Image by cleopatra69 via Flickr The doors to India were many: continual flights and airport waits, customs lines, and sleep deprivation. It took two days of travel through invisible time lines to reach the smudgy netherworld of New Delhi at 3 in the morning.
Many people were out on the streets, like it was the most natural thing to be up and about at that time of night. I figured with a population of eight and a half million, Delhi was a city that never slept.
The air was filled with a scent of burning cow dung laced with incense. As Mark, Marco and I wheeled two big carts of luggage and video equipment – 900 pounds of it – a cavalcade of cabbies and street urchins who wanted to assist with our bags accosted us.
“I help you!”
“No, I help you!”
“Thanks anyway,” we told them as we rolled the massive carts ourselves toward our waiting bus.
Two dark-eyed, dirty-faced boys began to fight each other, trying to commandeer our carts.
“No, thank you,” Mark said with a finality that scattered the boys, sending them back to the airport for other potential work.
The other members of our tour group were hauled away on a bus. A second bus for the video crew and our baggage awaited us. We stowed our belongings aboard, and then climbed on. The bus belched forward. I settled back into my seat, too tired to dwell on the honor of having an entire bus to the three of us plus the driver and his assistant.
The bus zoomed along, joining a highway with heavy traffic. Through the smeared bus windows, we saw cyclists weaving in and out of thick traffic. The handmade steel-framed bikes were a far cry from our neon hybrid-metal ones.
As we slowed to a crawl, I wondered at the practicality of driving to a hotel an hour away for two hours of sleep, after which we would turn around and then return to the airport.
You can find the story in its entirety at Mountain Bike Tales.