Don’t even know where to begin. I’m sitting in the living room of my hostel and it’s 30 degrees and my train to Agra leaves in a couple of hours, and I’m gunna have to go get a tuk tuk to the station because it’s impossible to walk anywhere in this city.
I arrived at 6.30am with Dave, and the smell of incense met us off the plane. The 2nd of March in India is Holi, and it was evident from the off; the security staff and air hostesses and the pilots and everybody was covered in powdered paint of every colour. Forgive me for not being overly articulate while recounting this, I’m hungover as hell and writing is a monstrous effort, but I’m determined to document what’s gone on.
Everybody bid us Happy Holi, it was beautiful. Joyous, stupendous. Dave had a different hostel booked to me, and we parted ways at the airport. He made friends with some Indian dudes who whisked him away, I got a cab with a smiley man with a round face. He chatted to me, though we couldn’t understand each much too well. He stopped at a market and bought paint and daubed it on my forehead in the car, which made me deliriously happy. Everything happened so fast on the first day – I don’t know what I expected, but there was absolutely no buffer or gentle induction. Airport, taxi, market, paint, Holi, Holi, Holi.
I got to the hostel around 9am, and sat down to wait until check in at 2 in the afternoon. And then after 5 seconds three American girls sat beside me and struck up conversation; their names were Emma, Caitlyn and Mariya. A Spanish dude called Fran later joined us. They told me the hostel was selling tickets to a music festival that day for Holi. So I bought one, and changed into white clothing. At 9.30am it was time to start the party, apparently. Everybody headed up to the rooftop in the beaming morning sun and rubbed mustard oil on their skin to help the paint wash out later on, and then music started, live drums, paint was thrown, water hurled around, everybody dancing, and a strange green drink was given out.
Before we go further: I HAD NOT SLEPT. I HAD NOT HAD A JOT OF SLEEP. IT WAS 10AM ON A ROOFTOP IN DELHI AND I HAD WOKEN UP THE DAY BEFORE IN BERLIN AND TRAVELLED VIA FINLAND AND IT IS SO DISORIENTATING AND I’M STILL NOT QUITE OVER IT, IT IS THE STRANGEST FEELING EVER, WHAT THE HELL.
And yeah so the green drink turned out to be Bhang, which is like a coconut smoothie infused with marijuana. I knew this, sure, but I assumed it would be ‘marijuana infused’ like so many drinks claim to be, like in the UK you buy a ganja energy drink and it does literally nothing but tastes like grass clippings. But: no. This shit was heavy, and I am a moron. I drank a cup and a half, and learned the next day that most people had half a cup max. We partied on the roof and I got smeared in ten thousand colours, beautiful beautiful, and then I started to feel woozy and gloopy and couldn’t make chat or concentrate. I assumed this was the jet lag fucking me up, and strained to stay cheery and sociable. But my god.
Christ I’m hungover. This is awful writing. I am so sorry but it hurts to look at the screen right now. Anyway.
We got a coach to the festival, and I sat beside a girl called Sarah, failed spectacularly at maintaining a socially acceptable level of conversation, so just gave up and sat there with my eyes closed, occasionally apologising for being so awful and boring.
The festival was called Moo or something, I dunno, the whole day is a blur after that bastard drink. I headed in with my new colourful homies and we floated around the four different stages, danced and just generally were outrageously stoned. It turns out it wasn’t only me; next day I asked around and found out that every single person in the hostel was off their tits, and everybody was, due to weed paranoia, afraid to admit it. It was an absolute slog. No sleep, blasting music, 32 degree heat, and a pint of weed tea chugged. The bar was free so I rinsed it, hoping vaguely it might sort me out. It did not.
Blackout drunk, I got the coach back to the hostel at 5pm when everyone else headed off, and I’d spent enough time stumbling around the festivities wondering what the hell was going on. Fell asleep on the coach. Don’t remember checking in or showering or anything. What an absolute mess of a first day. Just… just… I don’t know. I’m still overwhelmed. Imagine flying to the far side of the world and within literally 3 hours of touching down being caked in paint and baked as fuck at some random festival called Moo. It was heavy. I didn’t eat all day because I forgot. Just… FUCK.
Note how I’ve not mentioned a single aspect of Indian culture or Delhi or the environment. This is because description requires actual effort, whereas recounting this sorry tale is easy because I can just vomit words up in rough order and convey the events. I’ll try to write something a little prettier later this week, and actually be a good traveller and embrace culture and whatnot. But for now, just…. FUUUUCK.