15 January 2016

Delhi, Delhi, Delhi

After another too-long, kind of uncomfortable bus ride, we got to Delhi. The crowds at the start of the bus irritated me - the shoving, the nastiness. But then the woman next to us insisted I eat some of her peanuts, pouring a massive amount into my hands. That’s India. You want to give up because it’s so horrible and then something wonderful happens.

We got off and walked down the road and almost died, because that’s what happens any time you walk down any road in India. Arun made sure I didn’t get run over (big job!).

His friend Harish met us on the train platform and insisted on carrying my bag. Sure. Thank you very much. I was so tired. I was grateful.

We arrived exhausted to Meenal’s nice condo in Aerocity. Meenal served us snacks and lemongrass chai. They discussed train tickets, ultrarunning, Delhi. After they left, I had dinner with Meenal and her husband and their housekeeper.

Meenal was Arun’s friend, a newbie ultrarunner, who graciously offered to host me. She fed me, took me running, and we got to talk about running. Super awesome.

Then, Meenal tried to help me buy train tickets. We finally determined that it was because I didn’t have an Indian credit card. They are worried about terrorism, Meenal theorized. Meenal said we should go to sleep and try to figure stuff out in the morning when the system kept failing.

We woke up around 7ish and then went for a run. Meenal was doing a tempo run in a park. I joined her for the warmup but decided it was too fast and too much for my foot. After the warmup (which was a faster pace than I’ve run lately since my injury), I ran in the opposite direction as Meenal (so I could see her more) at a slower pace. But after 40 minutes, I realized the damage was already done. Probably that coupled with carrying a heavy pack all day the day before. I walked for 10 or 15 minutes, felt fine, and began running again rather slowly. No pain. (However, afterwards, I realized I had some unpleasant ankle swelling. Back went on the ankle brace, and no running for a week! Cherie’s orders!)

After a shower and breakfast and some lemon tea, Meenal helped me figure out the train tickets. I ended up buying two flights (Varansi-Mumbai and Mumbia-Bangalore) and she purchased the tickets; I gave her cash later. Unfortunately, I’m $#5 on the waitlist, but everyone assures me I’ll almost definitely get on. And if not….?

Then, she dropped me off at the metro. I took it to meet Kieren, an ultrarunner who was a friend of a friend. He took me to Old Delhi. We got parathas in the Old CIty at some chaotic spot; the food was good and the experience was fun. Then we went to a horrifyingly sweet place, where we got this weird thing that was basically fried dough dipped and soaked in sugar. Picture the sweetest donut you’ve ever had in your life.

We went to the Gandhi Memorial and Kieren told me that not everyone worships Gandhi and some of his teachers were vocal about criticizing him. I told him all I learned by watching the Gandhi movie. We went to a giant mosque, where I was charged, but Kieren wasn’t (because he’s Indian and I’m a foreigner) and they made both of us cover up with these hideous dresses (Kieren was wearing shorts and I guess my clothes were too tight). When we left, some guy claimed he was watching our shoes and demanded 100 rupees for each of us. Kieren gave him ten. Then we walked around, went to some markets, got some tea, and just chatted. He answered a lot of my questions about India, and showed me a different side of India - with his perspective and safety.

After, I took the metro back towards Meenal’s. She told me an autorickshaw should cost 20 rupees, “but for you, they’ll probably charge 30.” They tried to charge 100. After multiple discussions, I finally found one who would charge me “only” 30. Frustrating. But that’s just how India is with pricing.

I practiced yoga for the first time on my trip and it felt wonderful. Then Meenal had an ultrarunner friend of hers, Ragat, come over. He puts on some pretty epic looking ultras close to the Pakistan border; he showed me some videos and blew me away.

Then Meenal and I chatted some more, ate dinner, and went to bed shortly after.

And up early for the train to Amritsar!!!!

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