Arrived in New Delhi without confirmed hostel (just a name of one) = bad thinking!
Ho well…Delhi is the shock, the agitation and everything you see in India gathered in a city with 4 million people more than Portugal.
Because of this agitation I didn’t see much, didn’t felt like home at all, and without Wi-Fi couldn’t plan much. As I laid in a thin mattress fighting what appeared to be my first jet lag I decided to ignore my initial plans of 4 nights in New Delhi.
Varanasi with a upcoming festival would be the next destination. In paper it sounded calmer with its holy river and temples. (Nope!)
But first the amazing adventure of buying a train ticket in India!
Gave up the first afternoon and decided to try the next morning very early. Already a line of 50 people in front of me, great! After filling a form (India loves its forms and bureaucracy) I managed to get a same day ticket to Varanasi (miracle!). With only a hostel name (AGAIN!) and a magazine cut from the airplane explaining the festival I went.
Not at all the things we normally see on television. Even dough I went in 3rd class (3AC), I’ve already rode on the second sitting class (lowest) and nothing compares to what I expected and what media shows us.
Of course, tracks with poop, hundreds sleeping on the stations, peanut shells covering the train floor, and an annoying kid/man screaming “CHAI CHAI” (Indian tee) every 30 minutes (no kid, no wants chai at freaking 4am) but after the third train you can overlook all that. One protest or the other and trains fill till people (without a ticket) enjoy the view from the outside of the train because there is no more space, it is a holy day and all trains are booked or you’re just in second sitting. Sadly didn’t managed to see people on top of the trains.
Trains are actually nice. You have your own bed and space. There is always a guaranteed 2/3 hours delay and they don’t announce the stations. One more reason to talk to locals. A nice Buddhist student made me company on this first trip.
Varanasi was the city of refuge of all the Delhi confusion. Not quite the best choice. But made me realize one thing. Everything from now on is going to be like this, and what is like this you ask?
Let me put it in a perspective of senses, since it is so overwhelming to every of them.
Hearing: Constant loud horns with a maximum of 2 seconds between them. A frequent “Hello friend..” followed by whatever they are selling “…you like tuk-tuk?”, “…cheap price.” or the intrusive “…what are you looking for?”.
Taste: The onion or spice in the last thing you’ve ate (not bad if it wasn’t mixed with the dirt in the air)
Smell: The dust covers not only taste but every smell, but still a variety of gasoline, poop (not only cows) and decomposing trash are dominant.
Vision: A swarm like crowd around you. Making a strange eye contact (added the fact that you are a foreigner). Piles of trash decorates the sides of the roads. Cows share the road with trucks, cars, motos and people (btw, this is the order of priority). Eyes take time to adapt to the fast pace of the images it faces.
Touch: Seriously? You really want to touch anything rather than the strictly necessary here?