Where to start? We went to India for 12 days and it was… so much! So much of everything all together: people with animals, rich with poor, fragrances with shocking smells, beautiful colors with dismal grays, chaos with order… I could go on all day. India was everything that everyone said it is, and more. All those rumors are really true!
After 38 hours of travel (including an epic 14-hour layover adventure in London), my brother David, my husband Colin, myself, and four other teachers (two from America and two from Greece) met in Delhi to unite with the guide for our India teacher tour. It was one of many tour perks that we got picked up from the airport and transported to our hotel. Battling fatigue, we munched dinner, then promptly passed out.
Time zone confusion jolted us awake early, and we threw open the blinds to behold… whiteness. The rumor of Delhi’s winter fog was true! We squinted through the haze while piling into our tour van. Where did the fog end and the pollution begin? See the photo above and judge for yourself. But there was no time to dwell on that, because life was TEEMING around us!
When you’re in New Delhi, you truly feel the fact that India has 1.2 billion inhabitants. You really comprehend that India is the second most populated country in the world, squeezed into a fraction of the geographical size of the United States. Life, with both the good and the gooey parts that come with it, is spewing from the pores of India. It is exciting, exhausting, and mesmerizing. I stared so hard during our trip, my eyes hurt!
We spent much of the first half of the day in India stuck in traffic due to riots in the center of the city that protested the terrible assault of a woman on a bus. But even being stuck in traffic in New Delhi is mesmerizing. On one fifty-foot stretch of road alone, there is enough to look at for days.
You may have heard the rumor that cows abound in India, and though that proved true everywhere else we visited in the country, New Delhi has banned cows lolling in its streets. It hasn’t, however, banned bovines from pulling vehicles, as you see in the photo, below.
But just as we were in the middle of marveling at the urban ox, someone screamed: “ELEPHANT!!!!” Behind us, as we inched along in the smoggy New Delhi traffic, an ELEPHANT was being ridden through the street! Oh day one of India: you did not hold back.
And what of the temperature? In December, New Delhi is a comfortable 55-70 degrees since it is in northern India. I was definitely glad to have brought my fleece jacket, and we spent much of the trip hearing how lucky we were not to be there during the 110 degree summers!
So believe it or not, this article encompasses only the first two hours of our first full day in New Delhi, India. Yes, the rumors are true: There is more to see in two hours in India than perhaps in any other place on Earth. As our tour van pulled up by the New Delhi Railway Station, we piled out onto the gritty pavement to begin the main activity of the day: a tour of an amazing shelter for street children. Teaser: My 6’7″ brother shared some mind-blowing dance moves with them! Stay tuned for the next article.
So what about you? If you have been to India, what were your first impressions? If you haven’t been there yet, how do these initial photos match with your expectations? I look forward to your comments, and to putting my remaining 2,056 India photos into articles for you!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!