The land of contrasts – part 3

10 – The family

„Och! Look! The sky got cloudy! What a lovely whether! Let’s go to the beach!” – weird I though. I always considered the perfect weather for the beach was the sunny one. As it occurred – not in India. If it is cloudy just for a second everybody gets excited, takes towels, dinghies and goes sunbathing. I realized soon why – the sun is just unbearable. At least in Goa, where I had a short break during my travel.

After the crazy wedding I joined the family of my friend, who on a daily basis lives in Poland, but visits his relatives from Mumbai whenever possible. He asked if I would like to join them during their holidays in Goa – there was no doubt I just loved the idea!

It was amazing. They treated me almost as a member of their family! We had a beautiful time full of sun, palm trees, swimming pools and playing with the children. I tried out playing cricket and I was bitten by a crab! It was also a time full of disputes about Indian and Polish cultures while we were eating spicy goan dishes! I just loved it and probably I got a lot of extra kilos!

All those things, however, wouldn’t be half as beautiful if weren’t for Schelaco’s family! Schel’s Mum was just an angel, who even borrowed me some of her clothes when I needed it. Dad, the head of the family, was rather silent, however if he spoke the whole family obeyed. Sometimes he surprised us with his wonderful sense of humour. Melroy, Schel’s brother occured to be the one that new a lot of interesting facts about India, its politics and social issues. I learnt a lot from his experience. And the children… I just loved them!

It was no surprise than, when I was leaving it was hard to say goodbye to my new family far away from Poland. I will really miss them all!

11 – Business is business

„Tip, madam, tip!”. Are you joking me?? First of all, my taxi driver was late, so late that I was almost late to the airport. Secondly, I have already paid in the hotel and had no money left in my wallet…

Unfortunately, the driver claims were loud and persistent. The louder he demanded his tip the higher rose my frustration. I tried rationalizing – I know the culture is different, the people here and used to the tourist giving them tips for nothing and I am European – it is almost as I had written on my head „She is rich, just rip her off”. I decided to patiently get out of the cab, take my things and go. It was hard to explain him the situation, especially since he did not speak English at all. I was walking to the airport for check in listening to his screams – not a pleasant memory to be honest.

12 – Shopping

I was confused with all those colours, patterns and ornaments. I went to the shop with clothes and materials only to get away from the sun and heat on the streets. The shop was nice, it did not resembled the bazar couple of streets downtown. The airconditioning was on and that was most important for me. I decided I will buy here a scarf and prolong my stay as long as possible only to cool down my tired senses.

The gentlemen offered that they would teach me the natural methods of coloring fabrics. I did not protest and played around with paints for a while, then we had some tea and the business starter. All in all I bought three scarves for my friends and family and I was just about to leave when the owner proposed: „Maybe you would like to try on one of our sarees? No buying, just for fun”. Wow! I always liked those sarees, so beautiful. Every woman looks just gorgeous in saree, so I just could not resist. I tried one on and it suited me perfectly. „Well, maybe I should by one… I was soon going to attend the wedding in Goa..” – I started considering the options. However, I decided to be sensible and look for saree in Delhi with my friends – „It will surely be cheaper and there will be more choices”.



I was so wrong! Old Delhi was packed with saree shops but the majority of them was either disgusting or too expensive. The materials were also far from Jaipur quality and I soon realized I will just wear the dress instead of saree. However shopping was fun. We explored all the shops, magically opening the side doors for us, extra rooms full and hidden backrooms. We had fun with sellers pretending to be women to show us how good the saree looked while put on! I did not buy anything but it was just worth looking for!

13 – Not fair

We were sitting in the bar. Beer. Lots of beer. A bit of chilli paneer – even if you ask for not a spicy one, it is so spicy that leaves you out of breath after one bite. So good! I was getting more and more accustomed to Indian flavours. All it was really lovely – the music, people, food. We spoke a bit about Poland, a bit about India and photography. Finally our colleague decided to pay a bill and walk us home. A real gentleman – I thought. After couple of minutes later I realized something was wrong… Our host was vividly discussing something with the waiter. The waiter was shrugging his arms and nodding his head.

„They do not accept Indian credit cards. How come I cannot pay by card in my own country?” – our friend said. We started to comfort him, that it was not a problem, we had cash, nothing bad indeed happened…

„It is not about that” – he said – „I know we can pay cash, but how come I cannot use the card issued by Indian bank in India? It is just ridiculous. I work hard. I earn my money. This is my country for God sake!”

14 – Trains

It was my first day in Delhi. I was hardly coping with new reality. Crowd, noise, smell, and somehow I needed to get to the main railway station and find the proper train… I thought that I would just catch a rickshaw from of the hotel and that would be it. Unfortunately, even rickshaws in New Delhi sometimes get stuck in traffic jams. As it occurred there was a road accident nearby and the half of my district was just paralyzed. I had no other option but to walk with my crazy, heavy backpack the whole way down to the railway station. „It can’t be so far…” – I thought. But it was! Especially with millions of people trying to be faster than me.

When I got to the station I was a bit overwhelmed with the number of people lying on the floor, sleeping next to the entrance, with stray dogs wandering around. Somehow I got the there right on time. Couple of nice people, few question and the beloved train was standing and waiting to take passengers onboard.

Ten minutes, twenty minutes… half an hour passed and nothing happened. One hour! My co passenger did not seem to be worried, but I was, so I decided to ask if I am in the right train anyway. „Sure! It is a right train. Just it is a train in India. It will always be late.”. Okey! I decided to relax and started to make friends. Till the end of the ride I knew almost everyone in car: the friendly old couple travelling for funeral, the elderly man with his granddaughter going to the hospital in Varanasi, nice marriage from Russia! The time passed by so quickly – I was fed, told a lots of interesting stories, I had a drink with Russian guy who as it occurred spoke Polish a bit as well. If you asked me – trains rule!

Author: Joanna Zubkow

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