Delhi

When I first arrived in India, I landed in Delhi. The immigration officer asked me where I was going, so I told him I was going to Meerut, a city 60 km away from Delhi. The guard asked, “you are going to Meerut?” in a tone that showed he was puzzled why a foreigner like me would ever go to such a place. Upon hearing that I was there to visit a friend, he understood.

The image above is the Lotus Temple – the Bahá’í House of Worship. Within the lotus flower, structure has almost no rooms – it’s mainly a giant atrium filled with pews. It’s unique construction has won it many architectural awards and is one of the most visited buildings in the world.

The India Gate is like the Indian version of the Arc de Triomphe. It’s a memorial to the 70000 soldiers of the british Indian Army who died various wars (The Great War among them). Like the Arc de Triomphe, an eternal flame for the Unknown Soldier burns.

As someone who really enjoys eating meat, this place is like heaven. Imagine eating barbecued skewers seasoned with Indian spices. It works like a buffet, but with two parts, the “appetizer” which is the skewers, and the “main course”, which is the standard Indian food, i.e. curries, naan bread, etc. But the appetizer is so good that I would just only eat that. But of course while in India, one must try everything!

The food in India is so different from what I normally eat, it’s pretty much impossible for me to tell what anything is. At best, I can tell what’s chicken, lamb, chickpeas, paneer, etc., but I have no idea what spices are in what dish. But it doesn’t matter, because everything tastes good. Despite what a lot of people think, not all Indians eat with their hands.

People don’t really follow driving rules here. This is us driving in the oncoming lane. Everybody honks, nobody follows lane lines, and when there’s heavy traffic everybody bunches up bumper to bumper with only a few inches between each car. Cars peek left and right to find space to try to get ahead, but the problem is when everybody does it, it slows everyone down. Big trucks have signs saying “horn please” to encourage people to honk as they pass because of their blind spots.

Occasionally, traffic can slow to a halt just because of some cows blocking the street. Or traffic can be slow because some local townspeople decided to pour their own concrete on the road to build a speed bump – because the city didn’t do it. Roads are bumpy pretty much everywhere. Freeways are slowly being built, but a lot of driving is still done on these patchy roads. Oh, and people pee on the side of the road on a regular basis.

Buildings on the other hand range from giant mansions to literally five sheets of metal stacked together to form walls. The wealth gap is huge. Poorer neighbourhoods have ditches full of trash, while richer neighbourhoods have guards standing watch in the night. But despite having a big house, the power company is notoriously unreliable. Intermittent power outages happen on an almost daily basis, so those who can afford it have backup power in their homes. Some homes also have a water pump as a water supply for their home. It’s such a reversal from what people in the western hemisphere are used to.

Check out my pictures of Delhi and Meerut!

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