After speaking to my mom about my scary experience, she somehow gave me the strength to suck it up, be more careful, and put it to the side. Like I said in my previous post, I only managed to do that for one day. I hired a hotel taxi to drive me around all day for the equivalence of $20. The driver was Sushil, a kind, shy, twenty-five year old who is on the clock 24 hours a day, seven days a week as a taxi driver and who sends a big chunk of his monthly earnings to his family back in a village near the border of India and Nepal. Through his broken english, I managed to get to know him a bit, since I did spend a whole day with him. He gave me the history of certain monuments, told me how much things really cost so I wouldn’t get ripped off, and was my photographer when needed. When he took me to a place to have a late lunch, I asked him if he was going to eat with me. Shyly he replied that “those” places were not for him, that they were for “guest” like me. When he said that, i felt shame. Here I am, wanting to study Global Poverty and he’s looking up at me. No way. I asked him to please eat with me and that I would pay. He politely refused. I didn’t want to insist too much since I’m not all familiar with the culture and didn’t want to cause a wrong impression. I walked up to the restaurant and ate alone, paying about $13 for my meal and eating only half of it at most.
It’s been exactly a week since I left the states and I’m barely getting to my first post. I would say it took the whole week for me to finally make sense of that fact that I’m here, in India, all by myself; something totally out of my comfort zone. Good, that’s what I needed. I would love to say so far so good but I can’t because my first night here in India was a total nerve wrecking experience and I would say it pretty much shut me down until today. Here goes the story: I walked out of the New Delhi Airport and of course I saw a whole bunch of taxi drivers waiting for customers. I make eye contact with one friendly looking one and he waves me over. Yup, big mistake. As soon as I get in the car, which at first glance looked like a taxi, another guy jumps in. Right then and there I knew I had messed up but I tried to keep my calm, not jumping to total conclusions. I tell them the name of the hotel I had made reservations for and already payed in full and tell them that according to the internet it should only be 2.5 miles away. One of the guy quickly replies that it is more like 10 miles away. We drive around as “the friendly looking one” begins to bombard me with questions about my family, where I’m from, work, school, etc. I already had a funny feeling in my tummy so I vaguely answered, paying more attention to where we were going. I noticed a turn into the most sketchiest street I’ve ever seen. It could be that I was scared and it was about 3am in the morning that influenced this thought, but I was seriously scared. I couldn’t help but express to them that I was nervous and that I didn’t think the hotel was that way. They spoke amongst themselves in Hindi, which I totally can’t understand. As soon as we turn into an alley-looking street I begin to cry, I’m so scared at this point that I yell at them to stop the car. They tell me to calm down and I tell them to take me to the airport. I don’t really pray, but you bet I began to pray at this point and I beg them to take me back. Once again, they talk amongst themselves and finally back the car up onto the shady street we were on and again onto the boulevard where I could see all the different hotels. I don’t know exactly what softened up their heart, but they decided to take me near the hotel where I had reservations for and gave me the b.s. excuse that it was a one way street and that they couldn’t drop me off in front. At this point I didn’t care, I saw my hotel and I just wanted to get out. Crying I gave them the 2,000 rupees they asked for (I was told afterwards that they were only suppose to charge me 300 rupees at most). Getting to the hotel was a relief, but that experience haunted me for the days that came after. The following day I changed hotels to one one closer to the heart of New Delhi, and while I was there, I only came out once to sight see. Other than that I was pretty much stuck in my room scared to come out since all of what I saw were mostly men, thinking to myself about the cast system, the different culture and the different vibe. The streets were dirty, crowded and I hardly saw a woman in sight. I thought to myself ‘ I want to go home’.