I'm still digesting Delhi, and in just a few minutes I'm about to walk to Connaught Place, to give me more to digest. Quickly, though, some notes from the cab ride from the airport to the hotel yesterday:
- Kudos to Lonely Planet, directing me to (a) the money-changing booth at the airport and (b) the pre-paid taxi booth. The Thomas Cook just outside baggage claim charged no commission on the exchange--except they kept a few rupees as a "fee". (The calculation was pretty straightforward: I bought Rs 6,340, and they kept 340.) There was a similar "rounding" issue at the pre-paid taxi booth, where I got voucher to get to my hotel for Rs 250—except that the money-changer gave me no bill smaller than Rs 100, so really my taxi was Rs 300. Duke's orientation letter said taxis cost Rs 1000-2000. Maybe they should have read Lonely Planet, too.
- Drivers in Delhi have what I may charitably describe as a liberated attitude toward traffic laws. Strangely, I felt totally relaxed about the driving for the entire 20-minute trip. So, apparently, did the scooters, auto-rickshaws, horses, pedestrians, bicyclists, lorry drivers, and stray dogs that my driver completely failed to hit. Since everyone behaves the same way, everyone knows what to expect, so the free-for-all just works. Also, not having seat belts (or, for that matter, any other visible safety equipment) probably makes everyone more vigilant on the roads.
- This morning's Times of India headline gave me an immediate perspective shift: "As ratings plunge, Obama gets tough on outsourcing," reporting on the State of the Union address. As an American reading the speech, I scarcely paid attention when he said "it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the USA." Indians, however, sat up and heard very clearly the paragraph that followed. They apparently dismissed it, too, with the India Times writing, "As has now become the norm, the President invoked the growth of China and India to gee up the home constituency on the economic front, where a continuing slow-down and job loss has bedeviled his first year in office."
- I have not yet died from eating or drinking anything. I think I may have overestimated the risk; both dinner last night and breakfast this morning seem to have done nothing more to me than eating food with a similar amount of oil and spice would have done back home. This does not mean I'm going to go swim in the Ganges; but I do feel a lot more relaxed about it having been here a full day.
Time now to finally leave the hotel for a bit. More photos later today.
 I had hoped to watch it live, but my 8-hour delay in London meant I was in the air somewhere between Baku and Kabul during the speech.