Delhi. One of India’s two mega metropolises. One of India’s iconic cities. India’s capital.
So many things we expected: the sights, sounds and smells.
From elegant ladies tiptoeing gracefully along cobbled streets to barefoot beggar children grasping at hand and trouser leg; from the delicate timber of Indian music lilting through the air to the constant screech of horns; from aromatic curry wafting through narrow alleys to pungent waters gurgling underfoot.
All this, everything in between and so much more did we expect from Delhi. In many ways the same as we expected from India.
In truth it’s what we’ve got. India is a constant dichotomy, a constant game of two halves; and yet, at the same time it is not as chaotic, dirty or frustrating as we had been lead to believe. We’ve travelled in harder places!
And so it was with Delhi. Were we expected bombardment at every second we found bombardment only every other second!
From shopping down dusty avenues, bartering hard for pennies here-and-there…
… To visiting the famous must see sights with locals and tourists alike we explored most of what Delhi had to offer. We even caught a – supposedly 4-star – hollywood flick… And lost 2.5 hours of our lives, which we are never getting back. Never, no matter how hard we try!
We zipped around the city in rickshaws held together by superglue, string and duck tape (and that’s the good ones)…
… And we stepped aside as the old ways past amongst the new.
Did we love Delhi? Did we hate Delhi? No. Yet there was no reason to stay. It is Indian, of that there is no doubt, and yet at the same time I find it hard to say what it is that makes Delhi, Delhi.
When it comes to most Indian cities the heart is easy to find. In a way I feel Delhi is the lost capital. It was the British who moved the capital to Delhi – away from Calcutta – and there is a feeling that something is not quite right about that.
So, as the call goes out from Jama Mashid across this bewildered city; as Muslims make their way to the temple and the crows circle the ornate towers; it is time for us to leave. To say farewell to Delhi, to say farewell to smog and hello to sun, sand and sky.