I should have mentioned this in my last post but I'm lazy, so I didn't. My wonderful companions were Jordan and Tina. All three of us went to Franciscan University together and coincidentally all studied the same major. (Mental Health and Human Services for those of you who need to be in the know). So, with it being a relatively small school and studying a not-that-popular--more-of-a-made-up-type-of-degree you would think we would have been the best of friends at school. Turns out, I had never even heard of Jordan before we started planning our trip and my friendship with Tina didn't truly start blossoming until we had both graduated and were living in Colorado. But as you know traveling is the perfect scenario where you quickly become lifelong friends or instant frienemies.
*Spoiler alert* At the end of the trip it was already decided we would be traveling the world together again very soon. I'll let you use your deductive reasoning skills to figure which path we went down.
**It should also be mentioned that our one week in Delhi was a mere pit stop on Jordan's four and half month long excursion in Asia and Europe. If you want to turn the greenest shade of jealous, jump over to his blog and read about his unbelievable adventures and insights right here.
So back to the timeline. Where was I? Oh yes, just wakening from our 4 hour
|Awkward First Day of India pose. Modeled after the well known First Day of School pose.|
This is where I would say I encountered my first real cultural shock of the trip. I walked downstairs wearing a dress that went down to my ankles (home school flashbacks ensued throughout the entire trip) and a shirt that barely went below my collarbone. Despite my self-assuredness that I was dressed modestly and was "totally going to fit in" I was immediately made aware of just how many eyes were on me.
I didn't even have time to survey my surroundings and decide which of the 7 men in the lobby I should approach for help because they we all quickly by my side; ready and willing to serve. Much like Emirates Airlines, they put American service to shame. Although this felt like a different kind of service. The attention was a strange combination of, "This is a woman. Women are helpless. Therefore, let us help her" and "What the hell is a woman doing down here asking questions about hiring drivers and going out?" and "Damn look at that blonde, white woman. Let's just stare and stare and stare until she has to run away and tell Jordan he will be handling the travel accommodations downstairs from now on" kind of attention.
***Major Tangent*** Ready yourselves accordingly. I want to post about what it felt like to be woman in country that seems to have little to very little respect for women--as well as how different my experience was, in that, for some unknown reason I was born a blonde little white girl and how the yielded more attention than I will ever know what to do with. But that will be for a different post at a different time. I'm just trying to get the point across that no one, not even my roommate Hillary who previously visited India could prepare me for week of stares, gawks and attention I was about to receive. ***end tangent***
So, after finally being able to convince the men at the help desk I wanted to go to this church to pray and they made sure that I wasn't under the impression that it was a "must see" tourism sight, (because in their minds they could not fathom why I wanted to see a Catholic church over the beautiful Hindi temples) I booked a car for the morning and I went back upstairs to tell Tina and Jordan (and double check my bag for even more modest clothes I might have forgotten about).
We ended up going to Sacred Heart Cathedral and for the first time ever in the history of India, traffic wasn't that bad and we were 45 minutes early for mass. We walked around and found a priest who eagerly agreed to hear our confessions. Mass was in English! A luxury I really wasn't expecting. It was also full (another unexpected surprise, but cool nonetheless).
After Tina and I nearly passed out during the mass--since is was now approaching our 15th? hour without sustenance--we quickly decided to go some food. (I know, don't we sound like brilliant and seasoned travelers?) After taking a couple minutes to talk Jordan out of eating street food, our hotel staff recommended a 'safe' place to eat just down the block.
This might have been one of the best happenings of our trip. Immediately upon entering, we were sat at the same table with other travelers. A couple to be exact. Or were they a couple? We never really got a straight answer from them. (One of those mysterious 'this is my friend' but we've been traveling the world together for years, he's from England, I'm from Michigan situations. I'm sure you know the type) They met five years ago during their first year teaching ESL (English as a second language). Each year they accept a teaching job together. Finish out their contract and take any/all money they have saved to travel around for 6-8 weeks. Then, they both head back to their perspective homes, spend a month or so with their families and start all over again.
I'm sure my parents will be over the moon when they read this next sentence. This is my dream life. And I am actually talking to people who are doing it? What the aitch? I had so many questions for them. The biggest one being, "Can I join you? like RIGHT now? " I almost peed my skirt out of excitement (but couldn't pee because I spent 90% of the trip dehydrated out of fear of using those squatting toilets) and started jumping up and down in my seat. Luckily, just at that moment I spotted something that helped me keep my cool. What was this "something" you ask? Oh not much. Just your average restaurant cockroach crawling on the wall next to Jordan.
Yeah, take a second to read that again if you need to. A cockroach. And everybody's just sitting there chilling, like nothing is going on. Maybe they were distracted by the meal-worm looking specimen on our table. I don't know why. Please don't ask me. All I know is that none of us acknowledged their presence until looooong after we had finished the meal. After all, this was the restaurant our hotel recommended to us as "safe." Plus, like I mentioned earlier, far too many hours had already lapsed since our last time of nourishment and all three of us were showing our "hangry" symptoms. (Hangry: hungry + angry. Don't act like you've never suffered from it. Maybe during that piano concert at your church that just. won't. end. or something similar I'm sure.)
Just to confirm, yes. This restaurant really was infested with bugs (probably vermin too, but they kept those in the back out of courtesy). No, this did not stop me, or anyone else from chowing down on the bowl of rice and curried vegetables I had just ordered. In fact, we went back to the same restaurant a couple days later because we were missing some of the comforts of home and wanted "something familiar." It's okay to take a minute or two and judge us. I don't really care. I'm the not the one who has a parasite right now. (Yes, one of us did come back with a little parasite. We've named it Vikram - and you'll get the dirty deets on that later!!)
So finallllllly. After only 11 hours of actually being India we are: semi-rested, showered, fed, holy, and ready to let our inner tourist out to see some sights. We walked back to the hotel to hire a car to take us around Delhi for the rest of the day.
Okay I'm cutting myself off here. I literally cannot type another sentence. I'll loose all my 1.5 readers if I make this any longer.
On the off chance that you made it through this entire post, give yourself a standing ovation. If you're a glutton for crazy, come back again and I'll fill you on the rest of the day next time on True Life: I went to India.