As I flew into New Delhi, I still had the magical glow in my eyes of being in such a delightful country that is Nepal. I had the sense of reassurance and was slowly starting to regain faith in humanity. That was all about to come crashing down my first 48 hours in India. What can I say about my first 48 hours in New Delhi? Comical? Sad? Tragic? Existential? Anxiety Ridden? Humorous? Angry? I would have to say all of the former. Along with the whole “Is this really happening?” while trying to hold back my laughter at certain times.
My second day in New Delhi my iPhone was stolen. Before this trip, I was 99% sure and prepared about the fact that either my computer or phone would be stolen. But the first 2 hours it was gone, all I kept thinking in my head was “FUCKity, fuck fuck!” and thinking what would happen if that person figured out my pass code. As I sat on my bed, I started to think “it could be worse, I could have had naked pictures of myself on my phone or my bank account number OR perhaps an embarrassing poem about someone way back when (oh wait, I do have that last one somewhere on my phone).” So if someone gets rich off that poem I know it will be coming from India (but they probably won’t, they would just get made fun of). So jokes on you burglar…not really. Jokes still on me.
After being in my own personal hell for the first hour. I debated on booking a flight directly to Goa where I could meet my friends, sit on a beach and forget about my problems while cheering away my problems in a disgusting sugary alcoholic concoction. But that’s not reality is it? I was stuck in a hotel where I knew no one and I just had myself. Fight or flight? Fight or flight? I chose “fighting!” As the Koreans call it.
I summoned up the courage to tell the hotel people (I will not list the name of the hotel) I was pick pocketed and that I needed to find an apple store to access my “find my iphone” application. I was greeted by a blank expression at first. It took a couple seconds for the front desk person to process what I had said then the look of “Oh shit!” came onto his face. That’s when I knew he finally understood me. Right away the manager came down and looked super worried and concerned.
I kind of felt like I should’ve done the whole typical Western tourist debacle where we absolutely needed our belongings back NOW (because our material possessions define who we are right?). I felt like I should’ve started getting upset and saying things like “Do you know who I am?!”(When in reality I am nobody) or “I have so much important data on that phone that cannot be replaced!” (when in reality everything is backed up on my computer and I can get another phone when I get back to the states). But I didn’t. I had no need to or an urge to. It would’ve been completely pointless and it wouldn’t have brought my phone back.
So I just sat on the couch for a few hours with the manager (who I was originally super uncomfortable with and semi freaked out by at first) and his two pugs. He was this super calm beatnik Indian guy with long hair and would sit on the couch in his pajamas and tell me to go to my room and “refresh myself” then we would talk. About what ? I don’t know. I’m still not sure what ‘refresh myself” means. Maybe it’s some term lost in translation between the two of us. Turns out he was a pretty cool guy who has the same sense of humor as I (observant, dry and dark). Even in this shit storm of a situation we would give each other these looks where we understood how ridiculous and over the top some things were.
After the first few hours, the cops showed up. The first one just took information down and asked a couple questions to the hotel people in Hindi and left. The second one, oh the second one, was very serious about his job to say the least. He came walking in, leather jacket, jeans, tennis shoes and all. He asked me “Precisely what happened” So I took him out to the market and showed him where I walked and being approached by a couple guys (if you’re a tourist they swarm you everywhere whether it’s Nepal, Thailand, Ghana, etc.)The first guy told me I looked Indian, I ignored him like with most people that tell me what I look like or guess where I am from. I then proceeded to walk the other way and was approached by guy number two who asked if I was Nepali. Ignored him then continued to walk to the metro stop. Sounds simple right? Wrote that in one paragraph.
However I had to practically re enact the whole scenario in the middle of the day in the New Delhi Main Bazaar, playing all three roles; helpless racially ambiguous western woman, young man #1 and young man #2. Then I wrote an entire one page essay. The cop told me to re-write the whole thing and to leave the last two sentences out. I looked at the blank paper; looked at him, thought about how I hadn’t eaten all day. Then wrote the whole thing again. At this point, this is usually the point where the detectives start to turn the tables on you.
“Are you sure you left the hotel with your phone?”
“Are you absolutely, positively sure?”
“I’m going to ask you again. This will be written down in your statement. Are you 100% confident it was with you when you left the hotel?”
I just kept thinking “I wouldn’t be in this situation, if I wasn’t sure.”
He asked to look in my hotel room to see where I emptied my bag when I got back from the thievery I had fallen victim to. Pretty basic, I showed him. By this time I think he started really getting into his job because he was re enacting how I came back into my hotel room then started repeating what I had said. I just kind of looked at him now with a blank expression however the thoughts in my brain were not blank to say the least.
At this point, while standing in my hotel room he made a very passionate speech. “Okay, I don’t know where your phone is. I’m confident it was someone in the market. But I am here to tell you I will do everything in my power to find this phone. I WILL GET THIS PHONE. WE WILL FIND THIS PHONE!” as he pointed at the ground and stood there like Walker Texas Ranger or some Hindi equivalent of Walker Texas Ranger with a serious expression.
I had to use every muscle in my body to hold back from busting out into laughter. I think everything was too surreal for me to comprehend what was happening and I knew at that point my phone was gone for good and I had made peace with it. Plus with my “find my iphone” application, I was able to remotely deleted everything on my phone once it is turned on. (oh the wonders of wireless technology).
I turned my “about to burst into laughter” smirk into a “Thank you. That is very kind” smile. Maybe it was after seeing how the cop cared more about getting that phone back and also seeing him yell at everyone in the market from the guy selling bananas to the little boy selling his apples, something about him put me off. He finally left after declining tea (most people know me and how much I love tea, so that gave me an idea of him) and just being a rude human being, I was glad to see him leave. Once the chaos settle down, I went to my room to eat dinner and lay down for 15 minutes. Then off to the Indian police station it was.
I never got the chance to walk the streets of New Delhi yet and I was starting to feel like a bit cabin fever. Therefore I was pretty happy to be walking outside even if it was to the police station. If I could compare the Indian Police Station to anything, it would have be the wonderful and reliable system in America that is called the Indian Health Service or also known to Natives; IHS. If there is one common theme between the two said services it would have to be, apathy.
What exactly is apathy? According to Websters dictionary; Apathy is the feeling of not having much emotion or interest : an apathetic state. lack of feeling or emotion : impassiveness. (Note: take this comparison and opinion with a grain of salt as I used to work in an IHS related organization. I would have to say a majority of IHS employees and the organization contain this characteristic however it does not define everyone involved. There are still wonderfully beautiful and hopeful people that do still exist and work in these services.) The employees are physically there but not really there when it comes to human emotion or empathy whether your a victim of theft or on fire.
Anywho after submitting my documents to 5 different people. The last part was my favorite. The hotel manager and I sat in a computer room (filled with mismatched computers from the 90’s) while the police typist typed for about 20-30 minutes without expression or talking to us. And for a typist, it’s your job right? You would think they would be fast. But homeboy was typing at a glacial pace of probably 15 words per minute. I felt as if I had been taken back to Tuba City IHS where I am staring at an expressionless woman for 10 minutes asking if I can check in to see a doctor while my eyeball is falling out of its socket and my hair is on fire.
Finally after not seeing the guy once make any type of movement on his face he asked where my statement was, he wrote the paragraph and its contents in 10 minutes. After going to two more people, I finally got my police report and walked out of the police station. As I put my police report in my bag, I couldn’t help but dryly say to the hotel manager:
“I better put this police report securely in my bag because this may get stolen as well.”
We half smiled at one another then walked through the streets of New Delhi back to the Main Bazaar.
♥Beastie Boys- Sabotage♥