I’m standing in the heart of Old Delhi and people are everywhere. No really, like everywhere.
The street corner I’m currently occupying has to be the most densely populated street corner on the face of the earth. It’s complete chaos. Vendors are selling. Prayers are blaring. Vehicles are zipping. Everybody is yelling.
But it’s completely chaotic in a totally harmonious way. Just Mother India doing Her thing. I dig it.
And here I am, a white-skinned, blue-eyed dot with his map out, camera around his neck, and tennis shoes on. In this scenario, let’s just call me “bait with a backpack.” Or as we’d say in college, I’m that guy. And that guy has 25 tuk-tuk drivers following every tennis-shoed move of his. Seriously, I’d be stalking me too.
But the thing is, I like to walk and don’t think I need a ride. The spots I’m hitting up I’ve been told are right across the street. A street that I take two steps into and quickly realize that 1) I value my life, and 2) I definitely need a guide to part the Indian seas. Tuk-tuk!
My driver’s name is Raksha. Raksha is 21 years young, smooth, and interested. You are from USA? “Yep,” I respond. Let me guess, California? I chuckle, because we’re clearly all from California, right? “Nope, Missouri is home.” Raksha doesn’t understand. “Middle of country,” I add. Raksha nods.
As we cruise through the chaos, I GoPro the ride. Raksha is a master on three wheels, avoiding one wreck after another all while maintaining our speed. He’s like Dale Earnhardt on a rickshaw. He knows his stuff too, building or temple, Raksha has the scoop.
After a 5-minute ride, we reach the destination – the Old Delhi spice market, the biggest wholesale spice market in all of Asia. Raksha parks to let me explore. The spices are so pure and strong that they move me to sneezing… literally.
“Now I show you best view in city, this way!”
(I kind of wanted to enjoy the spicy goodness a bit longer, but what the hell, On with the view!).
So I trail Raksha close behind. As he passes the last vendor, a boy no more than 11, they exchange sly smiles. A moment later, when I pass the boy, he shakes his head and gives me a very direct cut-throat gesture. Boy do I not get Indian humor. I smile back as if I get his joke and he resumes his business.
Within a minute or so, the crowds have all but disappeared, as Raksha and I turn left down a sunless alley, and then right towards a stone stairwell. Best view in city, this way! Again, I continue to follow.
One flight of steps… Raksha points at something rather insignificant.
Two flights of steps…. Raksha is running low on words.
Two-and-a-half flights of steps…. the good energy has drastically simmered and Raksha can no longer look me in the eye.
Three flights of ste…. THE BOY!
“I’m ready to go now, Raksha,” I command.
“You can trust. View at very top, the best!”
“Nope, I’m good. I’ll see you in the market,” and I quickly descend the vicinity.
(Word to the wise: when a guy’s first response mentions trust and you haven’t accused him of anything, he just told on himself. And if it also happens to be in an abandoned building without a soul in sight in one of the most populated cities in the world, get the hell out of there.)
A little bit of logic can be a whole lot of divine.
What lied atop those stairs, I’ll never know for sure, but it certainly wasn’t a view. What I do know is if we keep listening and watch the energy, omens, signs, clues, Youniversal guidance, guardian angels, divine U-turns, they exist to assist.
Some have wings and a halo, or show up as a license plate or flat tire, sometimes they’re children… selling turmeric and cinnamon on an Old Delhi street corner.
To see some of my photos from India, head over to my Instagram page.