November 13th, 2006 – by: condoug
A view of our truck from the roof of the Arpit hotel
First things, first. We made it to New Delhi, and all our luggage too. A friend from work (Garpartap) was right, all you need to do is go to the pre-paid taxi booth next to the money exchange and hire a taxi, all this right in the airport as you leave the immigration area. It worked great, we did have a bit of a time finding the actual cab, as there were many of them parked haphazardly, but we were helped by an eager fellow, who, for a small tip found our cab. The next thing you realize your on the roadway, heading north into New Delhi. Nothing can prepare you for the experience. The "fog" was incredible.
Gettting ready to head out on the first day
It smells like burning garage and the smoke is so thick that you can't see 12 feet away. At first it was like smoking a cigerette with every breath you take. Actually, smoking would likely be healthier. It's like a cross between Mad Max, Blade Runner and one of those really bad Indian movies. Everyone said that it has been particulary thick this weekend. Some feature of Global Warming ( no doubt) with the daily low temperatures 4 degrees higher than normal. My recommendation is to buy stock in any company that makes fog lights or surgical masks. It took about 40 minutes to get to the hotel from the airport, they drive on the left here so at first I was confused. After the inital shock, we were just plain old scared.
some of the locals gather to see us off
The traffic is best described as a free-for-all. Traffic laws are treated here more like rough guidelines, not rules to obeyed or broken. According to our tour driver the Indian driver drives with wreckless abandon when they have several people in the car. This is because of Karma. If an Indian driver is alone, he is careful because it might be his time to die, but if there are several people, they are most likely safe because the gods wouldn't kill them all at the same time. This is why it is unwise to travel by buses in India. About a block from our hotel, ( and this is about 12:30 in the am), in the pitch black and fog, our poor little black and yellow cab is driving around searching for the hotel, what should wander out of the smog, but 3 cows, complete with horns and boney haunches and the whole bit. It was like something out of a dream. The cab driver only stopped twice to ask where the hotel was, Doug remembered it was across from the Jesse Ram hospital, and the driver found it. He did an amazing job of getting us to the hotel, I think they drive by instinct here, they have too. Well, we made it to our Arpit Palace Hotel... Our room was waiting , they staff were friendly, with ice cold bottled water waiting for us. Inside the smog was less noticable, but the overwhelming lingering odor of the outside seeps in from everywhere, we have had our air-conditioning on in our room since we first got here and now it is like a little refuge from the outside smells. All though our driver Nick (who we met today) says we will get use to the smells and notice it less and less. At the time, I think he is Wrong. We are at an internet place about 3 blocks from the hotel, and yes, you walk around open sewage on the streets and such rotting and fetid smells and sights that it is impossible to think where the smell originates from. The horns of the cars are always honking, that is how they communicate in their cars. We are in an area called Karol Bagh, to the west of the centre of New Delhi. It has lower cost hotels, schools and small markets, all the people are busy though, not like the middle east were the are a lot of fellows lounging about, here everyone you see it doing something. Like the teenage girl Doug saw, squatting on the edge of the street in the filth, and sorting through old bits of newspaper which will be recycled. Nick the driver says everything here is recycled, and I believe him. Everything here is somewhere in the great cycle of things, either born or living , dead or dying...