Either you love it or you hate it. That is the general feeling people have about India. If I talk about my feelings towards this country some people start smiling, get dreamy eyes and sigh “ah yes, India, I love it”. Others look at me with a blanc, slightly frightened expression and disbelieve in their eyes. Even I can mention many reasons why it is total craziness, why I shouldn’t want to stay. But if I think about the many special moments, unexpected kindness and lovely craziness I have encountered even in the short period of 10 days, I cannot do anything else than smile, and get a warm feeling throughout my body. And this warmth is not only because of the overwhelming, sizzling heat which covers the days as a thick woolen blanket.
Unfortunately India has been in the news on many occasions of mistreatment of women. Even though I have never encountered any difficulties in my many solo walks and travels throughout the country, I did feel slightly uncomfortable when walking back around 22.30 through the little streets of my new neighborhood. I forgot that in the evening the streets become the domain of street dogs. Barking and growling that will send shivers up your spine. Confident and without a sign of fear I walk further, as both the entrance and the exit of the street are guarded by groups of dogs. When also a guy on a motorcycle crosses me, starts to slow down and even stops and glances back, an unhappy scenario is flashing through my mind. Almost there, ready to run if necessary, I pass the motorcycle and the dogs. I reach the cross road and the motorcycle passes me. I smile and realize he was making sure I did not have any troubles passing the dogs.
To some it might sound unbelievable and again crazy as hell, but I conquer the streets of Delhi by bike. A funky orange bike, which would be an instant hit on Instagram. This white girl one-man-show draws some attention as can be expected. From lovely women waving, guys asking if im ok, to a group of elderly men proclaiming they were thinking about steeling the bike. However the other day something happend I never thought would happen here. I mean Delhi traffic is chaotic and busy, unbelievable busy. So when trying to cross the street during rush hour I wait, look, wait some more, make an attempt to cross, go back, and wait again. Then, when cars, busses, and motorcycles are rushing by, a big public bus stops holding back traffic and signals me to cross the street.
And this is not all, certainly not, but if I would describe all my reasons to stay it would take pages, many many pages. Because what feeling is better than seeing a mother swinging her daughter through the air in the middle of a busy street, getting some delicious aubergine because you mentioned it is your favorite, and the bright smile of a kid selling balloons on the street when you pretend to scare him? It is the little things that are locked in my heart and make me want to stay. Because “this is india. This is the land of the heart. This is where the heart is king”.*