|It begins. Wonderful
a flight. From Seattle
to Chicago towering cloud formations. With
binoculars: farms, homes, towns, mountains - detail, better than Google
Earth. Chicago to New Delhi is 15 hours. Full plane. Very
tight. Mostly hours of meditation, though was able to
see the Aral Sea and
Samarkesh. I was surprised that no one else looked out the
windows. I given puzzled looks for doing so. No accounting for
Then, landing in Delhi at 10 pm was a great adventure of running the gauntlet of cab drivers bent on taking me to the hotel of their choice rather than mine. I lost. I was sure we had a solid agreement where to go. The guide book warns that the taxi drivers get commissions from the hotels and the “travel agencies” for delivering tourists to them. My driver dropped me at a “tourist office” some miles from my hotel destination. After walking some way, asking for directions, and being taken by another taxi to a different hotel than we had clearly agreed upon, I gave up for the night and am settled into a comfortable room with pealing paint, marble floors, a few bugs (don't bite), a sit down toilet, air conditioning that works, and the folks here helped me make my electricity adapter work so I can recharge my computer. Though the $17 charge is likely double the locals' rate, I hardly feel abused.
I'm learning how agreements don't mean what they mean at home: Taking a tourist where he doesn't want to go is ok. Overcharging him is ok. Yet, I get the sense that these folks are really trying to help me. They really believe that their hotel is better than the one I want to go to. I'm wondering what else is ok and what isn't. As I was being driven the 15 km from the airport I recalled the experience of an acquaintance landing in Columbia: He was taken by his cab driver from the airport into the mountains and left there naked. I don't think that would happen here. But the thought made me to feel vulnerable and anxious. The thought interfered with my enjoying fully the excitement of the drive: no lanes, weaving in and out of traffic at breakneck speeds with cars separated by inches, - fractions of an inch. It must be experienced to be believed. It is a wonder of human ability that driving like this is possible. So it begins. Adventure. I'm loving it. No accounting for peoples' tastes.