First Night in Delhi

by Amy

Sometimes the most pressing question you have to ask yourself is: What kind of insomnia do I want to have? Do I want to lie still and quiet hoping to trick sleep into eventually taking me, or do I want to succumb fully to the nagging relentless wakefulness and creep into a dingy bathroom to sit on a floor, turn on a completely inadequate and ancient flourescent light and be awake in India? Do I want to be awake at 5:18am in New Delhi after not having slept for two days? That’s the real question. Except that’s not precisely the real question because this reality that I’m experiencing probably isn’t best characterized as Awake as it is Not Unconscious.

In an attempt to not wake my traveling companion, before I retreated to the discomfort of the humid bathroom, I tried to prove to myself that I was merely restless and could be one of those people who sits at a window, achieves some manner of peaceful thought and goes back to bed. What I did instead was to hallucinate at the window that men in black capes were conspiring on a balcony across the street, moving in sillouhettes and shadows among clothes lines and ill-fated construction projects. This isn’t the reality of the Awake, but that of the Not Unconscious. It’s become mine as a result of two sleepless and somewhat anxiety-ridden nights in the states followed by a 13 hour overnight flight into Delhi, an Ambien-induced zombie march to a hotel in Karol Bagh, a meal of plane rice and naan in our room and finally trying to pass out in our clothes to outsmart any malarial mosquitoes that might be lurking. So far, Delhi has been nothing but dust and extreme poverty and smoke.

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