Adventures in India Part 2: Delhi the City of the Traffic Jam
I know what a sardine feels like. After flying Kingfisher Air they pack their economy class seats so close together that you can barely fit a flat book between your legs and the seat in front of you. Needless to say I was more than happy to step off the plane into the familiar Delhi Airport. It was nearly midnight so the ride from the airport to the east side of town would be a piece of cake this time of night. It took about 45 min before I recognized the old hotel sign I had stayed at before. I paid the taxi driver and got out of the car and walked to the nearby housing neighborhood where I was supposed to stay. What I forgot was that they locked the gates at 12:00am so I was locked out of my host home. So I walked to the far side of the development where the NGO is headquartered and saw that they didn’t have spikes on the top of the gates over there so I was able to lift my luggage over the gate then squeeze my body underneath the gate when the watch man wasn’t looking. I then walked back to the other side of the neighborhood to the house I was staying at. Needless to say, I was glad when I walked up the stairs to see Sean opening his door and poking his head out looking down the stairs towards me.
Sean was my brother’s college roommate who I had known for several years. So it was good the next day to spend the morning catching up on the last few years and to meet his wife and kids. He had felt the call to work abroad when he was much younger but never had a specific direction. He joined a company and went to orientation and met this girl Anne and shortly afterward they got married and spent 6 weeks in India! A few years later they moved back to work full time. Having been to India before I was simply amazed at the commitment they displayed especially right after they were married as that is not ideal location for “newlyweds”.
In the late morning we went to the NGO and had a staff meeting. This felt like a home coming getting to see all my old friends with whom I had worked with two years before. The work had grown and continued since I was there and it was exciting to see and hear about it. Many of these staff members had sacrificed potential careers and family approval because they believed in the work they were doing and seeing their perseverance was such a blessing to me. I was so happy to partake of in the evening meeting they have for university students to discuss important topics that affect them with a truthful approach. And to see the kids from the slum that they work with and to see where they are today even compared to two years ago!
Later in the day I was able to do a study with Sean and with a volunteer from the NGO. We sat and had a good discussion about the beginning of the world and the one who designed it. At the end of the conversation, Sean looks at both of us and says “Hey, let’s go get a Traffic Jam”. Now having been in Delhi before, I thought he was crazy why would I want to go get in a hot car and sit in crazy traffic risking my life and sucking in loads of dust. It had to be one of the stupidest suggestions I had ever heard. The other volunteer had a confused look on his face and so I know he was thinking the same thing as well. Then Sean laughed and said we should follow him. He took us a little ways down the street to this little juice shop and there was a sign that said traffic Jam’s served here. Curious as to what a traffic jam was we ordered one. After about 10 min of waiting they brought us this large cup filled with ice cream and lots of unwashed cut up fruit. Immediately my I was wondering if I should eat it or not. I finally decided I was only there for a couple days so even if that gave me a “traffic jam” it would be worth it! And boy was I glad I did. It was full of amazing tropical fruit and ice cream and in the heat it hit just the spot.
The next day was Sunday; at the morning gathering, my friend Sean was using the whole idea of the confusion over the Traffic Jam in comparison to confusion about who J.C. is. I thought it was an excellent analogy and it made me laugh but at the same time I had to stop and ask myself do I make my explanations clear of who J.C. is and what he has done.
For lunch that afternoon I went out with a friend of mine named James Tucker or J.T for short and a few other people. He is one of the funniest guys I have ever met. He is full of humor and yet he is a very deep person. Every time I get to spend time with that man I walk away feeling wiser and more educated; so needless to say, lunch was a riot as group of us talked about life in India and some of the challenges and the stories that make you laugh and want to cry at the same time.
After lunch, I went back to Sean’s house via the metro system of Delhi. There is nothing quite like the metro of Delhi: more people than the fire inspection would allow, body odor that permeates your nostrils and the constant awareness of your pockets so that they don’t get picked. From there I took a rickshaw to a local market. I had to test my memory and bartering skills to see if I was on my A game. Within minutes I found the shop I was looking for. There I was able to purchase the gifts I wanted to bring back home. And within 20 minutes I purchased everything I was looking for. Once I was back at Sean’s house we played a game called Settlers of Catan which is one of my favorites. My friends from the NGO came over as well to play with us and my last night in Delhi was filled with a good time among friends.
After a quick night and a 3am ride to the airport I found my way back to Bangalore and a city south of it called Salem.