The next morning I went out with the hope of discovering the capital of India, but I never suspected how soon my walk would turn into disappointment because of the intense harassment I’d get by begging children, and a whole brood of scammers. Also, my orange sneakers exercised a powerful magnetism on those people, especially on teenagers, who found it impossible not approaching closely to contemplate them.

I returned to the hotel (one for foreigners with the usual amenities of a conventional hotel) almost running, changing sidewalks to mislead the crowd of beggars and swindlers teenagers hovering around me. It wouldn’t be very different the next day, only that I knew what to expect on the street, among which the worst was the vision of child beggars, many of them crippled.

But then came the proverbial encounter with a rickshaw driver (bicycle taxis), about which I wrote a post earlier. I took his advice and bought the typical Indian clothes, with a long shirt almost to the knees.

The next morning, I went out dressed as an Indian, with some beard, and sandals instead of snickers… and Delhi became another city. Thereafter I could walk, take chai (tea with boiling milk), board a rickshaw, stroll through Old Delhi dodging the red spittle (wrapped betel leaves with stimulant effects), and even enjoy the ocean of colors, smells, and flavors.

India is strong; India is incomparable. At last I was able to travel not as a tourist but as another Indian, and I felt ready to begin a pilgrimage to visit the places where the Buddha lived 2500 years ago.

Advertisements