The morning after
My most immediate impression right now is the slight spice-induced queasiness that stems from the pre-wedding function I attended yesterday night. Not that any of the food was bad – on the contrary, it was amazing to taste some old favourites like pani puri, phav baji, and aloo tikki, as well as some unknown snacks (none of us felt the need to help ourselves in actual food after several rounds of snacks).
But well, for now it’s porridge and tea for me, in one of these touristy rooftop cafés in Paharganj (the main Delhi backpacker location), overlooking typical Indian bustle from a safe distance.
A few hours later
I’m again sitting in a café (this time a very artsy – and empty – venue in central Delhi), but nothing much has changed. I am sipping masala chai instead of ginger lemon tea, and am considerably more exhausted than before. My plans have been changing at a dizzying pace (or is that still the queasiness? Or the fact I haven’t had lunch?), and I’ve resorted to not knowing anymore, and waiting for some local friend-person to help me. That is because local non-friend people have been dragging me around different offices from where I was supposed to get train or bus tickets (after someone told me I had to book my train ticket from the tourist office). It seems established that there’s no train available today, nor a bus. Oh, yes: the plan was as simple as getting out of Delhi until my French (ex-host) family arrives and the actual wedding is happening. But there seem to be train strikes or whatever. Who knows. When one guy in one office told me that the only option of getting to the hills would be to take a taxi, which costs more than 100€, I decided that I should reconvene.
Since my friend who is getting married is understandably busy, I spent most of the function yesterday in his friendship group, listening to mostly Hindi conversation over blasting music, while the ring ceremony was held somewhere in the background, attracting interest only from a few people.
As far as my Hinglish (see below) goes, I’m up to speed now – my English has already taken a slightly different accent plus the occasional Hindi word, which probably sounds more odd than authentic, and hopefully not mocking. It also seems more representative of young men’s than women’s speech, although I haven’t had a great sample to check that. It seems wise to hold back on expressions like “bro”, “man”, and, for many additional reasons “cunt” in any case… even though they’re very tempting to add emphasis!
Anyway, so I called one of the people from yesterday, who’d already helped get me a taxi back to the hotel and had told me to ask in case of trouble. I told him about my issue of getting out of town and he said: “Let’s meet after I finish work, and we’ll sort something out!”. As strange as I find their bewilderment about someone (especially, but not only women) travelling alone, sometimes I really do appreciate that protectiveness.
Evening – how it all resolves
Even though I kind of threw the plans arriving a week before the other foreigners (as in, my French host family), the delegation of friends that was set aside to cater for us has swiftly accommodated for me. Right now, I’m sitting in someone’s “spare flat”, and a few people were trying to figure out what they could get me to do to pass my time. Maybe I wasn’t helping that much when I was like “Oh, I like parkour! There surely is even a parkour gym somewhere in Delhi…”. Well, they’ll help with the gym bit – at least something to avoid potato-mode. And shopping also seems to be universal – and to be honest, having a local person with you can actually save quite a lot of money on that.
In the meantime, I am trying to find out how to quickly find lots of interesting people, and try to understand more of what the world looks like from around here.
Just a few things I remember noticing today
- “Also” in place of “too”, e.g. “You should try this one also”
- “Thrice” instead of “three times”, e.g. “We had to queue thrice to get the tickets!”… but seriously, that makes sense – do any non-Indian soeakers use that, too? (Or, also)
- “Even” in unexpected locations, but I don’t have a good example.
… plus lots more stuff (check for yourself, ha). One more thing: some time ago, someone asked me: “but do you know a single Indian who speaks English properly?” … which I found a strange way to put it. As in, there’s loads of English native speakers around here (Yesterday, I met this cute maybe 8 year-old, who already spoke English better than I did age 14), who all speak perfectly fine according to the variety they’ve grown up in. It just happens not to be American or British standard (which, by the way, lots of native Americans or Brits also fail to acquire).
Although, if you are a speaker of Indian English or have some other expertise, please do say if you disagree!
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