A further explanation of why Delhi is a complete mind-fuck. We are currently in Srinagar, Kashmir staying on a houseboat on a lake–which is very beautiful–we’ve been here 2 nights and 3 days. Our first night here was a series of paranoid delusions based on the after affects of Delhi, some info we read in a guidebook and our uncertainty about where we were, and if the people who brought us here were really out to get us. It got so bad we freaked out poor Ryan over Skype.
That is what Delhi does to you. It’s a lovely city with lots of amazing people and sites to see but if you’re a lone tourist without a reliable native guide or in a tour group–you are a goldfish in a piranha tank.
We are sharing the houseboat with some tourists from Greece (Magda & Sotos) and they put it perfectly: Delhi does something to your head where you stop trusting anyone and everyone and you can’t even think straight.
So we ended up in Srinagar, Kashmir after a series of unfortunate auto-rickshaw drivers–which I’ve already gone off about. Basically a man who worked at the train station sent us to the tourist office to get a paper train ticket. Well, every other block in Delhi is a ‘tourist office’ waiting to scam you but he gave us specific instructions, found us an auto rickshaw driver who was honest (or so it seemed) and sent us on our way. Now we arrived very close to the designated location in block N and are still unsure whether he sent us to the wrong place or the random guy who hopped in the rickshaw with our driver pointed us towards the wrong office but whatever happened/however it happened at this point is of no consequence. We were still on the wait list for the train to Dharamasala and wanted to get out of Delhi ASAP but knew that we couldn’t just hop on a train that day. So we decided to get on a plane to Sringar and stay on a houseboat.
Now we both read guidebooks and decided not to go to Kashmir originally because of the former troubles but at the time we weren’t thinking clearly–all we knew is that we needed to leave Delhi and flying seemed like a good way to do it quickly.
Anyhow, after we get off the plane and see an extremely heavy military presence (much more that anywhere I’ve ever been) we remembered why we had originally opted for not visiting. We talk to the tourist guide and he over-explains how all the travel bans have been lifted which of course makes us even more nervous.
We then spent time talking with the travel guy about what we were doing and how we were going to do it and he said he’d book it all for us. We knew we were already in trouble with the trains because it is holiday time and might have to seriously change our plans. And frankly we thought that it would be nice–the ease of not having the same shit happen all over again with everyone giving us the run around about our travel plans/tickets everywhere we go. It cost more than we wanted to spend but we had still saved enough to cover the costs which included tours and drivers in some areas and frankly were so relieved at the thought of not to have to worry about it that we probably should have slept on it or negotiated better.
We get to the houseboat and it is shabby sheik and not at all what we expected. And it’s freezing. It has some serious charm but we were already having buyers remorse.
It’s hard for me to describe how the disappointment and fear turned into a downward spiral of paranoid delusions but I’m going to try.