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Nude Ellie

Written on: Saturday January 24th, 2009

I arrived into New Delhi late in the day.  Not sure what, if anything, would still be open, I hailed a taxi and headed for Paharganj, the main tourist area in the Old Delhi section of town.  I figured I could still get a room somewhere here, even if it was after midnight.  My assumption was correct, and after taking a gander at three guest houses, I settled on the fairly spacious and extremely tidy Royal Guest House.  It's central location meant that I could still get a fantastic dinner, which I frantically scarfed back in the room before falling into a deep, tranquil sleep.

The next morning I met up with two American girls who were staying in the hotel.  Ironically, they both were originally from MN!  We had breakfast together and decided to spend some time seeing the sights.  The first visit was to the train depot, as I needed to arrange for a ride to Agra the next day.  After completeing this task, we all cabbed it to Lal Qila, or the Red Fort.  This place was enormous!  Unfortunately, it was also closed to the public in honor of the upcoming 'Republic Day' holiday.  Dang, that's a tough break.  Keeping ever optimistic, we crossed the road and wandered through the huge bazaar for some shopping, picking our way from stall to stall.  Coming to the end of the bazaar, we were amazed to see a gigantic mosque right in front of us.  In fact, it was the largest mosque in all of India!  The Jama Masjid was an impressive structure that has stood for over 350 years.  We strolled through it before taking a break on the steps to plan out the rest of the day.  While we were sitting there, a figure coming toward the mosque caught my eye.  Could it be?  Yes..it is them!  Chris and Katie appeared as if from nowhere!  I thought that they were in Pakistan already, but apparently they decided to stay in Delhi a bit longer.  Too cool.  A warm embrace reconfirmed the friendship that we created just a few short days ago.  I introduced everybody and after talking briefly, we decided to meet later in the evening for a drink.  Come nightfall Shaina, Alissa, Chris and I all met at the pub for more tales of travel.  Sadly, Katie wasn't feeling well and opted to stay in the room.  We laughed and joked the night away, taking particular revelry with all the cows strolling down the main road.  It was so out of place, but yet it seemed so 'right' in this environment.

The next morning I was off to see the Taj Mahal.  With my hotel situated so close to the train terminal, I had ample time to reflect on Delhi, and India in general, while I prepared for the day.  Some conclusions:

1) India smells like piss.  Everywhere.  This is because the people (men only, as far as I could tell) piss everywhere in public.  They do not go behind a building or a tree, they just piss in the street as people walk by.

2) India is littered with trash.  During the entire time I'd spent in India to date, I had only seen ONE local person make use of a trash bin.  Instead, the people finished whatever it was they were eating or drinking and unceremoniously tossed the remains to their side, completely ignoring any environmental responsibility whatsoever.

3) India is full of beggars.  Having travelled extensively throughout SE Asia, I was used to people trying to sell me things or flat out asking for money.  India was in a league of it's own.  SO many people were destitute, and simply begged all day long.  On the streets, in the train station, in the bus, at the hotel, seemingly everywhere, people were hounding you for baksheesh.  It got old, fast.

4) I like India.  I have many Indian friends who are intelligent and thoughtful and considerate and well-to-do.  However, of all the culturers I have encountered to date, the people of this society seem to struggle the most.  There is no PC way to write it: many people here live like animals.  And I think it is for the simple reason that it is all they can do to survive.

5) To further illustrate the point listed above, I learned that the train tracks had another purpose besides allowing trains to safely travel to their destinations.  Apparently, they were also an accepted public toilet.  And I'm not writing about having seen a couple guys pissing on the tracks.  Nope.  Rather, I witnessed the result of what must have been hundreds upon hundreds of people shitting on the tracks!  It was utterly disgusting.  And to top it off, there were men casually spraying the shit into the nearby sewers, with no qualms whatsoever!  That's right...this appeared to be such an accepted part of culture that full time JOBS were actually created to clean up all the shit.

6) People bathed wherever they could.  If you strolled past a nearby pond you would see, every 30 meters or so, a person stripped down to his skibbies lathering away.  And if there wasn't a pond or lake close, people bathed in the streets.  There were frequent public water taps located on the side of the streets in the cities I had visited so far.  At almost every one of these I saw at least one person bathing.  And often times there were women doing laundry right along side of them.

I think perhaps you might see a pattern here.  As much as India intrigued me, it was also difficult to get through some things that are a daily and accepted part of life for the common man.  I suppose that is one of the joys of traveling, and I was truly satisfied to have experienced it all.


From brita on Jun 24th, 2009

I just read tons of your blog entries and I absolutely LOVE them. I love how you see and experience things!