My Mom explained to me that we were staying at a hotel something like a Super 8 in the states. That seemed reasonable to me — given my proclivity toward hostels and friends’ couches, I wasn’t worried in the least. And I didn’t need to be. Our hotel is nice. It has air conditioning, wifi and a restaurant with complimentary breakfast.
Traffic is more frightening than Argentina, but maybe less frightening than expected. It doesn’t seem as fast and people on foot weave in and out of the lanes and one ways don’t seem to be actually one way. The horns seem to coincide with some purpose, especially encouraging a car or pedestrian to stay out or get out of the way. It’s reassuring — like drivers really don’t want to run you over.
We slept in this morning. Little JK tells me that our bodies can record up to 30 hours of missed sleep, meaning that we can need catching up for quite a few nights in a row. She’s a neuroscientist, which means that she probably knows everything, or will eventually know everything. So it was good to sleep in.
Then we did jumping jacks in the room for 25 minutes (that’s an average because my Mom did 30 minutes and I did 20 minutes because I got started slow). Then we ventured onto the streets of Delhi, or down one street of Delhi, where the man at the front desk said we should go to the Radisson Blu for coffee. I looked at Mom when we left and said “where?” because I didn’t get why we’d walk to another hotel for coffee. But then we walked for about thirty seconds and between feeling very White and tourist-y looking and trying not to look at the all-bones little boy who walked in front of me for 20 yards, tapping Mom’s elbow and holding out his hand. You don’t want to look, but you don’t want not to look. You want everything to change. As I understand it, giving money to children in India is basically a terrible thing to do because an entire industry has built up around it, making it profitable to maim and starve these children to garner pity and thereby money. Slum Dog Millionaire exposes part of that, if I remember correctly, but I’ve heard it repeated elsewhere and, in my Mom’s words “I just want to scoop him (or her) up and take her (or him) home and send them to school. I just want that wholistic solution.”
This she said after we had made our way into the Radisson Blu, where we sat among other Westerners and Indian men in suits, eating a few feet to the left of the chocolate fondue fountain and the massive buffet of food. I wondered how much of it is saved. At the Old Course, they tried not to waste food, tried to keep things in date and not order to excess, but every day we threw out a mountain of perfectly decent food that would go bad unless used within 24 hours. I couldn’t help wondering where the nearest shelter was. Here it seems like the nearest shelter is outside. But then, would giving food away would solve any problems?
Anyway, the Radisson is gated and the security guards check you for metal on the way in, and there are two magnificent, architecturally-intriguing fountains. Maybe it’s the same in New York, but the beggars aren’t standing outside the Radisson and just down the street there are not vendors with motorcycles passing in between, and open-faced storefronts.
Later we walked down a side street that was quieter and there were garages and fruit stands and some children came out on a balcony to point at us and shout and wave and laugh. That was cute.