Delhi is absolutely crazy and I LOVE IT!
I went to a temple, was “adopted” and performed an abhisheka to send healing thoughts and good fortune to all the people I love and care about (including but of course not limited to me). I was talked through the whole thing so that I could chant and participate. Then I met the swami of the temple who tied threads around my wrist and gave me a rose and blessings.
I tried to go to the Red Fort but was semi-kidnapped by a bicycle rickshaw driver. He said it would be too crowded, and rode me around the streets of Old Delhi. On Sunday most shops are closed but there are second-hand vendors all over the streets, and it’s extremely crowded.
I had a fantastic time, though just a bit scary. Lots of stares to be sure—I was the only non-local to be seen. And there I am with a red bright red splotch on my pale forehead being wheeled around in among all the cars, motorcycles, and other rickshaws.
At one point, he stopped the rickshaw and insisted on bringing me up a dark staircase in an alley, but only to see some courtyards. We went past India’s largest mosque as well, and ended up in the middle of a Muslim funeral procession in that area. Then he drove me down another side street to go into a shop. I knew the deal, so I bought some overpriced tea just to avoid difficulty and so he’d get his kickback, since I was having such a great time.
When I came out of the shop, he was gone, so a bit of an “oh fuck” moment before the men outside signed to me that he was just eating at a street vendor cart on the corner. He brought me back to my driver, and now I am at the hotel (sad that I have to do work to prepare for meetings tomorrow).
Back to how crazy it is here, just a short list of things I have seen:
- People openly living in the streets, bathing in gutter water, fires going at night, etc.
- Dust and construction everywhere. It’s a total chaotic wreck here, mostly because so much is going on, everything being torn down, cobbled together, or built.
- Local news in English. The big news is the federal budget, and all the news can talk about is how it is going to be spent, which development needs will get priority, and how to keep growth from getting out of control. So refreshing not to hear bitter arguments about how it WON’T be spent and what the government WON’T do. It’s as if there’s actual interest in moving forward here, quite a contrast.
- Donkeys, street dogs, and cows. No monkeys yet though.