Namaste from India! I’m currently writing from the top bunk bed of a sleeper train, but I’ll get back to that later.
My trip from Copenhagen to Delhi was pretty much painless, as I got through customs and onto the (delayed) plane without much difficulty. The flight was great as well, as I pretty much just slept the whole way. In India we were put onto a bus and driven to the airport, where I with only a bit of fiddling got my visa application filled out and went through customs. I found my driver outside after having picked up my backpack, and he turned out to be incredibly kind and genuine, as he spent much of the 1+ car ride talking about his family in Rajasthan and asking me questions about mine. The traffic on the 22 kilometers stretch from the airport to the hotel was baaad, but we did eventually reach hotel Perfect, where I was able to check in not long after arriving. And throughout the whole trip, I had actually been surprisingly calm, only having an internal 10-minute panic right when I said goodbye to my family.
In my room, I just spent the rest of the day relaxing after getting organized and clean, until the Intrepid team meeting at 6 pm. The meeting was great and everyone seemed incredibly nice. And although I’m by far the youngest - the other 8 people’s ages ranging from 27 to 69 - I don't really mind, because everyone seem so easy going. Our guide Harsh (whose actual name is much longer and more difficult to pronounce) seems extremely knowledgeable, kind and funny as well.
Here’s a quick introduction to my group:
There’s two women from Switzerland (Anelyn and Nina), one woman from South Africa (Adri), one woman from the UK (Theresa), two women from Australia (Mish and Jenna) and two men from Australia (John and Richard), as well as of course Harsh (from India) and me on the trip.
After the meeting we followed Harsh to a good Indian restaurant (as he’s desperately trying to keep us from getting ’Delhi belly’), where we ate delicious food after having passed an absolutely insane road. No other place compares to India’s traffic I think, as cars, motorcycles and tuk-tuks were speeding by in 3 lanes each way, and we literally had to stand in a line and then just walk right into the traffic, hoping they would stop for us. The good thing is though, that people in India are masters at stopping in front of or going around obstacles, so there’s not much to be afraid of. That first time really was a leap of faith though.
Everyone seemed to really click at the dinner and back at the room (that I was now sharing with Nina), Nina and I talked for hours before going to bed to the sounds of car horns honking, dogs barking and people shouting. India truly is something else.
This morning we woke up at 6.30 am packing our backpacks as well as day bags and meeting the others for breakfast at 7. I ate a healthy and balanced meal of toast, jam, banana and mango juice. Off we were at 8 o’clock, walking to the metro where we took two trains to Old Delhi. The metros were surprisingly nice, both extremely clean, efficient and easy to use. I would choose it over the London Underground any day!
Picture: Anelyn and Theresa on the metro
In old Delhi, Harsh took us down old streets telling us about the history, culture and religion on the way.
We passed a Hindu temple before stopping at a beautiful Red Mosque, where we had to take off our shoes and were handed a cape to put on before entering. It was a stunning place and the people were very nice, two sweet guys even asked if I would take a selfie with them.
After about 20 minutes though, we continued to a Sikh Temple, where we once again had to take our shoes off and wrap a scarf around our hair before quietly making our way to the back of the beautiful temple to witness a mass.
First picture: Hash helping John with a scarf
After a little while, Harsh took us out the back and into a kitchen were volunteering women and men were cooking lunch for the needy. I sat down to help for a little while, a woman beside we showing me how to roll out the bread.
I don’t really think I was that much of a help though and we were soon on our way once again, taking the metro back to the hotel in time for checkout at 12. We left our bags in the lobby before following Harsh to a delicious South Indian restaurant, where my total meal ended up costing around 10 Danish crowns!
Picture: Jenna and Anelyn
We had a bit of time to spare before the private transport arrived, so decided to take a walk down one of the roads lined with shops and stalls. Luckily I was very quickly getting used to the Indian traffic, easily weaving in and out of it, already knowing when to step aside and when to keep going. Also, the extreme heat actually isn’t as bothersome as I thought it would be - as long as you accept that you will be sweating constantly, it is quite alright, the white fog of pollution keeping the sun from really frying us.
Another thing: holy moly the horrors of India get exaggerated at home! Of course, there is poverty, there are beggars and sellers and noise and trash, but that is such a small part of India (or at least Delhi). I thought I would get kidnapped if I went a Meter on my own, but the majority of people I have met and seen here seems so kind and genuine. Most of the sellers will accept a simple ’no thank you’ and the majority of people seem pretty unfazed by us - those who do stare, simply seeming curious! And I, of course, might have bad experiences later on the trip, but as for Delhi I would feel completely fine traveling on my own - the horror stories are very few in billions of normal, everyday experiences, and I think we sometimes forget that it is sensationalized in the media and that most people are just average.
Anyway, back at the hotel, a private car drove us to the railway station where we stood talking for a while until the 19-hour sleeper train arrived around 5 pm.
We found our seats in 3rd class with AC (me, Harsh, Mish, Andri, Jenna and Theresa being seated together) and we ended up sharing stories, talking and laughing for hours, until people started turning their light off for the night, eating fruit and snacks for dinner.
Picture: Harsh, Jenna and Theresa
And that is why I’m currently writing from the top bunk of a train, as it bumbles away underneath me, not quite sure how I will ever manage to come down from here again, but very content with the cleanliness of the bunk.
It’s only my first real day of the trip, and I am absolutely ecstatic. Everything, from the people to the surroundings to the culture to the food is amazing and I can’t wait for all the adventures ahead.