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Where are the crowds? Where is the curry? India Day One

From the moment that I exited the plane, I realized that India was nothing like I anticipated. We landed in the middle of the afternoon and the airport was empty! where were the crowds that I heard so much about? (I now know more about India flight patterns) Nothing smelled like curry!!!

Delhi Airport

My guide, Jai, met me after arrivals and we began our adventure into the city. The drive to our hotel was surprisingly calm. In many ways, the layout of Delhi reminded me a lot of Mexico City. Similarly, upscale neighborhoods were guarded by tall walls with high security gates. Apparently, the traffic in Delhi is also similar to Mexico City. Lucky for me, it was Saturday so the roads were clear.

We arrived at my hotel, the gorgeous Leela Palace New Delhi, and I had my first experience with the infamous strict security of India; TSA style screening to enter a luxury hotel. Watching hardened security guards roughhousing my belongings outside a 5* palace hotel was a strange dichotomy.

One of my favorite India customs is the hotel welcome greeting. In this greeting, several beautiful women dressed in decorative saris greet you with a bow and Namaste. One of the women, holding a tray of power, approaches and places a bindi on your forehead. Another woman approaches wrapping a flower garland around your neck. You would think that a princess entered the hotel, not an ordinary girl from New York. I couldn't have asked for a better welcome to India.

Leela palace new delhi

Unlike hotels in New York, hotels in India can be over the top without feeling pretentious. My room was decadent yet comfortable. I resisted the urge to face plant on the plush bed and instead rejuvenated with a fresh watermelon juice and headed out on the town.

First stop was the Fab Shop in the Khan Market in Delhi to stock up on clothes. I imagined that by donning typical Indian garb, I would somehow not look like a tourist. It didn't occur to me that there aren't many blond, blue eyed Indians. Fab is a government-owned store that carries clothing and goods made throughout the country. The clothes are of good quality, much better than clothes sold on the street, and the prices are set. Haggling lost its fun for me after living on Canal Street in NYC for years.

Laura Sari at Khan Market 1 Laura Sari at Khan Market 2

A couple outfits later, Jai, Nidhi (the representative from my tour operator) and I had a quick lunch at the lovely Latitude Good Earth Cafe. The menu was full of healthy western dishes like quinoa and kale- but, no curry was in sight. Nidhi interchangeably spoke the waitstaff in both Hindi and English.

earth latitude khan market India Wallpaper

 

Half of the women around me were dressed in traditional clothing and half of them looked like they had just come from the Mall of America. The past, present and future all coexist peacefully in India.

dusk-at-lodhi-garden-delhi 

As the sun was setting, we walked through the lush Lodi Gardens. The park was comfortably full of picnickers, kids playing, and families and friends enjoying the last few days before the heat becomes intolerable. The biggest dahlias that I've ever seen decorated the pathways, leading you towards the Lodhi Mosques. A small child ran past me, parents quickly in tow, ruined a family's photo and I laughed to myself thinking that maybe this place that I thought would be so foreign isn't so foreign afterall. This was just the beginning of my journey, though, and there were still many crowds to come... though not so much curry!

Flowers at Lodhi Garden New Delhi lodhi-garden-new-delh

To celebrate exploring places that are different from our own, our friends at GPS My City are giving away a free city walk download of your choice to the 20 best travel stories about getting lost or discovering something unexpected. To enter, post your travel story in the comments below. The winner will be chosen June 25th!

Read 2687 times Last modified on Wednesday, 25 May 2016 20:31
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