Chalo Dilli!

I arrived in Delhi last night with a couple of other great girls who will also be studying in the AIIS (American Institute of Indian Studies) Hindi program.

About the plane ride: I landed in Newark and met up with my aunt and uncle, eating a Boston Kreme donut as we chatted. As a West Coaster, even I will admit that Dunkin Donuts is infinitely better than Krispy Kreme. As a sidenote, I cannot believe there is a Dunkin Donuts in New Delhi, but I have yet to see one grace the face of the West Coast of the USA. What gives? Delhi really is a cosmopolitan city though, at least when it comes to fast food joints and American food. I’ve never been to a TGI Friday’s in America, let alone India, but I saw one as we were driving through Delhi last night. We also drove by a McDonalds and a KFC. The difference in perception of fast food restaurants between India and America really is hilarious though. In America, McDonalds is the place you go to when you’re on a road trip with friends and looking to score some cheap, edible food at the first place after the highway exit. In India, it’s relatively more expensive (compared to most other Indian food places) place, so it’s seen as a restaurant a middle class family might go out to when they’re looking to splurge on dinner. I will say for the record, that the only KFC I’ve ever been to in India was on-par with, and maybe even better than any KFC I’ve been to in America. And spicier. 

The second leg of the journey from Newark to Delhi was 14 hours.My initial reaction was “Bleh…” but it wasn’t all that bad. There were so many in-flight movies  to choose from, ranging from Delhi Belly to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (which, as I discovered as I was watching it for the first time yesterday, is kind-of overrated). When I wasn’t sleeping or watching TV, I was chatting with the Christian missionary and Sikh woman in the seats next to me. I feel this is the beginning of a really bad airplane joke “A Christian missionary, a Sikh neurosurgeon, and an agnostic Hindu are sitting on a plane…” I spent most of that time listening to the bubbly missionary talk about Christ. It’s a smart move on her part–proselytizing on plane–because then the victims (ahem, I mean audience) have no means of escape. But she was really sweet, so I didn’t feel like getting into a debate with her, and she gave me a cross as a parting memento, telling me that if I ask God, I too can find faith. Hmmmm.

The newly redone Delhi airport is ridiculously nice, probably better than pretty much any American airport. So clean and well-organized. Indian airports really have stepped it up a notch. I remember them as they were ten years ago, and suffice to say…they were nightmarish. They’re much better now though.  And for once, I didn’t have any trouble as I was going through Indian customs. Hooray!

I haven’t been speaking too much Hindi yet, only a little bit with the driver on the way to the hotel, but I’m looking forward to speaking much more Hindi in the near future. Not looking forward to the weather. Right now I’m sitting in the nicely air-conditioned hotel room, but outside, it’s already 88 degrees F (that’s on the low side) at 6 in the morning, and it’ll only get hotter.

I’ve already met so many great people from all walks of life in the program. One is studying anthropology in  L.A,  another is an aspiring actress from South Carolina, another is a grad student from Chicago who will is studying Tibetan and once spent 3 months in a nunnery in Ladakh. Will update once I meet more people!Image

That’s the view from my hotel room. It’s not exactly a great view of Delhi, but I’ll hopefully have better ones to upload later in the day.