Some things to know about Paharganj for anyone who comes here (and almost everyone does at one time or other):
Everything anyone tells you on the street is a lie. Consider it as such, and discern the truth in any way you know how to.
Do not ever buy anything from a Kashmiri, or anything from the Main Bazaar road. Especially not from both of these.
People will ask in good english "where are you from?" and will invariably say that they have lived there for some time. This is the hustler's way, to disarm you with something in common. The longer the small talk, the bigger the scam.
Find the good places and stay with them. An honest hotelier who does not cheat you thinks in the long term and knows that you will come back, and better, may refer friends. One who cheats is only in it for the short-term cash, dealing rather in volume than loyalty.
Sikhs (except for the "fortune telling" fellow (you will know who he is), are usually plain dealers. They can be haggled with, but generally come through for you. Kashmiris have the job of street hustler, getting people into hotels, supplying "something smoke" and the like. They can be excellent company, and even friends, but they like to take advantage of the less experienced, especially american and european women who develop a crush on these charming, good looking fellows.
As far as the rest of the Indians, they can be a cross between one and the other. Haggling price is usually easier, and they give in faster, but also they are looking for the fast buck and not thinking you will come back. If you find a plain dealer, you stick with him and also help others to find him. This way the good shops get the most business, while the nickel-and-dimers scratch their heads in wonderment.
Explore the back alleys and side streets. This is where you will find the best deals, food, and the most honest folk. Also there is an advantage to not being called out to every few seconds. . ."come my shop!" something smoke? Which country? . . .
Anyone who shows interest in you who is on the main bazaar is surely out for only one thing, to relieve you of a few rupees. Or sometimes much more. You can say "no shop. no something smoke. no nothing," and just keep walking.
Follow these not so simple rules, and you may just survive the activity and chaos of the Pahar ganj. Trust in a newfound "friend," and do so at your own risk.