Thanksgiving with the Indians!

No, no, not those Indians.  We arrived to Delhi on the morning of Turkey day to watch the sun rise and be driven around in circles by a taxi driver who was trying to get us to stay in a hotel room where he would get a commission (this is common practice).  Eventually, we got our point across and were dropped off in the filthy and crowded tourist ghetto of Parhar ganj.  I was a deer in the headlights if there ever was one.  I consider myself a fairly well seasoned traveller, but I had never seen anything like this.  We dodged cow dung while trying not to get run over by a rickshaw, bull or car as we evenutally found our way to the equally filthy Hotel Anoop.  Courtney and I both napped within minutes of entering the room, partly because of the lack of sleep on the flight and probably more so because of the intensity that Delhi and specifically Parhar ganj, brings to the table.

We set out in the wild world before quickly learing that all roads lead to the tourist office.  The story usually goes like this–A five step guide:
1) Friendly young man approaches befuddled American couple and initiates conversation–“where are you from, what is your name, etc”
2) Set up for more conversation–“I’m practicing my English”
3) Express sympathy for foreigners–“You’ll have lots of strangers coming up to you and trying to sell you things…” wait a minute, aren’t you a stranger?
4) “I don’t do any business with you.” (code for I’ll just get a commission when I take you to the tourist office).
5) “How long will you stay in Delhi?” quickly followed by “Delhi has nothing to see” and then “you should go see the tourist office to get a map and free information.”

We went through this charade a few times before getting really fed up. It is a bit infuriating, sometimes funny, but mostly sad. It is a testament to just how desperate people are to earn a living in India.

We probably walked over 10 Km that day, not really seeing a whole lot, but somehow getting a feel for the city and getting a sense of idea. I’ve never seen poverty so abject or people so desperate. As we sat down to our Thanksgiving meal (I had chicken), it was about as clear as ever just how much I have to be thankful for.

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