After a tearful goodbye in Switzerland, I finally started my long awaited trip on Sunday. I flew via Moscow to New Delhi and was very relieved that I managed to make it for the connecting flight because SVO is not really one of my favourite airports. Anyway, after a 13-hour journey, I finally arrived in the Indian capital and was immediately confronted with the hustle and bustle of Delhi. I was hoping that the passport and visa control would be a quick thing as I arrived at 3:30 in the morning, but my expectations were not met. I was so incredibly happy to see my driver after waiting for more than hour. Subhash, a very kind and generous man, took me to my B&B where I fell asleep immediately.
After a good night’s sleep, Subhash picked me up at 1pm for lunch. He joined me for my first proper meal in India and recommended Dal Makhani, Palak Paneer and Naan. Needless to say that it was soooo good!!! I had been so excited for the Indian food and was thus very happy that my expectations were met. After lunch, I met Pratima, my guide for the afternoon, in Old Delhi.
Together with Pratima, I explored Dariba Kalam (silver market), Kinari Bazaar (wedding market), Paranthewali Galli, Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib and Jama Masjid. My personal highlight was Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib. It’s not only one of the nine historical gurdwaras (place of worship for Sikhs) of Delhi but also a shelter for many people who seek company or food. The house attached to the gurdwara has a big kitchen and a room for people to grab food. 40’000 meals are served every day. Everyone is welcome, regardless of religion, ethnicity or income. Countless volunteers prepare the meals on a daily basis. This institution and the service they offer to the people of Delhi touched me deeply.
By that time, I was already well aware of the craziness of Delhi traffic. There are no rules! Every driver’s most important instruments are the horn and/or the headlight flasher. It’s basically a cacophony of car horns. Cars, tuktuks, rikshas and motorbikes are overtaking from both sides in high speed. Fortunately, Subhash is driving because I would already have crashed the car a thousand times… Yesterday’s traffic was particularly bad! For a distance that would normally take 50min, it took us over 2 hours! After a delicious dinner I was very happy but also exhausted. Even though I had every reason to fall asleep immediately, I didn’t. Too many thoughts occupied me!
After a delicious breakfast the next morning, Subhash drove me to various sights with Muslim background since the story of Delhi has been highly influenced by the Muslim culture.
For me, the most impressive monument was Humayun’s Tomb, the tomb of Mughal Emperor Humayun whose first wife commissioned this monument to commemorate her husband.
Another favourite of mine was Lodi Gardens – an oasis in the middle of the urban jungle! Akshardam, a Hindu Temple, is also an absolute must-see!
Tomorrow, another dream of mine will come true: I’m flying to Leh, a city in the Himalayas! After two days in chaotic and vibrant Delhi, I’m excited for a change of scenery. I’m curious to see how I will react to the altitude.
So far, the people in Delhi have met me with a lot of curiosity but also respect. I was told in advance that my tallness and fair skin would attract attention and I was thus prepared. Nevertheless, I was surprised about the extent of attention. However, I was never touched or photographed without having been asked first. While driving through the streets of Delhi and talking to people, it becomes apparent that many people in Delhi, or in India in general, have a tough life and struggle on a daily basis. Talking about travelling and going abroad, my driver, Subhash, said: “It’s just a dream.” And I believe him when he says that it’s a dream that is almost impossible to fulfil. Not everyone has the privilege of education, many children and adults beg or sell stuff on the streets. This is thought-provoking and makes me appreciate even more what I have! We should stop moaning about our lives or things that we CAN change because there are millions of people who do not have the privilege to change their situation. We should bear this in mind every time we consider ourselves unhappy or unfortunate!
Hopefully, all goes well in the Himalayas so that I can write about my adventures in the Indian mountains very soon! Fingers crossed! Talk to you soon!
Homestay: Tree of Life
Sights: Old Delhi Bazaar, Jama Masjid, Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib, Qutb Complex, Lodi Gardens, Humayun’s Tomb