Dispatches from Delhi: Report 1

My first day in Delhi, and it was all I could do to not pass out.

24 hours of sleepless transit left me pretty wasted when I touched down, but I knew that falling asleep at 7 a.m. local time would only create a world of hurt for my biological clock, so I tried my level best to reset my circadian rhythms in a bunch of different ways. First, as soon as I reached my grandmother’s house, I figured I’d work out for about an hour, and that actually got my endorphins flowing, which pretty much got me through most of the day. But that soon wore off, so I decided to spend the greater part of the day with my cousins, one who lives in Rajouri Garden where I’m living right now, and the other who lives in Gurgaon with her husband. I have plenty of time for recreation in the next few days since training doesn’t begin at New Era until the 18th.

Now, getting around by car in India is kind of like trying to navigate choppy waters among a gang of bucking sharks. If you think people in New York or LA drive like crazy people, you have obviously never been near Delhi streets. But it’s not too bad, because this always gives me ample time to listen to music or nap or do any of a handful things in transit while my grandmother’s driver takes the wheel, because it takes anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to get anywhere important.

It was totally worth it though. Both visits were awesome because each cousin did what all women in my family generally do when they see me: they treated me like an emaciated refugee and kept feeding me delicious food until my stomach almost exploded.

I reiterate, awesome. But I digress.

When it came for me to return home, it was 5 p.m. and I was near delirium due to sleep deprivation. So to avoid surrendering myself to a half-dead stupor for a few hours and spending the whole night awake, I pillaged my grandmother’s library for all the books I hadn’t yet read, grabbing all sorts of great literary gems, counting Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Plato’s Republic, and Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink among the nearly 20 texts I found. So I figured I’d try my best to fight off sleep starting with Plato.

I suppose the craziest thing about being back in India is the fact that nothing about it feels crazy at all. When I walked outside and felt my skin break into a sweat like I was in a kiln, I didn’t flinch. When I came to my grandmother’s house and unpacked and hugged the servants whom I have known since I was a child, I didn’t think of the notion of slavery, just people who had been paid to work for my family for decades, who were practically family themselves. When I looked outside my window and I saw beautiful homes right next to abject poverty, people of all ages living in squalor on the streets, there wasn’t a hint of shock like most Westerners would experience from the same view.

I guess I’m used to it, but my lack of reaction isn’t because I’m heartless. It’s because here, income inequality isn’t as subversive as it is in the States. I have seen it at a tender age. I haven’t examined the significance of this yet in great detail, but I know it’s important. More on that later.

With no disrespect to Plato, reading Greek philosophy is a great way to exhaust the mind. So about 40 pages into it, I passed out for a night of staring at my eyelids.

Arjun Chopra

Arjun Chopra

Arjun Chopra is a senior at Arizona State University majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Arjun will be spending his summer interning at New Era Public School in New Delhi, India. He will be documenting his experiences in the series "Dispatches from Delhi" as a contributing author for Superstition Review. After graduation he hopes to continue his education through an M.F.A. Program.
Arjun Chopra

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