Knowing What You’re Getting Into

They key, it seems at this early junction, to enjoying India is expecting the worst and finding fascination in the chaos. It’s not for everyone. It’s not for a week’s break of rest and relaxation. It is active, high-alert travel.

Keep up your guard or any number of perils may befall you, but most likely it will be in the form of a pedi-cab swerving to avoid a cow. Or something you didn’t know you ate.

So far the annoyances are minor: irritating but non-committal touts (not nearly on par with Morocco), hellish “roads” where the only traffic law is BEEP! and an absolutely baffling railway reservation system.

All of these factors, make small moments of peace feel monumentally clever and well-earned. There are charming families touring the red-fort (the Indians who have the means seem to be excellent tourists of their own country, they far outnumber foreigners at any monument, okay, well the number of Indians anywhere at any given moment is just staggering). There is amazing architecture on a crazy huge scale. There are mothers in bold-colored saris encouraging their babies to wave and smile at us. There are roof-top cafes serving ridiculously good food, at just enough remove from the madness.

So, so far so good. Mandy’s on the same page. Radek will claim that he doesn’t agree with any of this. But I actually think he does.

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