First day in Delhi


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February 12th 2018
Published: February 13th 2018
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Welcome to Delhi
My flights from Minneapolis to Amsterdamn and from there to Delhi were as textbook as you could assume. I met some fellow Minnesotans in line getting on the Delhi flight, and it turns out that the couple I sat next to on that same flight (by chance after switching with someone so a family could stay together) lives less than 10 blocks from me - small world. I slept for about 2 hours on each flight, but when I landed at 1am Monday morning I was surprisingly not very tired. In the customs line, I learned that a passport has two numbers on it, and one of those numbers has an extra digit. Naturally, I had entered the wrong number with the extra digit on my visa (and how it still got approved ahead of time is beyond me) and the immigration officer gave me a hard time. I was getting very nervous as he was discussing my situation with his colleague in Hindi, and I'm pretty sure they could have said no to me and I would have been screwed. Luckily, the colleague was having a terrible IDGAF day (I could tell by the look on his face as he
LunchLunchLunch

Sambhar dosa
helped his own customers) and basically waived at my officer and the gist of what was said appeared to me to be something like "who cares just let her in." I was fingerprinted and barely spoken to, but was shooed away with sweaty palms and huge relief.

As chance may have it, my friend Shashank had landed just 2 hours ahead of me (talk about cutting it close to his wedding next week!) and waited for me to ensure I found my taxi, even though I was quite late after having to stand in a huge line for eVisa. When I asked my driver if I should sit in front or back and he said front, I selected the obvious (to me) front right door which is passenger side back home, and he almost freaked out that I was reaching for the driver's side. I was slightly embarrassed, but chalked it up to sleep deprivation and being a foreigner and we both laughed it off. I arrived at my hotel around 3am and after a friendly check-in (with a Warm Cookie Welcome) I settled in and forced myself to bed around 4:30.

After waking up and coordinating with
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Jilebi
Shashank, I prepared for the day, then took an Uber to meet him so we could do some shopping. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as I headed into Delhi during the daylight, and was SO excited when I saw my first cow, I made a point to message both grooms (the two guys I'm friends with from work who graciously invited me to their weddings) to let them know how excited I was about it. It's not every day you see a cow on the side of the road. Or one in the road. Or 10 of them. With calves. Squeeeee! It just doesn't happen where I'm from, and being a tenured vegetarian, I have a powerful love for animals.

Remember how I mentioned Shashank is getting married next week? He was tasked with not only finding and purchasing his own clothes for the engagement and reception events, which are separate functions from the wedding and take place on different days requiring separate outfits, but was also in charge of picking out his bride's dresses for the engagement and reception (luckily she already had her wedding dress), PLUS he assisted with getting my traditional wear altered and we somehow fit lunch in there too. I was overwhelmed with all the options he had to go through, and could not imagine the decision making process. Technology is amazing and allowed bride and groom to video chat so she was in on the selections since she wasn't able to be here herself, as she lives up north in Jammu where the wedding will be. At one point they had sortof settled on one very beautiful lehenga, but then he told her "No, I'm getting this other one for you instead." Probably because it was cheaper, and she just kindly agreed to his decision. But, he actually purchased more expensive one they both liked more, and he was just trying to surprise her. Sneaky guy! He couldn't keep that secret long though, and told her before the day was over. This was all accomplished in half a day. That's got to be some kind of a record!

I didn't get many pictures today, since much of it was spent in an uber or riding in Shashank's uncle's car (he's stayed with him and his wife and we all got to spend the day together), and the rest of the time was in shops where photography wasn't allowed. Some highlights of the day aside from the cows and the fancy shopping were the crazy driving, including a minor accident, and lunch! I took an hour uber ride each way and it was only $9-10. That is obscenely cheap. A ride like that back home would have cost well over a hundred I'm sure (I've never been crazy enough to bother trying). The lines to keep drivers in their lanes are completely useless; nobody follows them, they just sort of zip in and out and around each other honking incessantly. My dad was right though, nobody gets mad. Not sure how that works, but they're all just super calm and honking away and there's no "road rage" like we have back home and which I'm also guilty of. Driving between shops with the group, we were completely stopped at a light (it does seem that the traffic lights are followed to a basic extent) when all of a sudden a huge smash sounded and I felt my corner of the car jolt a little bit. I whipped my head around to see a person smashed onto the car. And by smashed I do not mean dead, or even really hurt at all. He was riding a bike pulling a huge cart of cauliflower and had also apparently been eating a snack and talking on his cell phone when he collided with us. Everyone in the car sort of froze for a few seconds and I could see the priceless look of irritation on Shashank's face - like Oh Man What Is This Guy Doing - We Don't Have Time For This Today! There are heads of cauliflower littered throughout the street, and both Shashank and his uncle got out to see if everything was OK, which it was of course, I mean, how fast can you really go on a bike carrying a load of produce in traffic like this? Then as the light turned green and everyone returned to honking to get around the debacle that was created, they jumped back in the car and off we went!

For lunch, we had sambhar dosa, which was good, and jilebis, which were amazing. Ever since I saw the movie Lion I've wanted to try jilebi, and picked some up ready-made at my local Indian grocer. I shared them with some Indian friends who said they were good, but I can now vouch that they were nothing compared to what I had yesterday. Hot, gooey, sugary, crunchy, syrupy goodness. I said the trip was complete at that moment. 😊

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13th February 2018

Jilebis
Dont forget mine please

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