Although there are many more places in northern India I would like to have seen, I am glad I spend my final few days back in Delhi. Tooling around the wide tree-lined avenues, visiting the famous sites, I discovered a much cleaner, more modern city than I had expected. And so it is with a much better sense of how to manage this city that I offer this recap of my November.
Miles traveled: 4050 By Air: 2460
Days in India: 25 Cost per day: $66
(a ridiculous amount but I spent $504 on flights alone)
UNESCO sites visited: 8 Other cool sites: 12
Loose craps created: 0 Loose craps stepped in: 2
In that vein, a further note on health and crime:
I am happy to have enjoyed perfect intestinal health while in India, having adhered to a strict policy of drinking only from sealed bottles and using Grapefruit Seed Extract religiously every morning. I did suffer a very brief head cold upon landing in Delhi, but compared to the deep bronchial coughs I heard emanating from many a traveler, I consider myself very lucky indeed.
I suffered no threat of harm or robbery, nor did I ever feel cheated or swindled, though I did have to gently and firmly stand my ground a few times to enforce an agreed price. I even managed to retrieve a lost item by offering a small bribe, or baksheesh as it is known here. I certainly had no fear of being victim of violence, though I did stand in constant apprehension of having my freedom of travel restricted due to breakdown, labor strikes, or heightened security.
As I leave this place I am deeply confused about the future of India, posed as it is to become a superpower by the year 2025. I cannot help but wonder how a people who I found to be very easily distracted, burdened by a seemingly obsolete religion, and buried in oceans of crap and plastic can move fully into the modern world. On the other hand, the degree to which the streaming throngs of traffic are able to selflessly cooperate suggest a very unified collective mind, and I have never seen more beautiful smiles than those radiating from a family of sisters, dirt smeared and homeless, finding some unfathomable joy on the side of the highway. This is truly a land of contradictions, nothing is probable here, everything is possible.
Thanks to Shirley Vancouver, Cary Sacramento, and Lauren and Micheal London for sharing some time with me, and making otherwise improbable events...possible.