NEW DELHI: MY FIRST LOCAL INDIAN CULTURE EXPERIENCE!
About to arrive in India and on a prior arrival, I remembered people telling me how much they loved or hated it! At this point, I didn’t know that an adventure of pure culture was about to start…
Is that the real smell of India?
I had just put on the seat belt before arrival; the moment we got closer to the landing strip, a dusty strong smell hit my nose right on the plane – I guess there’s a big pollution problem in India. It smelled horrible for a short time before I got used to it.
Arriving in India without a plan ? Connect with people.
It was already around 9:00 pm by the time I picked up my luggage. I just wanted to go outside to look for some options to get to the city center to find a place to sleep. As usual, I had no idea where I was going, but that’s what I like the most about getting lost. You never know where you’ll end up. I saw this girl at the taxi counter asking for the fare, and so I went over to offer to share the ride.
One company asked for 1,200Rs (ca. 18 USD), but then I asked at a different place, which offered a rate three times cheaper for 400Rs (ca. 6 USD). When you arrive in India, it is important to know that they use a pre-paid taxi service at the airport, and so the different companies offer different rates. We got a ticket and headed to the taxi stand. First, they put us in this one taxi and then into another one. The American girl told me that she was my girlfriend because, otherwise, Indians are very pushy.
Where to stay in Delhi? Arakashan Road
The good thing about being with her was that she knew where we were going – lucky me. We finally left to hit the road; however, the moment when I arrived, I thought to myself, how many times will I use the words, “that’s crazy !” Ha ha. It was also good that I met her because she had rupees to pay for the taxi and the dinner we had late that night. It was midnight and I still hadn’t found a place to stay yet. On our journey from the airport to a location with a lot of hotels near the city center (Arakashan Road), she pretended that we be a couple because Indians love blond women with blue eyes.
On the journey, she offered to share the hotel room, haha, but she also said “as friends”, so I should keep my fingers away – that’s pretty funny, right? Girls and their prejudices about men!
We had some street food, and after walking around for a while looking for a place, I found Hotel Guruvas, where I bargained down the price from 1,200Rs to 900Rs (ca. 14 USD). The people on the street were pushy, which is standard, but I wasn’t in the mood at the time – pretty annoying. The next day, I moved to another place called Zostel, which was cheaper and probably a better spot to meet other backpackers. It’s also the first hostel chain in India with five locations.
How to get a sim card in India?
It wasn’t really easy to get a SIM card at one of the Airtel shops near the metro station. On the journey there I was shocked how crazy the traffic was in New Delhi and how many people were walking on the street – so crowded, people everywhere. Trust me, you cannot imagine it. Well, India has a population of 1,27 billion people, that’s insane right? When I got to the phone shop, they had no electricity and I had to walk to another place to get a copy of my passport and the visa first. A photograph was needed to finish the application process. Registration takes up to 24 hours. Big mission getting a sim card but accomplished – check.
Experience Delhi on a local string / New Delhi 2-day Itinerary
As my friend Akhi (who I met two weeks before in Nepal) recommended to me, when in Delhi you have to go to Chadney Chowk, Parathe Wali Gali, a very cool area well known for their Parantha (stuffed bread for 50Rs. each, delicious). I got there on the metro; and when heading there, the streets were packed with cars – all kinds of transportation – therefore not much space to walk.
Then, I headed to the Red Fort, a world heritage site, where I was surprised to see a separate line for tourists. In general, when walking around, I realized that the locals were staring at me, which was a little bit creepy but I guess I’m very exotic to them, haha, so I didn’t think it was anything bad. At the Red Fort, I met a young Indian guy called Satender because I had asked a random person to take a picture of me before entering.
We decided to walk around together and had a pretty good conversation. The Red Fort wasn’t so exciting for me because there was nothing to see in particular apart from a cute little squirrel that wasn’t even shy. It probably wasn’t the best time to go because they were doing construction everywhere. In the end, I didn’t think it was worth going there. (250Rs (4 USD) and 10Rs (0,15 USD) for locals).
Namaste! Can we take a picture together, please?
In front of the Red Fort, I was asked for the first time in India to take a photo with someone – pretty funny.
Stopping at McDonald’s where two young guys randomly asked me: “Why do I waste my money on traveling, especially to India, if I don’t have a job?” I thought that was quite funny and shows how behind India is with regards to travel, but also it’s the financial aspect you have to take into consideration that makes it very difficult for Indians to grasp.
We then headed to the Qutab Minar together, a nice place to visit (the price for tourists 250Rs and 10Rs for locals.), especially during the sunset hours. This was another place where I got asked several times to take photos with some locals, and they were queuing up – lol, I guess this is something I’ve got to get used to, and it made me happy because I got in touch with the locals.
LOCAL INDIAN CULTURE EXPERIENCE
Transportation to get around in New Delhi
Autorickshaw or Metro. To head back to the hostel, we got a metro card for me, which was pretty decent because you have to pay 250Rs (4 USD) for the card, but you can use the balance. The little downside is that you have to pay 20Rs (0,30 USD) for the return fee. Before taking the Autorikshaw, I would always ask the locals how much it should cost to get to a place, otherwise, they rip you off.
The next day I met my Indian friend and we went to visit Lodi Garden, a nice quiet park for relaxing, reading, sports and couples.
Also perfect for watching the sunset!
LOCAL INDIAN CULTURE EXPERIENCE
We saw people taking photos of their wedding and then I played football with some locals–so much fun. We used the autorikshaw to go to another place. The driver was nice because he charged us less and, instead, took us to a place where you can go shopping. He then receives a commission. Before we headed to get some food, we had to wait until the finished smoking his joint – haha.
We headed to a place called Dilli Haat to have dinner, where we had to pay an entrance fee. My friend ordered my food as usual so I would taste something new all the time. This time he ordered “alo potato”, which is an oven potato. When he told me about it, it was so funny with his Indian accent when he told me alo potato – I couldn’t stop making fun of him in a sarcastic way all evening, haha. He got the joke.
Gym membership at Gold’s Gym in New Delhi
Around 8:00 pm we went our separate ways because I had to go to Gold’s Gym to ask for a membership. It was far away and I had to walk until I finally found it. A guy there told me about a deal, but I didn’t want to sign a 12-month contract. All I needed was a month’s contract to use Gold’s Gym in different locations within India. The guy who worked there couldn’t offer me anything like that but later came with his boss to my hostel and sold me a month-long passport for cash.
This shows how corrupt India is – money talks.
The same night, I spontaneously decided to hitchhike to Agra the next day, so I went across the road of my hostel to get some cardboard and wrote my signs to hitchhike. I was excited about going without any plan or expectations – I guess I needed another adventure.
I TRAVEL FOREVER’s VIEW & RECOMMENDATION
The first few crazy days in India came with a lot of cultural changes that I had to deal with over the next few weeks; I was excited about it. See my “24 must-knows” before visiting India. It should be of help.
Next challenge: Hitchhiking in India.
#TW # LOCAL INDIAN CULTURE EXPERIENCE