09.09.2007 27 °C
It's been just over 24 hours in Delhi and I couldn't be happier to be here! We will be staying at the YMCA Tourist Hostel (New Delhi) for the length of the build. It seems to be centrally located and is teaming with loads of people from the World Health Organization (there is a lecture on leprosy at 10:00 a.m. that will pop into) and Americans in search of Buddha! While the shower is incredibly dodgy, there is a toilet and an air conditioner. So, I am very comfortable.
I managed to sleep for three hours on the first morning, woke up to a breakfast of mutton and peas (had a few bites, thought better of it and opted for six cups of tea instead) and then made my way to an underground market for some bargain shopping. I managed to find a shop that swore my mobile phone would be up and running in a few hours once I provided copies of my passport, driver's license and filled out three forms that would be cross checked for accuracy (which was then explained as necessary in the event that I might be a terrorist). That said, my mobile is not up and running and I can only hope that I will pass the security test today. I will keep you posted.
I then spent two hours in a shop full of the most beautiful pashminas I have ever seen!!! I selected about seven that I just had to have - a few meant as gifts for others, of course - but walked out empty handed when the dear man who runs the shop explained that the very special price would be $2600 AU!!!! Can you imagine??? Apparently it took 40 people 5 1/2 months to make one of them and an entire village to make the rest. While they were absolutely gorgeous, I couldn't quite get my head around paying that much and decided that it was best I avoid making big financial decisions until the jet lag wears off (you can breathe now Andrew).
Upon leaving the markets, however, I couldn't say no to a little boy on the street selling beads for 10R ~ .30 cents AU, I think. As you might imagine, the streets are full of dogs with rabies, people disfigured by leprosy and broken by poverty. It is India and I think I was prepared as I could be for the confrontation. I feel incredibly fortunate to be here.
The build will start tomorrow and I am eager to experience another part of the city. What I know so far is that Bawana is a resettlement coloney about 40kms outside of Delhi. The poverty is extreme and the houses few.
So far Delhi feels like Mexico City or Bangkok amplified by a thousand. I've got a few hours after the lecture and before orientation ... So, off I go!
I will keep in touch and let you know when my mobile is up and running
Love, A xxo