Incredible India In The Summer
January 1, 1970
by Douglas Langat
My friends and I made the grave mistake of picturing Delhi as a place that is hot throughout the year
That was mistake that we paid for dearly. Due to a mix-up that saw us locked out of the airport in the dead of the night and 3 hours before our taxi was to arrive, we found ourselves having to brave 7 degrees Celsius of cold in light clothing; very light clothing, might I add. However, the arrival of our taxi was the last of our troubles. The time taken from the airport to our destination was about an hour, which gave us more than enough time to view New Delhi in all its glory at dawn.
We were in Delhi due to an AIESEC exchange program; a trip we had began planning 6 months prior to that in a university classroom in Nairobi, where we all reside. 6 months of accumulated anxiety and excitement were still not enough for us; we were still left overwhelmed by Delhi, and on our first day at that. We stayed in an intern house at a place called Paschim Vihar. The house was bigger than most houses I’d visited at Nairobi, but it was fittingly big; it housed many interns from various nationalities. We instantly made several friends, and by the first day we were already up and about. No sooner had we settled than some wonderful interns from Afghanistan whisked us away from the house, purposing to show us as much of Delhi as was possible within one day.
A day in the life of a Kenyan in Delhi
This was how most days played out from then on; we go to our respective work places, we visit a new place within Delhi, and then find an activity for the night time. For every day of our six week stay, we found a new place to visit in Delhi; that is the reason why I found Delhi to be overwhelming; Positively overwhelming, of course.
Well, there were times during which we were not as positively overwhelmed; we did not expect the constant and unnecessary hooting of cars, of which the drivers were not very safe either. Additionally, we received a lot of stares as black people. People would call their family to come look at us through their windows, something which we saw a lot of on the streets and on the Delhi metro; The Delhi metro of course was our most interesting experience. A baby once reached out to touch my hair, seeing as it was nothing like he had ever seen before. The little man was so shocked, but I found it to be adorable. Who wouldn’t?
Our wonderful housemates
The best part of our stay there were our housemates; they were such lovely people who involved us in everything. We toured the city together, we ate together, played games together and we partied together. We became very close to the Egyptian interns; not necessarily because we had the Africa connection, but mostly because we really clicked together. They inducted us into the Delhi nightlife; a successful induction at that. The club life was simply spectacular. The DJ played a lot of EDM, all of which had sick drops; but nothing got us more hype than when the DJ would play African music; we once heard ‘Shake ya bam bam’ by Timaya and ‘Do Me’ by P Square, at which we point we lost our minds in excitement. They were also the first to introduce us to Hard Rock Cafe, something which I’d never seen while in Nairobi but had heard of severally. The karaoke was otherworldly, and their burgers are what kept us going back.
The saddest part was seeing the interns leave one by one; tears were shed on all our parts because we had gotten so attached to each other.
Contrary to the jovial mood of this pose, Delhi had its fair share of major disappointments. Some were too big. However, I do not regret a single one of these disappointments. Every person who I met and every bad experience which I went through was a learning experience for us. About being careful; being responsible; not being too trusting, which I learnt that the hard way. I went to a barbershop and the barber decided to ‘trim’ my hair with a NUMBER ZERO BLADE. You can imagine what I had to go through for the remainder of my time there. My head looked like a soccer ball. I never risked having my head on the floor at any one time; someone might have come by and try taking a free kick.
I joke 🙂
One of the highlights of my Delhi trip was our visit to Taj Mahal. It is a spectacular piece of architecture, and it generated such an incredible and buzzing atmosphere; the scorching heat could not take our excitement; yes, by the time of our Taj Mahal trip the 7 degrees nights were no longer a thing. The weather had changed drastically, but we were grateful nevertheless. We spent a lot of time there, and we covered a lot of ground before we even linked up with our guide; something which we considered a personal achievement.
And of course, there was the Holi Festival of Colours.
The pictures speak for themselves, really.
The colours were absolutely beautiful; and with the aid of a water gun, not a single person was spared.
Would I visit India again?
Definitely. It’s being four months since I left there and I really miss it. I miss my friends. The food. The bazaars where clothes were being sold at extra cheap prices. The house caretaker’s son, Samir, who was an absolute joy. The sites. And most of all, the diversity in culture. I went there basically for work and I came back to Kenya with much more than the addition of ‘experience’ into my CV. I will definitely go back there in the future.
That was my experience of magic outside of my comfort zone 🙂