Hustle Bustle of Delhi

Upon waking up in Delhi after our arrival in the early morning hours, Jason and I decided to do exactly what every travel book will tell you to do to adjust your body's clock to a new time zone: take a walk outside. With a ten and a half hour time difference to overcome, we needed the sunshine's guidance.

First, a note to assuage family readers who might have spent some time worrying about our safety, particularly after the 2008 terrorist attacks at Mumbai hotels: All our hotels stopped every vehicle at their perimeter gates for an inspection, every bag went through an x-ray machine, and each time we entered it was through a metal detector.Walking was immediately a challenge, since just two steps outside of the property a rickshaw driver approached, "Hello my friends, where are you going today?" We politely tried to shoo him away, explaining we were just out for a walk. He trailed us for a half block, trying to woo us into his vehicle. "No thank you!" we firmly called out and quickened our steps. On our way to Delhi's central plaza, Connaught Place, we thought we'd lost our tail until the rickshaw sidled up next to us, "Hello, my friends! Where are you going? I can show you!" Same guy. Again we kept moving ahead.

Traffic moved at a busy, chaotic clip; cars, motorcycles and rickshaws. I wondered how we'd ever cross the big street we were nearing. "Oh good," I said to myself spying a crosswalk light, only to notice a moment later all its wires were pulled out in a dysfunctional tangle. We stopped and waited for a crowd of fellow pedestrians to gather so we could jaywalk enveloped in a gaggle of expert natives. As we waited, who pulls up? "Hello, my friends!" This time he pops out of his rickshaw to discuss our plans with us, offering to take us to a craft shop (where we learn he, like other drivers, will get a commission for delivering tourists to their doors.)

Connaught Place was a bit of a wearying challenge our first day in Delhi. It was impossible to stand still without feeling assailed by citizens trying to lure us to one shop or another, or sometimes beggars tugging at our sleeve. Even more attention was demanded as the circle, which features shopping arcades inspired by Bath, England, never really saw the completion of upgrades intended for the Commonwealth Games. There were unexpected holes in the ground creating falling hazards. Sometimes they were covered up with a marble paver, creating a tripping hazard instead. (Reading the next day's paper I learned Connaught Place was listed as one of the 'misses' of the Commonwealth Games.)

We realized later that it might have been our venturing out ahead of most shops and the bazaar being open, making two American tourists the most interesting opportunity at the time. They'd start friendly enough, "Hello! U.S.A?" Or one jolly gentleman who approached to shake Jason's hand, "Sir! Hello! You remember me, from the hotel? I can offer you a ride!" We kept moving and I said to Jason, under my breath, "We don't know that guy. We saw maybe one person at the hotel last night!" "I know," he responded laughing.

We laughed more when our Indian friends, Mumbai natives, and travel companions, Tushar and Dipti, arrived at told us about an old Bollywood film called "The Thug (or trickster) from Delhi" confirming the hustle component of the hustle bustle of Delhi's streets.

We did jump onboard a rickshaw the next morning, and you'll see the accompanying bustle of the streets.



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