Arrived in Delhi last night, and all I can think is... naive, naive, naive. Me with my romantic notions of India. Apparetnly when the Lonelyplant guidebook said the Paharganj Area had a "seedy reputation for drugs and dodgy characters - not everyone's cup of tea" I eroneously pictured something like Mission Beach, where I lived in college, where your neighbors all sold pot, but the vibe was chill and artsy. Recall that hotel room in Leo Dicaprio's "The Beach" where his acquaintance OD's on heroine? Well apparently that hotel is a chain and I'm staying in the India branch! It's my own fault - who could resist $4 per night lodgings? I'm going to have to up the budget a bit.
I have a day to kill in Delhi, but it seems that I'd have to get in a car or rickshaw to leave this area, and let me tell you there is no roller coaster ride that compares to my ride home from the airport last night. Lane lines do not apply, cows are everywhere, pedestrians are for target practive, people bicycle on the highway with carts at their backs. lights don't mean much either.
I never really comprehended what it was like to be a woman in a country like India. perhaps it is better for locals, but the searing glances and advances from Indian men are a bit demoralizing. And they come at you 10 at a time. This morning, I resolved to stiffen my back and I threw a shawl over my head and neck and donned some mirrored sunglasses, which gave me a nice "rich Dubai girl" look. You basically just have to not respond to them, even when they are right in your face insisting you respond. If you say no, or respond in any fashion, it only eggs on the conversation further. The next time I hear an American bitch about the political correctness of treatment of women, or the next time I hear an Anerican, man or woman, claim not to be a feminist, I'm going to scream. We don't know how good we've got it.
Happy to find an internet room, though. Going up to get a bite on the roof of this place and watch the bazaar pass by. I will be in Dehradun tomorrow and at the farm shortly thereafter. I keep picturing Vandana Shiva as my Mother Mary, knowing that if I can just reach her, she will provide safe, clean lodgings and a respite from these pestulant men. Will write from there! Please disregard the somber tone of this email - it was a tough night, but I'm sure once I leave the city it will be much better!