It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Delhi for almost a week now. The days have been a blur of sweat, food, and lots of bargaining. Although we haven’t even done a huge amount of sightseeing, it feels like we’re starting to get a feel for the rhythm and (sort of) geography of the city. Just trying to cross the street here is an adventure! (We’ve learned the trick is to find an Indian trying to cross nearby and follow their cue).
But another big part of our experience so far – and of the “vibe” of the city – is all of the other people who are traveling in India. We’ve been staying in a hostel called MadPackers for the last few days – though probably not what you’re picturing when you think of a hostel. We got driven down a tiny narrow alley (while our driver, in typical Delhi fashion, casually swerved to avoid directly incoming traffic), and then walked up three flights of stairs in an ordinary apartment building to find the hostel – a standard apartment converted into a hostel. The “check-in desk” is a few low chairs and a desktop computer. A few bedrooms in the back, packed with lockers and bunk beds, and then a big living room with couches, a huge TV, and, most importantly, AC. It still feels a bit strange to be living in such close quarters with people you don’t really know, and there are plenty of awkward interactions, but it also has a pretty homey feel – certainly very different than when you spend time in a hotel. There’s a sense of camaraderie – an understanding that everyone here could use someone to grab a meal with, get some tips about the next place to travel, or just complain with about the absolutely astonishing heat.
(some pictures of the hostel)
Just a run down of a few of the folks I’ve met here:
– A Ukranian girl who studied philology (yeah I did have to Google that) in college and has been living in Indonesia for the last three years. She told us she accidentally wound up in a tiny village near Rishikesh volunteering with some English people in a local school.
– An Australian man who’s been motorbiking from Australia to London. He was waiting around in the hostel for a few visas before continuing on his way.
– A man from the Czech republic who quit his job to travel around Asia. He said he’d spent too many years working and sitting in front of computers and he needed a change.
– A British man who decided to hitchhike from England to China. He told me that in Kazakhstan you can usually hitch a ride in under ten minutes everywhere in the country.
(Playing uno with people from five different countries = five different sets of rules!)
It could just be that I haven’t done much traveling, but it does seem that the people who make their way to India are often a really fascinating bunch. Tomorrow we head up to Yamuna Nagar, to get a very different type of Indian experience. From what I’ve heard, both from Indians and other travelers, every part of India can feel like a totally different world, so I’m excited to see what the town has in store for us. (Bucket showers and all!)