Wow. That is the only word that came to mind when we officially landed in India. As the airport doors opened and we walked outside around 10pm local time, it felt as though we were willingly feeding ourselves to an ocean full of hungry sharks. It was colder than we expected, extremely foggy and of course we were super disoriented from traveling for almost 24 hours. Not to mention, we stuck out like a sore thumb screaming TOURIST. From every which direction, there was someone offering their transportation services. Our AirBnB host recommended we get a pre-paid taxi, which should cost around 500 Rupees. Knowing this, you could imagine my face when a man told us it would be 1500 Rupees. He obviously didn't think I did my homework way in advance. Once we finally got in our cab, it hit us - we don't speak the same language. He spoke Hindi, we spoke English so as we slowly left the airport, our fear of not making it to our AirBnB safely began to increase. Not only were our spoken words different but our written alphabet is also different which adds a whole new level of confusion. We are staying in an area called Defense Colony which is known to be a nice, safe neighborhood but quite difficult to find as there are many different lanes, numbers, complexes, etc. We have no idea where we are going, he has no idea where he is going so all we could do is rub our lucky crystals (thanks, Carole!) and have faith it would all work out.
In the short yet long 30 minute ride, I noticed the streets of India put New York, San Francisco, Beijing, Rome, LA and any other city in the world to shame. There is no organization to the way they drive. Plus, they honk nonstop. Not in an aggressive fashion but in a "hey, i'm here, don't hit me" kind of way. It's almost as though honking is it's own language here. As we are in the midst of chaos, I tried to take a breath and look around to see what my surroundings were. In that very moment, I noticed cows on the sides of the road just chilling, locals having bonfires in the street to stay warm, infants being held by their mothers on the back of a moped with no support but the strength of her arms and street food being cooked on every corner which I'm pretty sure wouldn't pass the health code in the US. It was mind blowing. We felt as though we were on a movie set and were waiting for the Director to yell "cut". Welcome to India we thought.
Our cab driver asked about 6 people along the way how to get to our AirBnB. Everyone was actually super helpful and willing to point him in the right direction. We could tell he was getting frustrated since our ride lasted longer than any of us expected so we decided to just get out and walk. This might not have been the smartest idea at first, but eventually, we made it to our home for the next 4 nights, in one piece. And it sure was a breath of fresh air to be greeted by our warm and fuzzy hosts in front of their beautiful, what they call, Tranquil place.