I spent my last day in Kuala Lumpur booking a couple of flights and lounging by the sweet pool at my hotel, before boarding the 5 hour flight from KL to Delhi at 7pm.
Some of you might be wondering what the hell I’m doing in India. The short story is I have an uncle, Bruce, who’s been living in the north of India for around 20 years, doing paragliding with tourists. I’ve never been to India before and what better opportunity to visit a country than when you’ve got a local contact. The plan is to be in India for 4 weeks. Bruce is going to teach me how to paraglide in the foothills of the Himalayas, around the towns of Manali and Bir in the north, where he lives.
So I arrived at 9pm at night and had my first Indian bureaucracy experience, getting my visa on arrival, which is a relatively new visa option and only available to not many countries (NZers, Japanese and a few others). Hrm, I see on that page it’s US$40, I got charged US$60. Was I ripped off before I even set foot in the country?
Bruce picked me up from the airport and we headed back to his hotel in Delhi, the ‘Prince Polonia’. Once there the first thing I was offered wasn’t water, a drink, food or a snack, but a pipe. Welcome to India!
After Bruce and his girlfriend crashed out, I went out to try find a beer and some cigarettes.
You expect the first time you walk the streets of India to be quite a culture shock, and in my dazed jet-lagged state I was doing my best to contain my excitement and amusement, so hence all the swearing in the video.
It’s 12 or 1 in the morning and just about everything’s closed but there’s still heaps of activity on the street.
After that I found a bar and met 2 drunk French backpackers smoking outside and chatted with them. Pretty soon we were drinking out on the street and surrounded by dozens of friendly Indian guys who were all interested in hearing my life story: Where you from? How long you been in India? 2 hours!? You having a good time? When you leave? The guys were lovely but I wasn’t sure if some of them were hitting on me or not. Hoping they weren’t. We had lots of laughs though and everyone thought I was funny.
Amongst everyone but ignored by all, some construction workers were loading up baskets of sand and carrying them on their heads into a building. To the amusement of the locals I put my beer down and tried picking up one of the sand-loaded baskets and it was bloody heavy and unwieldy – it wouldda weighed about 30kg. I hoisted it up onto one of the carrier’s heads and off he went.
The French dudes were trying to organise a session of something, I wasn’t sure what, at some random’s apartment somewhere, and I was semi-keen but also hesitant to tagalong. It was my first night in India after all. The situation was getting dodgier and dodgier as the night wore on and we got further and further from my hotel. Marco, one of the French dudes was getting a bit macho-drunk and cheeky with some of the locals and he asked me if I was carrying a knife on me just in case. Wha?? Then he changed his tune a bit – “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine, you know why? Cos you’re white. If you have any problems all you need to do is start yelling and make a scene and it’ll all dissolve. The police will beat the shit out of any of these locals if they’re hassling you.”
OK cheers mate, how about you just behave yourself and not get yourself into those hairy situations, I’m thinking. And what was all that shit about a knife?
I called it a night not long after that; by then the streets had emptied out except for the construction workers, all of whom were getting their hands dirty, yet they were attired in dress pants and dress shirts with the sleeves rolled up!? Go figure…
Both sides of the street were lined with people sleeping, which actually looked quite comfortable – it was so hot outside you could sleep quite nicely and it wouldda been cooler than inside. Not that many of them had a choice.
Back in my hotel but by now I was so overtired I was past sleeping and I couldn’t sleep til like 5am. I must have had only about 9 hours sleep total over the last 3 nights.
Up the next day at 9am and a bit of shopping, Delhi-style. Watch your step:
What blog would be complete without the standard Indian tangled power lines shot:
Bruce and me: