Getting Back on our Feet

nathanielkiddnathanielkidd on 1229090501|%B %d

We’ve been spending a lot of time indoors lately. This has been mostly because of illness. We pushed quite hard for my family’s visit, and when that stress was removed, we crashed. Hard. We were sick for about a week. It wasn’t a horrible illness, we just felt too icky to do anything.

And naturally, (since our room has no windows) it has thrown off our sleep schedule. As near as we can tell, this past week we have been on London time, our waking hours stretching between about 2pm and 2am according to the local clock. We had to fix our schedule by staying up through one night and going to bed early the following one.

It doesn’t help that there is wireless internet in the room, so we can get all of our business done without having to venture out onto the streets. Knowing we can get all of our needs met in here, and knowing what we might have to face out there, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to muster up the courage to hit the streets.

To make matters worse, it seems that every time we do venture out we meet with disaster on Main Bazaar. One morning we had very high ambitions for our to-do list, but when we stepped outside, we found that the sewer had clogged and filled the street with sewage, in some places, several inches deep. India has not yet discovered how to close roads or even put up traffic cones, so life on Main Bazaar was more or less progressing as usual. Pedestrians and rickshaws dodged an army of men frantically trying to tend to the open manholes.

Nicky told us a couple days later that several people actually fell in to the brimming manholes. I don’t even want to think about that.

Needless to say, we didn’t do as much shopping that day as we planned.

On the bright side, we are now feeling well-rested and ready to take on the world (or at least India) again. Our game is ON! Sarah is actually getting the hang of haggling, and we’ve determined a fair price to pay for a rickshaw to Connaught Place. Most importantly, now that we know that most people who want to talk to us don’t have our best interest at heart, and are willing to define and protect our interests more aggressively, we’re not hassled nearly as much as we were in our first few weeks on Main Bazaar. I think they can see it in our eyes. And if they can’t, they can hear it in our forceful decline of their offers.

It feels good to have a sense of control.

As an added bonus, we’ve realized that most people we see on the roads actually don’t want to rip us off, mislead us, or take advantage of us. Most of the people we’ve met approach us fairly aggressively, and this is of course a biased sample of the culture. Of course this is going to be a difficult group of people to deal with! But most of folks we see on the street are just going about their daily business, and would probably be decent enough people if the occasion ever arose for us to interact. Now the trick is finding those occasions.

We’ve even managed to patch things up with the Kashmiri tour agents. We finally ran in to the guy who had been calling us names when my parents were in town, and gave him our side of the story. I think he appreciated hearing our point of view. And while I don’t think we’ll be doing much business with him in the future, we at least won’t have to worry about being harassed as we walk down the street anymore.

All the same, we think that it’s about time to get out of Delhi. Tomorrow we’ll be packing our bags, and we’ll head up to Shimla, hopefully on Sunday. Shimla is the old British hill retreat north of Delhi. We’re hoping that the snow and British architecture will make us feel a little more at home during the Christmas season.

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