Delhi is a very busy, noisy, and incredibly polluted city – the most polluted city in the world. When you fly into it, you can’t even see the airport as you are taxiing down the runway! We only planned to stay a few days – enough time to travel from there to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and still get a quick “taste” of the city. I have to say, though, I loved it for the short time we were there! Yes, my sinuses ended up getting plugged up and I left Delhi with a cold, but this to me felt like the “real” India! Chennai and Kerala were lovely but not nearly as chaotic as I had expected. I can see why so many people in India travel to Kerala for holiday – it is a slower-paced, quiet, agricultural state. On the other hand, we stayed right in the centre of New Delhi and when you stepped out of our hotel, you had to keep your eyes open! Usually they were loading some kind of aluminum product onto carts or donkeys. There were rickshaws flying past, and cars were still trying to navigate their way through the already jam-packed alleyway!
People would spot us from what seemed like miles away and come and try to sell us something or take us somewhere. We weren’t sure if they were being friendly or trying to make a few rupees by offering us their assistance. Surprisingly we didn’t encounter huge numbers of beggars. Yes, there was the little boy, who looked no more than 2, who tugged on Clay’s sweater and wouldn’t let go. There was the mother who kept shoving her baby in our faces and said she needed to feed him – but it wasn’t constant. And they would leave us alone if we consistently said no. I had told the boys to be ready because I had heard stories of people being followed by beggars and they would wait outside stores and restaurants for them, and continue to follow them again. We did not experience that.
What we did see were hard working people: some sewing on the side of the road, others cooking bread and setting up little stands to make a few rupees, and still others hoping for a ride or two on their rickshaw as they pedaled hard, often carrying hundreds of pounds on the backs of their bicycles through the chaotic streets.
And through all of this the boys made no fuss. None. I don’t think anything phases them at this point. They have learned to jump out of the way when walking down the street – especially if there are animals heading their way. They know just the right time to grab our hands, so that they stay close and safe. They have learned that it is OK to nod your head and smile at strangers, as long as they don’t start asking probing questions. I am extremely impressed with how they just go with the flow and they trust us. They trust that we will keep them safe and that this whole experience will work out OK. As long as we don’t keep packing up and moving every couple of days – as long as we give them time to just “be” and to have some down time, they are happy to go along with whatever our travels may bring. I feel very fortunate that we have such easy travelers!