Sometimes I close my eyes trying to imagine the irregularly shaped rectangle of sky my eyes would encounter as I lay my head back on the cool steps leading up to the roof. The dust was nothing compared to the view of the sky, so close it threatened to blind me. What I remember most about Delhi is the vast expanse of the sky from those same steps. The steps that lead to the roof overlooking the alleyways below. All the other houses and buildings stacked like pancakes all around. Kites were connected to every roof. The gentle sun in the morning hours and it’s cruel heat at noon.
Getting to India was a trip in itself. For six hours I roamed around Kuwait International Airport, enjoying my time alone and reveling in the fact that if I wanted hot chocolate I could buy it whenever I please, because I was in charge of myself this time. Perhaps the most beautiful thing I heard in Kuwait was the evening prayer being said in Arabic over the loudspeakers. Simple words in a language I couldn’t understand but found beautiful had the authority to silence a bustling international airport. It haunted me for the rest of the trip. We were all united in our silence regardless of our faith. The last image I have of Kuwait is the sea of black ink, the sea of heads as everyone ran up the stairs to the side of the plane. There was a warm breeze and the yellow lights cast everything in a sort of hazy dreaminess.
I was in a chaotic state of mind the first night my friends and I took a stroll down to the market near Dwarka Mor metro station. Rickshaws flew by us at speeds I thought impossible looking at the lanky men pulling them along. Motorcycles and scooters narrowly missed hitting us as I realized that there were no sidewalks here. People eyed us. And the unmistakable sound of rapid fire Hindi, as well as other languages sent my mind reeling and paralyzed my tongue.
Delhi is a city of paradoxes. It is overwhelming, overpowering. Beautiful, bright eyes of impoverished children weaving in and out of traffic on the highways haunted me. Rickshaws and the luxury cars cruising beside them put into perspective a city of sharp contrasts. In the same day I wandered through Chandi Chowk and enjoyed a strawberry shake in a cafÃ© that one could find on a Manhattan street. In a daze, I immersed myself in the pool of chaos that was Chandni Chowk: the persistent yells of the vendors, the shoulders jutting into you, the refreshing coolness of lassi. We had gone from bargaining for a set of bangles to price tags bearing a price thousands of rupees more than the prices we heard in the alleyways of Chandni Chowk. Sitting in that cafÃ© next to India’s answer to Borders Book Store: Crossword Book Store, I wondered about the worlds within this world.
During my time in India, I tried to find beauty in things constantly overlooked. The reflection of light in a puddle of dirty water or the fading of a store front in Delhi or the pink walls of the buildings in Jaipur. It was a trip of firsts: my first time travelling alone, my first time in Asia, my first time without any family at all.
On my trip back home I had memories of a multi faceted city, the hill stations of the Himalayas and a landscape that reflected the colors of the sun to keep me company.
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