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"I'll find my way home while exploring the galaxy"

Day One: Sights + Serendipity in Delhi

I was woken up to by honks both mild and aggressive overlapping in the most unpleasant cacophony.  I’ve had my fair share of jetlag in life, and this one seemed unusually potent, even though I spent the majority of the last 24 hours passed out across two flights (New York to Moscow and Moscow to New Delhi). Despite the crazy coming from outside, my circadian rhythms told me it wasn’t quite time to start the day, so we slept a few more comfortable hours.

Around 11am, we finally rolled our hungry bodies out of bed. Upon hearing that breakfast was over, we decided to start the day with some proper Indian lunch and climbed the top floor of Hotel Godwin Deluxe, a luxuriously vibed out but modestly priced hotel recommended to us by a friend. Despite the slight panic of not knowing how our stomachs would handle our first real Indian meal, we were pleasantly surprised. Delicious coffee with one sugar cube was soon followed by Mullgawtany soup (derived from the incredibly delicious Indian lentil, Dal), which culminated in a classic Paneer Tikha Masala with rice and nan. It was the perfect first supper.

It was early afternoon when we finished lunch and finally made our way outside into the world, to find a boy named Amit who we were told to meet via a friend from back home. Stepping onto the streets of Delhi gave me a taste of adrenaline that I never knew I had. The scene and chaotic energy were completely otherworldly and reminded me of a scene in Aladdin.  A thin layer of smoky dust covered just about everything in sight. We barely made it a couple of feet when all of a sudden Wylie was stopped dead in his tracks by a boy holding a photo of us on his phone (the one I had posted on Instagram only a day ago). It was Amit, of all people! And to think that Delhi’s population is 30 million made that moment even more surreal (apparently our friend from home had texted Amit a photo of us just to make finding us easier – gotta love when that happens).

Amit helped us get dollars exchange to rupees, and in no time, we were off on our first adventure across town rickshaw style. Now for those of you who have never experienced a Delhi rickshaw before, brace yourselves because it is NO joke. Imagine every possible sounding honk, smell of motorbike and rickshaw fume with mild wafts of incense, and humidity level all penetrating your senses at once, with absolutely no breaks. New York’s traffic pales in comparison. On top of all that, at every traffic standstill or red light, children who weaved in and around the cars swarmed our rickshaw asking for money, a sad yet very real experience. What we thought would be a breezy 25-minute ride turned into what seemed like a one-hour car chase, and we were beyond happy to be on solid footing again.

Below are photos of what we discovered along the way – no solid plan, just trying to meander as much as possible in a city that we soon learned was not designed for safe pedestrian walking (sidewalks are not really a thing here, and if they are, motorbikes usually get first dibs). The J-walking here is on a different level.

It was a great first day that wore us out to the ground. There are so many questions about this place that still have yet to be answered, and to that I have to remind myself that we're just at day one.

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  Our first daytime view of Delhi was actually seen from our hotel room in the Paharganj neighborhood of the city (Central Delhi).

Our first daytime view of Delhi was actually seen from our hotel room in the Paharganj neighborhood of the city (Central Delhi).

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  Our first rickshaw ride from Central Delhi down to  Quitab Minar , the tallest brick minaret in the world. Entry prices are significantly cheaper for Indians than they are for foreigners (30 rupees to 500 rupees). 

Our first rickshaw ride from Central Delhi down to Quitab Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world. Entry prices are significantly cheaper for Indians than they are for foreigners (30 rupees to 500 rupees). 

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    We didn’t actually go up as we were more interested in taking a walk and seeing the city on foot. Came to find out that the map we were given was drawn in a scale very different than we were used to, so walking from one site to another was a bit pointless. We did however take in the sidewalk scenes, which you can see below.

We didn’t actually go up as we were more interested in taking a walk and seeing the city on foot. Came to find out that the map we were given was drawn in a scale very different than we were used to, so walking from one site to another was a bit pointless. We did however take in the sidewalk scenes, which you can see below.

We stopped in a park near the golf course to take a break from all the crazy honking on the streets. Elderly Indian men dressed in white played cards while younger Indian boys played a game of cricket. Finding peace and quiet in a park seems like such a necessity in this city.

We stopped in a park near the golf course to take a break from all the crazy honking on the streets. Elderly Indian men dressed in white played cards while younger Indian boys played a game of cricket. Finding peace and quiet in a park seems like such a necessity in this city.

We took a rickshaw to the Lotus Temple, only to find out that the last visit ends at 5p. We did however see the sun shine through a clearing of leaves, radiating this glowing hot orange as it set for the day.

We took a rickshaw to the Lotus Temple, only to find out that the last visit ends at 5p. We did however see the sun shine through a clearing of leaves, radiating this glowing hot orange as it set for the day.

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  The Lotus Temple was sadly closed by the time we arrived. If we do make our way back to Delhi, I’d like to come back. Completed by 1986, this temple has won numerous awards for its architectural genius. As the name suggests, the lotus shaped temple houses people of all religions and bans the reading or chanting of any particular religion. Also known as the Baha’I House of Worship, the Lotus Temple sounds like the perfect place to tap into spirituality more than anything else. 

The Lotus Temple was sadly closed by the time we arrived. If we do make our way back to Delhi, I’d like to come back. Completed by 1986, this temple has won numerous awards for its architectural genius. As the name suggests, the lotus shaped temple houses people of all religions and bans the reading or chanting of any particular religion. Also known as the Baha’I House of Worship, the Lotus Temple sounds like the perfect place to tap into spirituality more than anything else. 

Tiffany Wen