It’s been almost 10 years since I was here last. And we both have changed.
As I got out of the plane, I braced myself for that all familiar smell of paan and urine, one of the first things that hits you in India. But there was none! If the signs didn’t say ‘Welcome to Delhi’ one would think they were at the Singapore or Sydney airport. Such is the transformation of the Delhi International Airport. It didn’t end there. From the customs procedure to baggage collection to meeting my pre-paid taxi service was a smooth 45-minute hassle-free transition. Impressive!
The next thing I was extremely impressed by was the Delhi Metro. I remember on previous family holidays being stuck in traffic for hours just to get from one side of Delhi to another. Its fast, reliable and really well connected. The first carriage on all trains is for women only which I think is a brilliant idea and no, that did not offend my feminist sensibilities at all. Of course, women can travel in other carriages as well which I found doing myself most of the time but there are occasions I have specifically got on the women’s carriage.
What else has changed in Delhi? Women are wearing skinny jeans and men are wearing shorts! Almost every one has one of those Samsung tablet like phones (I still don’t) and people have finally learnt to stand in lines and wait for their turns!
Overall I found Delhi has gone a bit subtle. Music in shops is played at a more reasonable volume, street sellers hassle you less and things seem a bit more…organized. Perhaps it’s me. Maybe I have gotten better at mingling with the crowds. In the past, people would pick me up as a tourist straight away. Now they just think I am from the South. And I am actually quite impressed at how well I have handled India so far. From hailing rickshaws, to dodging paan spitters to generally dealing with the hygiene in the streets. The thing with India is, you just have to accept it the way it is. You can spend all your time moaning and criticizing what and what not should change. However this is a country that will change when it is darn well ready to and the only way to truly experience its incredibleness is to just go with the flow.
I would also like to retract something I had written earlier about people going to McDonalds’ and Starbucks when overseas. Since I have arrived in Delhi, for the past couple of days, all I have done is sit for hours drinking coffee at the Starbucks in Connaught Place and eating Mcdonald’s. I have a whole list of things to eat before I got here so why instead of getting straight into them, am I eating McDonalds’? Because sometimes all you want to eat is a McChicken burger! Travelling and experiencing all kinds of food is a wonderful thing and a blessing but sometimes we need a bit of familiarity. To ground ourselves, to remind ourselves of us. Traveling opens new aspects of yourself to you in different paces; at times delivered in sharp painful bursts and others in a slow, steady speed and there is nothing more gratifying than sitting down with a familiar cup of coffee and catching up with yourself.