After two months of writting, deleting and rewritting, here is finaly the first blog post about my way back in India. A special blog post for a special moment. India will always be India, whatever happens and that’s why I love this country. India confuses you, whether you are a neewby or an experienced India traveller. It keeps for you special suprises which will turn your certainties and plans upside down. When travelling in India, it’s time to let it go and follow this impredictible but delightfully enchanting indian vibe.
After this love letter to India, back to business. The plan was simple. I was going to stay one month in delhi – where I spent 9 wonderful month between June 2011 and February 2012 – with 3 objectives : Volunteer in an hostel, learn Hindi and see friends. Once done, I just had to put my thumb up and take with me my recent Hindi learning to travel north of India by hitchhiking.
Back in India AND Chaos
Beleive it or not, Ganesh and Krishna didn’t plan a smooth landing and acclimatation for me. My plain landed few days after the national day “Diwali” (October 30th), reserved for firecrackers and dancing in the Indian Capital. 3 days later, pollution levels were 40 times the maximum authorized by the WHO and “only” 20 times when I arrived on the 10 of November. Fortunately, I avoided the mask mandatory period, I would have been a bit overwhelmed to look like a japanese tourist in the middle of the post-apocaliptycal Delhi smog.
source : financialexpress.com
Finaly, this “minor” sanitary issue will quickly be replaced in every mouth in India by an incredible news from the Indian government.
The (in)famous demonetization
On the 8th of November at 8pm, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, declared that from midnight all 500 and 1000 roupies notes will be banished and will have to be exchanged at the bank for smaller notes. India, a country ruled by cash where 50% of the population doesn’t have a bank account, just received a massive knock out.
Learning the piece of news the day before my departure, I tried to use my brain and spent my last hours in france withdrawing some cash to change it at the New Delhi airport. A good but finaly useless idea, as all the money exchange at the airport where out of cash at my arrival, 10th of November, 5 am. That’s when the Karma enters the game. A french guy I met in the planned proposed me to drop me at my hostel by Uber. As I entered the car, I couldn’t resist to thinking – with a very hypocritical compassion – about the 50 or more tourists blocked at the airport, cashless and without a phone to call their hotel.
Once arrived to my friend’s hostel “Bed & Chai“, Coraline gave me some 4000 roupies in old notes and came with me to exchange at the bank. Karma again 🙂 Back in India and lucky
The next few days have been realy rough for locals and foreigners. Banks and ATMs “attacked” by hundreds of people every day. It was not rare to see the ATM running out of cash on you after you stoud one hour in line for you precious pieces of paper.
The atmospere was tensed in the streets and in the foreigners hostels. For example, it was realy easy to guess who had money or not. If you had a beer in you hand, it meant “Oh fuck yeah ! I deserved so much for my patience at the ATM and fuck !! I have money now !”. On the other side, a glass of water meant “fuck this morron and his beer as I don’t have enough money to buy tomatos”.
Leaving and travelling in New Delhi is not the same
However, in the middle of this huge mess, something was missing since I was back in India. I didn’t have the opportunity to see my “long time no see” delhi friends. Normal when you think about it, I’m travelling and they are working. Some of them were excaping the smog on weekends and with all this money issue, they had a hard time too. Suddently it struck me, Delhi without friends and your daily routine work – party – sleep is absolutely not the same. Moreover, every monuments rates reached 500 roupies (50 for locals ) and as no body had money, not easy.
So it quickly became very clear, I was back in India, I had to move, to do what I came for, travel ! And so I left Delhi after 4 days to Jaipur in Rajasthan. Freestyle India, the only way.
Not a bad experience, just a welcome message from India
While reading this blog post, some might think that I regret passing through New Delhi. Not at all ! I enjoyed every moment from the exit of the plain to the old Delhi streets and meeting indians in ATM queues. It was just very different from what I imagined. I loved no being in my confort zone, I loved this ambiant chaos, I loved the indians ingenuity facing these issues and the most important, I loved receiving the message from India itself : “Welcome, wherever you come from, whoever you are, travelling here is not easy so move your ass and enjoy !”
Today I’m in Gokarna, alive and ssooo well ! Here are few pics from Delhi ! See you soon !