To be honest, I’m not sure where to start. Even though I’ve only been here four days, I’ve experienced so much! I think the best way to share it all with you is by starting at the beginning.
The flight was boring as usual, until we getting ready to land at Delhi Airport. What I’d initially assumed to be normal clouds was actually a mix of fog and pollution that had drawn a curtain over the city, burying everything beneath it. I’ve read that New Delhi has taken over Beijing’s 1st place title in smog; on certain days pollution is twenty times as higher that what is considered to be hazardous – at least at home in Germany. While I was slightly annoyed I couldn’t see the new city out the window, the pilot had a much bigger problem – he couldn’t see to land the plane! After circling the airport a few times, challenging the smog, he gave up, and headed us toward Mumbai (formerly Bombay).
Our detour took us an hour-and-a-half to Mumbai to refuel, then an hour-and-a-half back. Finally, about 7 hours later than I had planned, I arrived in New Delhi, a city so foreign to me! My first impression leaving the calmness of the airport was, to best describe it, intense. From all directions, people were shouting asking if you need a taxi; the whole city is loud and bustling and full of life.
I arranged a cab ride, and took a ride that swung between excitement and seeing death in front of me. The drivers operate without any kind of traffic system! Every space between cars or rickshaws is seen as a challenge to move faster. And all the honking! If I remember one thing about New Delhi when my trip is through, it will be the honking of car horns. You hear then every minute of every day, all night included. After a few days in the city, I developed the theory that the honks are the reason I still haven’t seen any traffic accidents. The three lane streets here have 10 cars across, and no one cares where and when to pass, but no accidents. In Germany, this would end in a major pileup disaster, but I think here, there only driving ‘system’ is just a series of honks. One when you pull on the street, one when you pass, and another if someone’s getting too close. Again, just a theory, but how else could this chaos not lead to any accidents?!
I was exhausted, and fell asleep as soon as I got to the hotel, then up early to explore New Delhi! My colleague from igus India, Nitin, picked me up and took me sightseeing; something I couldn’t be more grateful for. The life on the city’s streets, the intermingling between rich and poor, all living so close, really impacted me. Here, the streets are bustling with life at every corner in a unique and colorful way I’ve never experienced before. The mix of high-tech and old world is amazing; I saw modern things like tech shops and skyscrapers, and things like a man traveling by elephant, all in one space.
Though I’d love to tell you more about my adventures and the sights around New Delhi, it will unfortunately have to wait. You see, I spent the entirety of the next few days in the customs office, in the attempt to free my little car from the Indian bureaucracy. I’ve never spent longer waiting around, and only for a few signatures. It seemed there was some sort of “Happy Customs Day” on Monday, and we couldn’t find anyone working, and then it took about seven hours Tuesday to get the papers and passes to the cargo area.
Next time I’ll tell you more about freeing the iglide car, plus, what it has in common with a flock of sheep! Talk to you soon!