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Agence Future Logo 5.2: Arrival from Pakistan


the streets of Old Delhi

We travelled 67 kilometer from the Pakistani educational centre of Lahore to the Indian Sikh centre of Amritsar. We had left at sunrise and arrived at the border more than an hour before it would open, so spent some time loitering around the amazingly adorned trucks standing by the roadside. As usual the border crossing went fluently with lots of smiles about our bikes from the men and women working on both sides of the frontier. After leaving the busy roads out of Lahore, the ride was relatively quite. It's not surprising of course since no Indians or Pakistani's are allowed to cross the border with tension between the two countries having risen again. The few bikes and three-wheeled motorised rickshaws that passed us constituted local traffic, piloted mostly by men in beards and colourful turbans.

We arrived at the Golden Temple in Amritsar in the early afternoon and took one of the free rooms offered in this Sikh pilgrimage centre. Amritsar was a good introduction to the sights and sounds of India. It is just as chaotic as any other mid-sized Indian town but the Sikhs are easy going and made our arrival quite relaxed. Two days later we were on the train to Delhi. All the horror stories we had heard about trains in India had been spooking in our minds and we were well early to check in our bikes. With the help of a station porter we went through all the formalities of forms and tags for the Street Machines and before we knew it we were sitting comfortably in an air conditioned train carriage eating vegetarian breakfast from a small plastic tray.

From New Delhi train station we cycled 27 kilometres to the out-skirts of town, near the international airport where we would enjoy the hospitality of a Belgian family. The first 500 meters of the ride were thoroughly impressive. We had to find our way through a mass of cycle rickshaws and delivery trucks that were clogging up the narrow streets of Old Delhi. Fortunately the larger in-roads with faster traffic that we needed to take after that, all had three lanes of which one was mainly used by two-wheelers.

During our time in the Indian capital we visited the centre of town and some of the market neighbourhoods and got acquainted with these new surroundings. The Belgian embassy helped us with orientation, suggesting interview contacts for the capital as well as some of the more remote areas we would visit later. We conducted a few interviews: one with an business man who is exporting Indian IT expertise to Belgium and the Netherlands and one with the top notch executive of an office space leasing enterprise that purports to adhere to the idea of sustainable management. A third interview took place with a Hindutva council man who presented his ideas on Indian society in an undeniably paternalistic manner to say the least. Our introduction to the state of India well underway, we left for the South of the country in the second week of April.

Read more on Agence Future's adventures in India:

<< 5.1 Overview | Index | 5.3: Trivandrum >>

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Last changed: May 20, 2012