I’ve been in New Delhi for two days now and I’m in an utter state of culture shock. On my way to my hotel from the New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport, there were many stray dogs sleeping on the sidewalks, but what’s more shocking is that there were more homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks then any stray dogs. Staring out my window with disbelief, these individuals looked sad, malnourished, and exhausted from life. My heart sank watching people like you and I sleeping side-by-side, lined up for multiple blocks – half naked – on a dirty sidewalk. A picture of piled bodies of Jews from Nazi concentration camps passed my mind at that very moment.
These individuals could have been someone’s brother or sister, mother or father – stranded – treated as second class citizens and pushed away by society to fend for themselves. The poverty rate here in India is astonishing, but I guess this is what’s to be expected from a developing country. My taxi driver reassured me that all of the homeless get feed really well from the temples near by. He explained that many of these individuals were drug addicts that once had a decent life, but addiction got them a first class ticket into poverty. Their drug of choice is what’s known as “Smack.” The slang word Smack is a brown sugar, which is an adulterated form of heroin that many choose to smoke along with marijuana. Being that Smack is a cheaper form of heroin, kids young as five years of age born into this lifestyle may choose to use this drug on a daily basis.
Arriving at my Hotel at four in the morning, I feel sleep deprived and exhausted from my 20 plus hour plane ride. This Delhi heat is not helping either. At this point I can’t fathom how those homeless individuals sleep out in the streets with this burning humidity. The humidity here makes you feel like you’re in a never escaping sauna. I forgot to mention that as I stepped out of the Indri Gandhi Airport, as the doors slid open, I was overcome with a blast of an interesting odor. That odor could only be described as a mixture of armpit and pollution (At that point I smiled to myself and knew I was in India).
My hotel room was beautiful. A bright light blue room that included both Western and Indian culture deigns. AC was included so I was very happy about that. The very next day I noticed that bright colors were a must for most Indians. The hotels and houses near by were all colored in these bright orange and blue colors. I wonder if the colors mean something, I’ll be sure to ask someone about them later. I just had my very first meal in India. I ordered what’s called a “Paratha” and I was in love. It was a whole-wheat dough pan fried on a tava and stuffed with smashed potatoes. I was told to spread some butter over the flat bread and dip some chili sauce to get the real Indian taste. My god, the butter along with the flat wheat bread and potatoes tasted amazing. As cliché as it sounds, I guess it sort of just “melted in my mouth.”
Something to note about is the Indian toilet. Now I understand that this may not be the best transitional paragraph, especially after I just explained about my heavenly experience with the Paratha, but I think this is something that needs to be noted for future travelers to India. The Indian toilet is not your average toilet. No, it’s far from that. I’m not really sure what you would call it, but I would describe it as a “Squat Toilet.” Many would think that when you’re performing your deed in the toilet you would like to relax and have a calm atmosphere, but no the squat toilet makes you sweat and burns your calves as you go about your deed. The squat toilet really gives your legs a good workout. In a sense, I guess it’s a good thing because you’re getting two things done at once. No more leg day for me at the gym! =)