Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First Impressions of India

I took a break from blogging about the Asia Tea Tour over the holidays.  I have a lot more to say about China (including Tibet), but I'm going to be daring and go out of order.  I want to talk about India!

We flew from Tibet (which I will blog about, Yak butter tea and all) through Kathmandu to Delhi.  The flight itself was spectacular, flying alongside Mt. Everest!  (I've shown this before, but it's worth a second look.)

Mt. Everest
Photo by Dan Robertson, World Tea Tours

The moment I stepped foot in India, my senses were dazed.  We had just come from the high grasslands of Tibet with its wide vistas and fresh, cool air.  Here in Delhi the air was warm, close and smoggy, like breathing porridge.  Contrast that grey canvas with vivid color everywhere...magenta, coral, chartreuse, azure, scarlet, indigo and gold.  The aromas of hot asphalt and car exhaust mixed with the scent of marigold from the lei we received in welcome. 

Typical street scene in Delhi: Mom with tot, riding side-saddle on the back of a scooter.
I loved her colorful clothing.

We headed out for a highlights tour of important governmental buildings in Delhi.  As we zoomed along on the "wrong" side of the road, I was astounded by the traffic.  Lanes didn't seem to matter.  I read a bumper sticker, "Hurry, hurry spoils the curry."  A cacophony of honking cars accompanied our guide as my ears adjusted to his Indian lilt. His melodic English soothed me.

Delhi is a city of cities (New and Old), the second largest city in India (Mumbai is first).  Though the air is thick with smog, the city is trying hard to clean up.  Most taxis and buses use CNG for fuel, compressed natural gas.  The city targets 30% of its land to be preserved as green space.

Then we stopped at an important monument park, and into the throng.  Here, the sense of touch became alive as people brushed against me - hawkers persistently selling wares, others out for an evening.  We met only a few folks in China who either asked for money or tried to sell us things on the street.  Here, though, the selling is hard core. 

Is that really what I'm seeing?  That thought was with me in each direction I turned.

India Gate, national monument and tribute to fallen soldiers

After our sight seeing, we headed to a restaurant.  I found it funny that at 8 pm, we were the first people to arrive.  Others didn't trickle in for dinner until nearly 8:30.  In India, if you're on time, then you must have nothing important to do!

Dinner was pure delight!  The food in China was healthy, tasty and interesting, but Indian food - for me - was supremely indulgent. It is my favorite.  We enjoyed succulent spiced chicken, cheese with roasted tomatoes, fenugreek with peas, and garlic naan.  We drank mango lassi and masala chai.  A welcome feast to this complex country of many colors, textures, spices, challenges and potentials.


Frivolitea said...

WOW! That is a fascinating account of your travels!

Rosemary said...

Oh... looking forward to more travel posts! What an amazing country!

Connie said...

I love seeing India through your eyes Steph...... what an amazing trip!

Marlena said...

I am with you on INdian foods.I just love them. Thank you so much for all the pictures and your travelogue. Here's to curry! Guess I'll go warm some Naan.

Esmerelda said...

I remember the multi families on a motorcycle. Three, four, even 5 people riding at once. All perfectly balanced.

Angela McRae said...

OK, I give ... so what was that on his head? And was he walking that easily with it there?

Steph said...

Angela - I never actually could tell! He was a phantom - there then gone.

Marilyn said...

I do think I would love the colors and food on India. Love hearing your impressions and seeing your photos.