India, Inside My Head

Sleepless in India – It’s Real Now

22 Comments 20 March 2014


The hectic streets of Delhi

It’s 4:11 am and I’m awake. This wouldn’t be horrible except I went to bed at 1 am. Jetlag is something that comes with traveling, yet I have to believe this is more than jetlag, it’s anxiety and nerves. As the minutes of darkness roll on, I gradually hear the streets become filled with noise – stray dogs fighting, the distant din of constant horns, people walking in the alley below, kids screaming, and finally around 5 am I hear the call to prayers.

I landed in Delhi yesterday, a place I’ve been before 6 years prior. I’ve come back to India to do the Rickshaw Run in April and I’m experiencing a little India culture shock. Ideas like the Rickshaw Run always seems great back in the familiarity of your own culture or home. In fact I still remember the day when I went to Charlie and said “I think I’m ready to take on another adventure.” Her face lit up and we started planning the Rickshaw Run.

India traffic

Traffic in India – imagine me driving my rickshaw in this!

But now I’m here in India, and I find myself staring at these foreign looking rickshaws among the insane traffic trying to picture myself in it. Not just in it, but DRIVING it. The only picture that comes to mind is a terrified white woman trying to make her way through cows, street vendors, commuters, and trucks. I imagine being swallowed up by the sounds of the horns and wonder where we will put all of our stuff and keep it remotely safe. I hate doubt, but I’m seriously doubting my ability to do this.

But then I remember that I’m not alone in this quest – I have a partner in crime, Charlie. Charlie is much braver than me, and I have to believe together we’ll make a good team. We have had a lot of practice these last 3 years at pumping each other up through good times and bad, being a shoulder to lean on over skype, or simply listening to what’s happening in our unconventional nomadic worlds.

A Girl Named Charlie

Sometimes I look at this woman 9 years younger than me who is in my face digitally or physically always telling me “You got this. You got this.” and wonder how our paths ever crossed. This is a relatively new friendship that feels much older than it is. But it’s a friendship that is incredibly important to me.

Charlie Grosso

We met at a book reading for the Art of Non-Conformity in New York City 4 years ago. The subject couldn’t have been more perfect for 2 women rattling around in the world, living unconventionally, and trying to shake up the world with different ideas around travel, career, and art. Charlie is a professional photographer (yes, the real thing – not an amateur like me!) who also runs an unconventional pop-up gallery in New York City. Charlie is one of my few friends who always seems to be able to accomplish more than I think is possible, making it seem like there are more than 24 hours in a day. Yet she has also figured out how to relax and watch out for her own mental well-being – something I often neglect. Truth be told – I look up to this woman 9 years younger than me.

As of late, you’ll find us frequently laughing – a nervous laughter – about our upcoming adventure, which marches closer every day now since we’ve arrived in India. We are both seasoned travelers and know the Rickshaw Run will be full of unplanned good and bad – but of course there is that element as it gets closer it gets more real. We aren’t new to adventure – we both completed the Mongol Rally. However unlike the Mongol Rally when I did that with a team of strangers who had to learn how to get along, Charlie is no stranger. There’s a part of me that worries if we are risking our friendship by doing this race together?

Indian women

We actually sat down in NYC before we left and reassured each other that this race wouldn’t break us up but make us stronger. However I’m realistic – I’m sure I’ll have times where I really dislike her and vice versa – but I think we both know that dislike in the face of travel stress and adventure is not permanent.

Over the next month in my social media streams you’ll be hearing a lot about this girl named Charlie as we learn how to drive a Rickshaw on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and figure out how to traverse India as two females in this country people are constantly warning me about.

India Traffic

Traffic in India – bikes, rickshaws, trucks, and cars all share the road….and cows.

But for now, I tell myself not to get too far ahead of myself with worry – one thing at a time. Right now, I need to go through the process of succumbing to the force that is India. I know this process of entering a new culture, one that is radically different. It’s filled with doubt and wonderment. The doubt makes me want to turn around and run, but the wonderment makes me want to see more. However the smell of urine in the streets makes me simply go “eeewwww”. Eventually in a week or so this will all seem normal (yes, even the urine), I have to trust my gut on that as I’ve been through this process many times before.

And for the immediate moment, I need to figure out how to go back to sleep as the sun comes up in India.

Interested in learning more about the Rickshaw Run  –

Your Comments

22 Comments so far

  1. Sounds like a trip – I’ll be visiting India next month for the first time. We have to drive overnight to Madrid, then hop on a plane, land in Mumbai at 1am, then have an early flight to Delhi. Yikes!

  2. Sunil says:

    Stumbled upon this post accidentally. Nice one. India is not only North. Do find time to visit South India too.


  3. All the best to you and Charlie on this new venture. I’ll be cheering you on!

  4. Gillian says:

    I’m looking forward to hearing all the adventures you two get up to!

  5. Rhonda says:

    Love that you’re doing the Rickshaw run! After reading about Kim’s adventures last year (so-many-places) I have been anxious to try it for myself. For now, however, just work on getting back on India time. lol, that may be the biggest challenge of all :) Enjoy the chaos.

  6. Wynne says:

    Charlie’s right: you got this! Have a blast, be careful and vigilent, and know that a whole lot of people are cheering you on. Can’t wait to hear all aout it!

  7. James Clark says:

    Good luck to you both! I look forward to seeing what adventures you get up to :)

  8. Pratibha says:

    Wow, good luck! Can make some chocolate cake available if you’re passing by Mysore :)

  9. Lori says:

    I’ve never been to India – but yes, I hope I will one day. I am curious if I’ll have the same feeling of a cultural shock!

  10. I would be nervous too! You are definitely taking on a big challenge.

  11. Sona says:

    At the beginning every new situation or environment seems strange and unusual. Doubt is a normal feeling in such situation. Time will put everything in its place. Wish you good luck and new adventures!

  12. Good luck, good luck, good luck.

  13. Hammad Tariq says:

    You are brave Sherry and I hope you are already on your way or have done it already. However, just be careful outside urban areas of cities. It would be better if you notify local police station or use any rescue app in your phone. It’s relatively and normally always safe but driving a rikshaw will expose you to everything and everyone. Go for it but just be careful!

  14. Good luck with the race! I can’t wait to read about it. Keep your chin up and stay positive. :-) Thanks for sharing.

  15. It’s always nicer travelling with a friend. It’s sort of a sharing of experiences, the good and the bad and in a way … it’s an unspoken kind of watch-my-back-and-I’ll-watch –yours, unconscious understanding.

  16. I hope you do well with the race, India looks electric, so alive, can’t wait to visit!

  17. Good luck with the race and keep up the positivity in you as India is difficult to tackle but at the same time a beautiful, colourful and truly inspiring place to visit. One should definately visit India.

Share your view

Post a comment

Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
New here? Then Start Here.

Where am I and Where am I going?

Minnesota/Wisconsin -> Nebraska

Receive Ottsworld Updates via Email

green line
green line

green line