After 39 hours on a train from Goa to Delhi, I am worked. The train ride itself, which I was looking forward to, turned out to be a disappointment. I made the mistake of taking an air conditioned sleeper car. These cars have double paned tinted windows, and most of those are totally fogged up because of all the water between the panes. There were a couple of windows that were clear enough to see out of, but they were in private bunks, and the passengers had their curtains closed. Unlike trains in China, there is no dining car to go to if you can’t find a window to look out of in your own car. My only chance to get a view outside of the train was when the train staff would let me open the door of the car and stand looking out – a few times. This is how I got my first views of Delhi….
First impression of Delhi from the train approaching the H Nizamuddin station: “Oh my God, what a DUMP! Why did I come to this place?!?!”. It is literally is a garbage dump with hundreds, if not thousands of people with tarp tents and small shacks living on top of piles of garbage stacked near the train tracks. Basically these people live in and on garbage. I’m not sure how far the garbage and slums reach away from the station, because I only was able to get a view outside when we were still about ten minutes outside the station (moving slowly)
I was standing at the open door of the train car watching as we made our way towards the station, and was just blown away by what I was seeing. It was 6am, and people were going about their morning routines – I saw many many people pissing and shitting along side the train tracks as we rolled on by. People were brushing their teeth near a river. However, when the train crossed the bridge, I honestly had to hold my breath because the smell of the black water was so overwhelming. The smell away from the river was horrible too, mainly because the toilets on the trains literally consist of a hole in the floor that goes directly onto the tracks – you can look down and see the tracks during the day. It was really a shocking and sad way to be introduced to this city.
All that said, I was pleasantly surprised about how easy it was to get to my hotel. It started out with a lot of walking – I walked from the train station to the closest Metro station. It was a long roughly 5 kilometer walk with both my packs, but after 39 hours in that train, I wasn’t about to sit down in an auto rickshaw or taxi! And I hate to say it, but from my experience in India so far, I had very low expectations of what the Metro system would be here. However, I was happy to see that it’s fantastic – almost identical to the BTS in Bangkok, and much nicer than the MUNI trains in San Francisco. The stations are clean, and the trains even cleaner. My only issue was with the passengers. Just as in Shanghai, when a train stops at the station and there is a large crowd getting off, and a large crowd getting on, the two just collide like two waves, and it’s all pushing and shoving to get in/out, no waiting. Oh well, what can you do? Also to my pleasant surprise, my hotel is about a 2 minute walk from the Karol Bagh Metro station, and I easily found it on foot.
So I’ve only been here a few hours and a lot seems to have happened. Soon I’ll venture out for food. I’m only three stops from Connaught Place, which seems to be a major tourist center, and should have decent food.