So far, we’ve been in India for three days and I thought it would be important to have a countdown. Presenting: The Five Most Exiting Things Xavier Has Done so Far:
5. Driving and Crossing Roads
I would like to emphasize how crazy roads in India are. Everything you ever thought to be normal about American roads doesn’t exist here at all. Take for example the lanes. Lanes are symbolic; cars will pull up within an inch of your car or bike and pedestrians are disregarded and must fend for themselves. Do not be surprised to see someone running, either pulling or pushing a cart or little children darting about the lanes to sell roses or Vogue magazines. However, the best thing about this is that I have yet to see a car with a dent.
4. The India Gate
Late in the evening, we visited the Indian version of the National Mall. The highlight was walking around the India Gate, which itself is basically the arc de triumph with a lot more people around it. There were tons of venders who did not accept no as an answer and would follow you until they were convinces to for. But I didn’t reject all of them— one man was selling a little rubber band powered projectile with an attached blue light that is shot into the air and helicopters to the ground. After using all my haggling power to reducing the price by 20 rupees, I ended up shooting it off my balcony of the hotel and left my glowing blue mark on the Indian rooftops.
3. Walking around the Chandni Chowk
The craziness I expected after viewing the neighborhood on Google Maps extremely underestimated reality. Chandi Chock is an awesome looking area that assaults all your senses in a surprisingly pleasant way. Noises are coming from everywhere; beggars, horns, weird little songs that play out of random speakers, and venders. The smell is a mix of incense, campfire, sewer, and crap. The whole place looks bizarre; there are rickshaws and truc-tucs everywhere. The street, which is evidence that trashcans DON’T EXIST, is covered with homeless men, products being sold and tons of people. From my description, Chandi Chock may sound unpleasant, but trust me, its chaos of it is its charm.
2. Going into the Jainist Temple and Mosque
The first place of worship we visited was the Jainist Temple, an ornately decorated building across from the Red Fort. After leaving our shoes behind and washing our hands and feet, we entered the place of worship. In the Jainist Temple, there was a lot of singing and chanting. A common style of prayer was to pick up a candle, place it in your palm, and move it in circles.
The Mosque was a large compound like area that required us to walk through a marble tunnel lined with beggars to reach it. After arriving in the crowded central area, myself and the other men entered a male only holy tomb to see a grave covered in red flower petals and Sufists standing along the walls, praying together.
1. The Backwards Rickshaw Ride
Above all else, the most exiting thing I did on the trip was a ride in a rickshaw. Alex and I sat in the back seats of the rickshaw, which meant that we were holding onto a metal bar and facing away from where we were headed. Our rickshaw driver was crazy. He swerved around card and came close to cars and motorcycles and other bikes, all of which would pull close to our knees. And because we must have looked humorous to people, we started many short-lived conversations with motorcyclists and other bikers. After getting off, I really just wanted to get on and ride again.