The hobby of backpacking is slowly picking up in India. And so are relatively cheap and fancy hostels across India. All major tourist destinations in India have at least five different hostels travellers can choose from. One of them is Zostel – which claims to be India’s first branded chain of Hostels. I stayed for a month in the capital of India, New Delhi, in one of these hostels. No, it wasn’t Zostel. I won’t reveal the name. Read on to find out why.
My reason for visiting Delhi was an interesting one as well. You’d think that considering the fact that I was staying in a ‘backpacker’s hostel’ I would ideally be travelling, right?
Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. I was actually interning in an online newspaper called The Citizen. They are super nice people and if you want to explore Delhi, then you should definitely intern with them. Now in this one month at this hostel, which was somewhat wonderful, I learnt some really important things.
1) You lose out on a lot of things if you’re an introvert.
The whole point of staying at one of these hostels is to blend in with the place and with the people who come there. You get to converse with so many interesting people and the experience is truly surreal. I met a really old french man, probably in his mid 70’s named ‘Alex’ who was travelling throughout south Asia with his bike.
He stayed at the same dorm as I did and was waiting for his Pakistan Visa application to get approved, which unfortunately did not happen. He was there for over a month and had not left the last time I heard from him. However, he did tell me that he planned on getting his motorbike shipped to Dubai, and I helped him in a few calculations, because the packers and movers, in typical Delhi fashion, were trying to con him.
I also met this lady from Canada who fell in love with a guy from Afghanistan and they planned on getting married in India. I don’t; really know if they ended up getting married, but if they did, best of luck and happy married life to them.
The point I am trying to make is that you really need to let go of your fear and everything else that comes along with being an introvert and try and blend in as much as possible.
2) Life is full of surprises (especially, living in hostels).
One fine night, the guy sleeping on the bed next to me woke me up and asked whether I wanted to snort crack cocaine. I didn’t and wasn’t forced either. (This is why I won’t reveal the name.)
I also walked into a South Korean guy pooping one night. He gave me a very creepy smile for some reason. I haven’t seen the guy since.
The hostel was also kind enough and organised these small excursions, which was nice. I remember we had all gone to the gurudwara one night. And it was even more exciting to have people of other countries coming along.
3) India and Indians aren’t as bad/ filthy as you think.
The popular opinion is that Indian’s are filthier than people from other European countries. Or east asian countries. I disagree. Barring a few of them, all the other occupants were equally filthy when it came to basic hygiene.
And it’s not only about hygiene. I also spoke to each one of them, asking how their trip was so far. Most of them praised India. And not only for the diversity, but became of the hospitality. There was this one lady from Boston who was teaching in Kyrgyzstan and she said that she found it really amazing that people was so inquisitive and wanted to help her in every possible way.
Yes, all of them pointed to the fact that they had to be conscious of their clothing and I completely agree with them. But amidst all the negatives, there were certainly positives that everyone should be able to relate to.
4) Help others in need.
People who come to visit India ideally have prepared their itinerary either by looking up on websites or by hearing about places of interest from friends/ family members who have come to India before them. Either way, you probably know way more about the area than they do and they would love to get to know India from and Indian’s perspective.
Everyday, at the breakfast table, we had this practice of sitting with a map and discussing all the places of Interest.
And trust me, they loved it when they found out that we told them about places they could not find on the internet.
Made a short film about the time I explored the streets of Delhi. Check it out here.