We drive wide-eyed. That’s not excitement. That’s fear. The journey from the airport to the hotel is the free bread at a restaurant. It sets the mood for the rest of the trip. Sourdough with olive oil, you’re in for a treat; roti bread with traffic jam, not so much. Dark highways with the occasional sleeping beggar. Or is that a corpse? Our driver honks his way into the imaginary lane between the second and third, narrowly missing a man in the middle of the road. City lights can be seen over the horizon to the right. We turn left. The streets get darker and darker and then our hotel is in sight. The car pulls up to the entrance. It’s only a ten metre walk to the doorway, but I don’t want to get out. “Ladies first,” says Dishana.
Check out Part 1 of our India Vlog for some awesome shots in Delhi.
“Do not trust anyone,” said our tour guide, our concierge, and the street vendor who charged us double price for water.
“Especially if they tell you to trust them,” said my parents as we said our goodbyes. Not “I love you,” or “I’ll miss you.” Just stern words and a hug that felt like we would never see each other again.
It is a shame that a select few cast a negative light on a predominantly welcoming population. I can’t help but be on guard when the locals approach us. First they ask for a selfie, so I instinctively check that my wallet is still there. Then they ask where we are from—”Australia? But you China?”—and I wait for the sales pitch. But it doesn’t come. They thank us for the photo, and leave. I am ashamed of my preconceived mistrust.
You don’t get a second chance at first impressions: crowds, hours of delay at immigration, unhelpful guards, and a thousand eyes staring , but first impressions are not always right.
We were told we would get sick, and we didn’t. We were told the people were rude, and they weren’t. We were told that it would not be safe. And maybe it isn’t entirely. But we didn’t encounter any trouble while we were there. In hindsight, we were much more worried than we needed to be (see our tips blog so that your trip will be as smooth as ours).
We arrived homesick, scared and regretful, but by the end of the trip, we had left with a sense of awe and respect for a beautiful country with beautiful people, and a beautifully rich history that dates back to the start of human civilisation.