A typical New Delhi auto rickshaw.
My beloved Ploof restaurant.
October 20, 2007

Wow. How first impressions change.

One year ago I remember being pleasantly surprised by Delhi. I think it was because I was expecting putrid smells and, geez, I
don’t even know what else. But basically complete horror. I didn’t experience that. Despite staying in the most God-awful
place in my life, I actually enjoyed stumbling across parks and spending time in the embassy area while waiting to get my
Russian visa issued.

Today was a bit different.

I came in during the day (whereas last time I came in at night). All I saw was brown haze when coming out of the airport. Then
when I was being driven to the hotel, certain things were looking a bit familiar. But at the same time, everything I was seeing
looked the same as the things I saw just two minutes earlier. Nearly every street congested with street foods, loads of people
eating the street food, cars, auto-rickshaws, insane horn honking and dust flying up looked identical to the street next to it. All
I could think was 'My sister would seriously kill me if I ever had her come here.'

Welcome to New Delhi.

When I got to the hotel, I met Christine – a girl (now friend) who I was in touch with prior to leaving for my trip. It turned out
we were going to be in Delhi at the same time so we thought it would be a great idea to travel together in India for a bit. After
many emails and a few chats on the phone, we were finally meeting each other in person. I think we were both very happy to
find that we would be dealing with this city for the day with somebody else. I was giving myself instant props for handling it
(read: New Delhi) so well last year on my own.

We had a driver who would take us around for the day. The first place we wanted to go was to a place with sarees. We knew we
wanted to buy one for the wedding we are going to. There were so many to choose from – and I happened to find the one I
loved after only being showed two different ones. But I still wasn’t going to take the bait right away. And since Christine hadn’t
fallen in love with any, we got taken to a couple more saree places. Both of those had less variety and way higher prices. To
saree place #1 we would go back to. I was reunited with my red and blue piece of silk and Christine ended up finding one that
looked really nice on her. All they needed to do was make the top that goes underneath for us and then they would deliver it to
our hotel.

All of that saree shopping made us hungry. We thought it would be a great idea to head to a highlighted restaurant in our
Lonely Planet.

Yeah…not a great idea at all.

An hour and a half later our driver would eventually find it just to see that it wasn’t even open. And I’m not talking ‘open’ as
far as business hours go. I’m talking ‘open’ as far as being in business. Damn them. We eventually found another restaurant –
this time a Southern Indian place with a totally local crowd. Ahhh…reunited with this food. But now we were fed and happy.

During our drive we passed a few parks (one that I went to last time) and the India Gate…but, more or less, we were passing
the same streets with the same vendors with the same cars and auto-rickshaws and the same congestion. We were pretty
much done with the scene, to be honest.

Back to the hotel we would go.

And finally we would see a different scene. A scene of lights and colorful flowers for a festival that was going on. It truly had a
Christmas vibe. Hey…I’m on-board with that!

Last year I had an incredible meal at a seafood restaurant called Ploof. I remember loving the atmosphere there. So I made an
executive decision that this would be up our alley. And how right I was! Were we really still in New Delhi? There was no way.
This was too zen. Too peaceful. Too modern. Ohhh, how we needed this!

And when we got back to our hotel, the festival would be in full swing and we would have sarees waiting for us. Hooray!

And now we are done with Delhi. Officially. All we need to do is get picked up in the morning to get taken to the airport.

The best thing about Delhi this time around is getting the hell out of Delhi…
Back to India.
The man we bought our sarees from.