Delhi. It’s a trap! Lessons in Defeat and Humanity.
The grit, density, and scams of Delhi get old pretty fast. Delhi has a way of sucking the soul (and gut) out of you. It’s an interesting place that requires all of your attention at all times and causes a roller coaster of emotions. Frankly, it’s exhausting.
We decided to deal with it by simply leaving but Delhi has a way of clinging to you. We set off first thing in the morning in search of the train station with a vague idea of where we were headed. As we tried to pass through the station’s entrance that would send us to freedom, men from every corner drug us out, at times, quite physically. They pointed to signs saying no entry and told us we had to go down some street, up some stairs, to some guy, whatever that meant. They showed ID’s in attempt to prove they were trustworthy. They called us their brother and sister. They promised everyone was trying to mislead us and they were, in fact, the only one who could be trusted. All traps! Everyone was trying to make a buck, to bring you to their cousin who will sell you a cheaper ticket, to cash in on your confusion. I started to feel a little like Alice in Wonderland. I began to think I had fallen down the rabbit hole. The truth was a mystery. We were walking in circles. People were speaking in riddles. We were aggressively approached every few seconds. The weight of my backpack, a giant marker for harassment, began feeling heavier with each passing moment and stacking feelings of worry. Finally, after an hour, finding ourselves surrounded by a group, closing in, still yelling rushed advice over our attempt at a logical conversation about what to do, I snapped. I couldn’t take it. These men of Indian culture had clearly not know the wrath of an angry western woman, impatient, tired and with her ugly feminist head rearing. Words raged from my mouth with force, my eyes pierced like daggers, and my arms waved in staccato through the air in attempt to make myself larger than life, larger than them, larger than all men. Back the fuck up! With the force of a live volcano I breathed fire onto them. They quieted and stepped back. We walked away, unfollowed.
Frustrated and at our wits end we finally found reliable help within the comforts of a quiet hotel geared towards businessmen. A calmer hustle happening there than the one just outside the air conditions walls. We stayed to catch our breath, to take a minute. With renewed confidence we headed back out to the streets, to the train station, blowing off all advances, advice, and physical efforts to stop us. We made it! Escaping Delhi was in sight. We celebrated our victory but perhaps a little overzealously and too soon.
Just as we thought we were in the clear and Delhi was behind us, we settled in to our seats on the train none the wiser. Then, Delhi tugged a gentle reminder, a soft wave of nausea. At first just a little, a poke, then a shove, then it thrashed through the flood gates. DELHI BELLY, no doubt.
After days of being constantly swindled and hours spent sick on what felt like an endless train ride, I was on the brink of hating mankind. I trusted no one. I wanted comfort. I endured the ride as best I could, sitting pale-faced and visibly shivering. My hopes for India and for humans sank with the day’s setting sun. And just as I was ready to give up, a man with kind eyes sitting across from me tapped my leg and handed me his blanket, softly restoring my faith in humanity once again, or at least until the next time.