And then I cried...

Trip Start Nov 24, 2011
Trip End Jan 24, 2012

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Where I stayed
Treetops Homestay
What I did
New Delhi Market and Train Station

Flag of India  ,
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Flight from Istanbul was interesting…an Indian gentleman in the row behind me got IRRATE because they had run out of Johnny Walker Black Label. They should know better than to only put two bottles of that stuff on a plane to Delhi.  Everyone knows East Indians LOVE Black Label!  Got myself a reasonable amount of rupees from the ATM at the airport (highly recommend you get as much as you can at one time, if possible, because it may take another 3 or 4 ATMS before you find one that works!)

Got to my guesthouse, Treetops, REALLY early (6a).  The owners are a couple and soooo sweet.  Tannie greeted me at the door, told me my room wouldn't be ready until 10a, but let me use another room to freshen up and rest until breakfast.  I absolutely LOVE this place!  Treetops is very quaint and in a great neighborhood, close to the metro (subway).  Tannie and Murad are amazing.  They sit and have breakfast with you, and help you plan your day.  Plus, very knowledgeable on history and cultural (both Tannie and Murad have written books).  Highly recommend staying here.  I kept saying "thank you" every 2secs…which Tannie told me they don’t say in India because if you say it too much, it seems insincere.  So, don’t say “thank you” if someone is just doing their job!  LOL  Too cute.

I had planned on going on a tour of New Delhi given by a former street child.  But, I couldn’t find the place!  Navigated the metro (subway) okay, but when I came up in New Delhi, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people, noise, and garbage.  I knew there was no way I was going to be able to find the place I was looking for on my own.  Started asking people where the Buddhist Retreat Center was and was told “go that way…it’s two streets away on the right” by one person.  Got to that point…it wasn’t there, so asked someone who told me, “go over the bridge, through the train station, go left and straight”, which was the opposite direction of what the first person told me.  Started to go that way and asked someone else, and he said it was to the RIGHT across the bridge.  I’m a quick learner…didn’t take me long to realize that in India, it’s rude to tell someone you don’t know, so you just make it up which usually includes some great elaboration.  Mind you, they don't point with their finger here either, so they use their entire arm which makes "that way" anywhere within the radius of an arm movement.  And, Eastern Indians do this head thing that's like a "yes" and a "no" at the same time.  So, if you say, "that way?"  They make a figure 8 with their head which I still am trying to figure out exactly what it means.

Needless to say, I missed the tour, but DID find a place that would sell me a SIM card for my phone so I could contact home.  Alright…I’m going to tell you right now that I was told this was very easy to do.  It’s NOT.  You need a copy of your passport, which I didn’t have, so the shop owner called some random guy over to take my passport and get a copy.  I would NEVER let someone walk away with my passport, but it all happened so quickly and not understanding what he was doing because of the language barrier, off the little guy ran with my passport!  Praying that it wouldn’t get sold on the black market and there would be some Indian woman running around the U.S. claiming to be “Bridget Thomas”, I started to get really nervous.  What the hell was I doing travelling to INDIA for my first solo trip abroad?!?!?!  Of all places to choose to be my first!  Why couldn’t I have chosen Ireland…or Italy…or France?!?!  India?!?! 

My worries came to rest when my passport (and a copy) returned and a 12yo wearing a bodyguard shirt showed up.  Yes!  I was saved.  I had my own personal bodyguard!  Or so I thought…

They asked me for a passport size photo!  Really??!?!?  Who carries those around?  They wouldn’t cut the pic out of the copy of my passport, so I went (with my bodyguard) to find another shop that would.  Took 2 more shops (and a chai) before we found one that would sell me a sim without an actual passport size photo and negotiated a pretty good price.  They ended up cutting out my pic from the copy and said it was fine…another lesson learned about India.  Things are VERY inconsistent here.  So, had my sim card in my phone, BUT the unlock code I had from T-Mobile in the states was too long.  The unlock code for the sim was 8 numbers.  T-Mobile gave me one with 12.  And, I was told I only had 15m to get the correct code.  Not sure what would happen if I didn’t get the correct code, but didn’t want to find out!

By this time, it was starting to get dark.  Knew I didn’t want to be out after dark, so decided to head back to Treetops.  Got off at the Haus Kauz stop I got on, went up the stairs, and this was NOT the same place!  Went back down and then out the other exit.  This wasn’t it either!  Uh oh…again…what the f-ck had I done and what was I doing making INDIA my first solo trip choice?   Thought maybe I had gotten off at the wrong stop.  I was tired, after-all, and didn’t really pay attention to the stop name, just thought it would be Haus Kauz because that was the address of where I was staying.  So, got a ticket to the next stop (it’s a good thing that the line for women’s security is MUCH shorter than the man’s side on the metro!), got off at the next stop, came up outside smack dab into the middle of a bazaar with thousands of people.  This was DEFINITELY not my stop.  Went down to ask for directions and then remembered my experience with that earlier in the day and decided I would just take an “auto” (an auto-rickshaw) back.  The driver was more than happy to take me so he could practice his English…and get a picture of me.  Something I later learned was going to be the most asked question I’d get while I was in Delhi.

As soon as I got “home”, I went into my room, locked the door, and cried.  If I would have asked for the wireless code for the internet earlier, I probably would have been checking into prices for flights back home.  I really felt like I got in WAAAAAY over my head with this and I was starting to get really homesick.  Decided I would take a hot shower, have some chai, get a good night’s sleep and decide what to do in the morning.  Needless to say, I didn’t take many pictures in New Delhi.  I was actually so overwhelmed with all the sights, sounds, and smells (not very nice ones, either) that I didn’t feel comfortable taking pics and being distracted.
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