Posted by: passedportsnyc | December 21, 2009

Out of Delhi, Out of Dodge

After only 2 full days in Delhi we decided to get out of dodge. Though Delhi has some nice sites (the Jama Masjid mosque – India’s largest – was especially impressive), they were not enough to make up for the constant noise, honking and filth that dominate the city.

I’ve been in plenty of loud, dirty, crowded cities before, but few that I dislike as much as Delhi (Dar es Salaam being a notable exception).  The thing is, I hate cities where it is difficult to be a pedestrian. And in Delhi it is impossible.  To walk even a few meters down the street to buy some water or to pop in to an Internet cafe is a harrowing ordeal. Your progress will be impeded by autorickshaws, SUVs, cows, samosa vendors, cow dung, touts, donkey carts, downed power lines, bicycle rickshaws, open sewers, cars and motorbikes being driven by certified maniacs, maimed beggars and hordes of ogling men vying for your attention,  people defecating in the open sewers next to the samosa vendors (really makes you want to eat a samosa, right?), massive piles of trash and rubble, and pretty much any other obstacle you can dream up. Some might romanticize all this as an exercise in local culture;  I’ve experienced plenty of local culture – it does not need to be that miserable to be authentic.

So we hopped a train to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. And suddenly everything was better.

At the risk of sounding utterly cliché and repeating what thousands of other have said before me, the Taj is positively ethereal. It is astounding to consider how an enormous mass of marble can be made to appear so weightless; it actually appears to float on the horizon.

We had heard Agra was a dump so we arrived at night, saw the Taj in the morning, and already had onward transport booked for the afternoon. As it turned out, I actually kind of liked Agra and wouldn’t have minded staying another night – but perhaps I would have felt that way about anywhere, coming from Delhi.

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Responses

  1. Hey Sarah,
    My collegue from Inda had some thoughts, she said that Jaipur and Rajasthan are known for their beautiful hand crafted work. Kalkata has amazing temples. Not sure if you are hitting any of these spots, but enjoy!

  2. Hey Sarah,

    What other cities did you see? You should also check out southern India. You will notice that India is full of diversity whether in people, weather or in food.

    Soo

    http://sootelang.wordpress.com/

  3. I’ll be there on Tuesday and I’m not a crowd person so should be interesting.

    I am going to Agra also and can’t wait to see the Taj. I would love to go for an elephant ride around the fort at Jaipur, just not sure the best way to get there since the train option from Agra to Jaipur doesn’t seem easy last I looked.

    My friend I am travelling with has been to these places but never to rishikesh (sp?) which is of course some distance north of Delhi. I’m hoping there is a night train to avoid a days worth of travel wasted getting there on a very rushed Indian holiday.

    A weather site said there is 7 hours of daylight in Jan? surely more?

    • daylight about 7am to 6:30 pm.

      we took overnight train from agra to udaipur, which wasn’t nearly as much trouble as i thought it would be. makemytrip dot com is excellent for booking train/plane tickets in india.

  4. Sarah,

    Thought you’d find this amusing. I was actually in the middle of writing my own India recap when I decided to end the Delhi section (as I was heading to Agra) with “get me the f*** out of Dodge.” I paused for a second to wonder where the phrase first derived so I popped it into google (f*** out of dodge). I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised in the least when the fifth result was your post, about Delhi in particular.

    If you have a free second, I’d love to see some pictures of Dar es Salaam, if only in an academic capacity as I simply can’t imagine a place any filthier than Delhi.

    Jim

    • Jim, thanks for sharing, that gave me a good laugh! Dar wasn’t dirtier than Delhi – some parts were equally dirty, loud, crowded, other parts were a tad cleaner – but the people were far more pushy and difficult to interact with, and my personal safety felt extremely at risk. Additionally, everything was closed, including restaurant, and the streets cleared out by 6pm – the moment it got dark, presumably for safety reasons. Unless you wanted to stay in the fancy, expensive, Western-style hotel restaurant bubble, it was difficult even to eat dinner at night. Hope you enjoy the rest of India!


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