I arrived back in Delhi after the conference, I have had to adjust
to living in a huge city by myself, where to the majority of people,
I am seen as different. This some, this means different in terms
of wealth, in which case I am victim to hoards of scams and rip-offs
everyday. But to many others, I'm different in terms of culture,
in which case people are interested in talking to me and finding
out where I am from and why I am in India.
my feet up
trouble has come in gauging peoples intentions. In quick judgments,
I've been rude to genuinely friendly and interested people and trusted
people who have then tried to fleece me for all they can.
had a lot of time to adjust and I've been able to do some travelling,
spend time with the AIESEC members and meet more of the international
like we had entered a war zone when we arrived at New Delhi train
station. It was 6am so we expected Delhi to be sleeping. Lesson
one: Delhi never sleeps.
studying the guidebook, we were well aware of the type of scams
operating here, so ignored everyone who approached us on our way
to the 'Enquiry' desk. Here we were told that the train to Jaipur
was not running that day, but not knowing who to trust we made our
way over the masses of sleeping bodies and through the crowds of
people to the tourist bureau.
man in the uniform at the top of the stairs in front of the bureau
said it was 'closed' and took us to the 'Emergency Ticket Office'
also known as a travel agent. As we sat in front of the desk being
told all trains to Agra and Jaipur were fully booked it became apparent
that we were fresh victims of a Delhi tourist trap.
on the street everything seemed a little clearer, the road was crowded
with people offering us private cars, hotels to stay in and cheap
rides to emporiums. Feeling somewhat overwhelmed we took the first
rickshaw to a more somber area of Delhi - home.
amount of reading could of prepared me for that. It was such an
intense environment, crowds of people everywhere, immense noise
and pollution all around and what seemed like everyone trying to
offer you something or other. You can't think or communicate and
in trusting that one person, we were conned.
it had been a frustrating experience I was confident that I would
be better prepared next time and less likely to fall.
eventually got to Jaipur, except it was on a bus and not a train.
I was traveling with Aga, a new Polish trainee who lives in the
same flat with me along with Philippe from Switzerland.
is a beautiful city, not as big as Delhi, so not quite as crowded
and polluted. The main attraction is the 'Old City' also known as
the 'Pink City'. It is a walled city filled with majestic pink palaces
and architecture dating back to the 14th and 15th century. Within
these old pink walls there is also plenty of modern day charisma
with lively markets, a diverse range of animals on the streets -
monkeys, elephants and camels - and the ever-present mass of auto-rickshaws
dominating the roads.
the evening, we made maximum use of the AIESEC network. I contacted
some members living in Jaipur and we met with them and a new trainee
from Bulgaria to have some dinner and share our stories of India.
was a great night and a prime example of why being in a global organization
like AIESEC is so amazing. I am confident that I could of organized
the same sort of evening in most major cities in which AIESEC is
present throughout the world.
of the world
the Taj Mahal
went on to visit Agra and the Taj Mahal before going back to Delhi.
It is - as everyone says - 'a wonder of the world' and has such
an aura about it, especially from a distance. India too obviously
realizes what a treasure they have and now charge tourists 750 rupees
to enter - the equivalent to traveling 221km on a rickshaw!
like at New Delhi train station, everywhere we went we were approached
by people trying to make money out of us. When we arrived in both
Agra and Jaipur, the door of the bus was surrounded by vulture-like
drivers and with us being the only western-looking faces on board,
we were the prime catch.
two separate occasions, rickshaw drivers resorted to pushing each
other in order to ask for our custom. Even at monuments, people
aged 10 to 100 followed us up the street for as long as 10 minutes
trying to sell everything you could imagine. "Postcards, LOOK
SIR! POSTCARDS! 100 rupees, take them! take them! Take them!"
experience gives you a whole range of feeling, from it being intimidating,
sometimes funny and even irritating. However I am left with an overall
feeling of pity, as it gives the impression of people being so desperate
I previously said, I now live with two trainees in Delhi, Aga from
Poland and Philippe from Switzerland. It gives you so much extra
support to spend your time with people facing the same challenges
have been able to laugh at the less enjoyable experiences, such
as being locked out and having to sleep on the porch, and we enjoy
and share the good experiences, such as meeting people and travelling
(and getting a new fridge - see photo!). It is said that people
pull together in adverse circumstances and that is certainly true
in my experience of the trainee community in India.
fearful of giving India negative connotations in talking about all
my experiences, when in actual fact I wouldn't describe any of my
experiences as negative.
come to accept that it is all part of living in India and it's what
makes India such a unique country. It's like a world within itself.
If there's one thing worth mentioning, it is that I never feel in
danger. Although people approach you, it is mostly friendly regardless
of your reaction to it, it's even hard not to smile back when your
getting ripped off. (The cheeky local boy leapt into shot for the
photo above and then demanded money!)
me so far, India is an immense and beautiful country with people
as welcoming as anywhere else in the world, and being here is giving
me an amazing experience, which will stay with me forever.
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by Andrew Webster