Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 13, 2009

In India

Good News, my luggage arrived when I did. 

Going through Indian immigration was easy.

Two wonderful smiling faces,  Manmadha and Raj, with a VSO sign were there to greet me at 1:30am in the morning.

But I was not the first or last to arrive.  We waited for another 5 vols to arrive about an hour later.  Amongst them was Joseph Spence from Lancaster, England, a young lad of 20 who would be my room mate and the closest vol (volunteer) to me in Rajasthan. He’ll be in Jaipur.

We hit it off right from the start, he came in carrying his guitar and noticed my dulcimer on the cart.  We were jamming within a few hours.


We stuffed ourselves into a taxi with all our gear and meandered through corridors of darkness Delhi until we arrived at the India Social Institute.   I’m not quite sure what this place is but we have a small room about 8 feet by 12 feet, with two single beds, two wooden closets and a private WC with a shower (with hot water!).  And yes, the toilet is the chair, not the squat, kind. (pictures to see coming soon)

When we arrived at this rooming house, we were all given a first aid kit, mosquito netting, DEET, a stack of papers and maps to read through and money for the month. (I’m only here for the month after all.)

In the stack of papers was a lot of detailed information about what we will be doing for the next month, such as schedules for language classes,  health and country courses, and a whole lot more.  Plus all logistics that we need to do such as registering with our embassies, and the police and the Foreign Registration Office. And things like opening a bank account, the costs of rickshaws, where to eat, shop, and places to see.

Contact and emergency contact numbers were supplied and who are the people at the India VSO office and how to contact them. 

Actually there was a lot more information in the Volunteer Manual but I wanted to give you a quick briefing of the important stuff.

Joe and I couldn’t sleep so we unpacked and organized our gear and tried to read the materials provided. And we played our instruments softly together too. About 5am we decided we should try to get some rest before breakfast at 7:45am.  We tried but we only sometimes dozed off.

We were the only ones there (from the VSO contingency) for our (supplied) breakfast which consisted boiled eggs, toast, cereal, milk, coffee/tea (with the milk already in it) and bananas. I had to ask for some coffee without milk of course.

Then we decided to walk to a nearby landmark called the India Gate.  The temperatures were already rising and we were sweating before long.  Crossing the streets was insane and possibly suicidal.  But after about an hour we managed to get to the park where the monument was.

Some Indian guys were sitting on the grass in the shade and called us over to talk.  They were just interested in who we were and where we came from and had lots of questions of us.  As we left them two other guys asked us to pose for a photograph for them.  Somehow we had become the tourist attraction.

Then we decided we would stop a rickshaw driver to ask him if he knew where we could find some place to eat and take us there. It wasn’t easy to get one in the heavy traffic and when one finally stopped his English wasn’t that good and he claimed, like all the other rickshaw drivers, that his meter didn’t work and told us it would be 50 rupees to go to Connaught Place.  We started to haggle when another rickshaw cab came along.  The driver in the second cab spoke English well and told us it would cost 40 rupees so we got in with him.  If you’ve ever ridden a go-cart in downtown traffic (anywhere), that’s what it’s like to ride in one of these three wheeled motorised carts.

After being let off a young man came up to us asking if we needed a cab. But he stayed with us anyway and told us where a good restaurant was and where we could get a free map of Delhi from the government tourist office.  He also told me I look like an Indian.  That was the second time I heard that today.  Maybe my Tilley hat, camera and backpack gave me away.

After our first Dosai in Delhi we walked around before we haggled with another driver for a ride back to the residence.

The vol girls from the airport of that morning were just waking up when we got back.  They were going out and Joe and I decided to take a nap.  It lasted only five hours.

Later wee met up with the girls and went out to supper at an …. wait for it … Indian restaurant. I found an internet place on the way back and wrote a few quick “I’m here safe and sound” emails.

Joe and I gave a mini concert (based on the first jam we had in the early morning which turned out to be quite marvellous, Joe writes his own songs and is an accomplished player and singer)

So I’m off to do some more reading. Tomorrow all the vols get together to meet each other and some facilitators and discuss the upcoming events.

What a first full day.  And I know I haven’t told you everything!




1 comment:

  1. I haven't read this yet:

    Take care, Miriam