North India

First encounter with India

We left gloomy London and flew to New Delhi, India, with the Russian airline Aeroflot.  Back then, there were no formal relations between Russia and Israel, nor between India and Israel; a certain uneasiness was a sure thing.  The overnight stop in Tashkent, nowadays Uzbekistan’s capital city, was surreal.  A security guard was sitting outside our hotel room. 

Upon landing at New Delhi Airport, I was pale and confused.  I remember wearing a white shirt; my hair was long.  I looked around, trying to figure the lay of the ground, and I guess my dazed state of mind was visible.  By my side, Dalit was passively waiting.  Her radiant, gorgeous looking petite figure was like a bomb crater amid the small terminal.  Her dark blue Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes would make you pause.  A Sikh gentleman, I guess an official, approached us and gently escorted us through the terminal, the customs check, and out to the street.  I felt like an angel held our hands.  Those first moments in India are curved in my memory, and maybe that’s why I keep visiting.  Once we were out of the terminal, the shock of the initial encounter with India was unavoidable.  Three-wheeled taxi drivers, smiling mob, the chaos, the colors, the sounds, the dirt, and of course the cows – all wanted a piece of us.  Welcome to India, I thought.

We found our way to the New Delhi Market, got situated, and started our venture.  The hotel receptionist immediately asked if we have a Whisky bottle, a pack of cigarettes, or a camera to sell.  In those days, these were hard commodities to obtain in India.  We had it all prepared and ready.  A couple of days later, after roaming the streets and encountering many more cows, Dalit announced, “I want to go home, I can not take it.”  I looked at her; I understood what she was dealing with as she was not alone and said, “Sorry, my dear, I paid for your ticket.  I have no money to send you back.  You are staying here with me!”  What became clear is that we needed to get out of the big metropolitan’s hectic vibe and start our journey up to the Himalayas, and so we did.  The sensation of tasting the big Indian city vibe, and wanting to get out to the mountains and nature soon after arrival, had been persistent in all my visits ever since.