We arrived in Delhi, got our bags, changed money and were met by our driver Jose. The airport was large and clean and mostly empty in the middle of the night. Jose greeted us with flowers and with bottled water and a bus. Delhi greeted us with fog...lots of it. The fog photographed like snow. Everyone had told me I would notice the change in odor when I got to India. It smelled like fog...I don't know how to describe it. I remember in my childhood a dense fog that had an odor...somewhere between acrid and dryer sheets. I know that sounds odd... But that's it. We were mobbed outside the airport by men aggressively offering (insisting) to handle our luggage and then working for tips. Unfortunately as tourists we had just changed money and had no tip-sized denominations. One man literally overtook me and one of my bags-aggressive salespeople!
The roads were mostly quiet in the wee hours of the morning. We drove through winding main roads beside delivery trucks, past military establishments, past shuttered stalls in local markets, past piles of rubble-as I they sweep the streets into piles every quarter mile or so. The air was white with fog and in the bright streetlights, the trees were white with dust. Even at this hour (now about 2:30 am local time)' the vehicles on the road "chatted" with various horn beeps. I noticed some sidewalks overtaken by makeshift and not-so-makeshift tents and shacks, typically clustered in small communities, sometimes with a fire or a sales stall outside. Once in a while we would pass a fire with folks huddled around it.
It was good to arrive at our home for the coming days, the New Tulip Inn. Clean, chilly, with comfortable beds and pillows, sleep called. But just for three hours...because day one was just a short sunrise away.