Feeling a bit cooped-up in my hotel this afternoon, I went for a walk though one of the local neighborhoods. It’s been damn hot and dusty in Delhi this week, and despite the haze and stink in the air, I was happy to venture out to explore a bit.
This is my 4th visit in 8 months and I’m approaching the equivalent of 5 weeks “experience” with the city. Now, walking the streets of Delhi, I’m beginning to feel pretty comfortable with my surroundings, but still struggle with the extreme poverty which is everywhere. By contrast, in the states it is easy for me to maintain a bubble of ignorant bliss; I know there is poverty, but the reality is I rarely encounter it directly.
Such dynamic seemingly does not exist here. The juxtaposition of those who have and those who do not have is stark and very much in your face. I cannot imagine how anyone from a first world country can visit and not feel guilty. Today I was reminded how fortunate I am and how easy my life is in comparison to so many here.
Then I returned to the posh hotel I’m calling home for 10 days.
I’m still trying to reconcile my feelings for this city – it’s filthy, the traffic is horrific, core infrastructure is awful, generally speaking I don’t enjoy the traditional foods, and much to my frustration I cannot find a decent beer anywhere. On the other hand … people are incredibly warm, the history is both fascinating and abundant (including three incredible World Heritage Monuments), and perhaps most impressive – the human spirit of resourcefulness and survival is strong. My experiences here really have been amazing.
Despite my mixed emotions, one thing is for certain – both literally and metaphorically, this place is a world away from my day-to-day existence in the states. India is such an interesting place and I’m grateful for these opportunities to visit.