Sunday, October 02, 2005

Delhi Sandwiches

The Park Hotel - New Delhi, India
White Hotel - Simla, India
Green Cyber Cafe - MacCleod Ganj, India

The capital of India is more different-different than same-same compared to my expectations. I thought it would have a big center full of tall, grey buildings surrounded by a large expanse of medium-density commercial and residential districts. Things are a lot more varied than that. The central bit of the city (New Delhi) is full of large buildings set back from busy but wide tree-lined avenues. The trees are by no means restricted to the streets, though. From above and below, Delhi is surprisingly green. There are a number of large parks and the government area is built around a long patch of green (much like The Mall in DC or the Pal Mall in London) flanked on all sides by palatial buildings, long ponds, and monumental archways.

Old Delhi (a compact area to the north of the new city) is a different world. Narrow, crowded, and very busy streets are lined with crumbling two and 3 story buildings. The shops spill out onto the road and the combined motorbike, tuk tuk, bicycle rickshaw, and automobile traffic almost literally rubs elbows with street vendors. Somehow pedestrians manage to squeeze into the remaining space. The result is the cacophonous street life that a diet of Western movies and TV led me to expect. The only difference between Old Delhi and more outlying areas is that the old city is occasionally broken up by a massive fort, mosque, or temple, whereas the rest of town works around a larger than you might think number of owner-less cows.

The historical parts of Delhi do not disappoint. The major attractions in the Old Town are a giant fort and the biggest mosque in India. Both impress. South of town there are the remnants of a 14th century fort that is now inhabited only by monkeys. You are free to roam around the rocks and take in the comparative serenity of the ruin. It is a refreshing change from more developed tourist sites. Informative placards are far between and you are left to enjoy the site only for what it is now - unless of course you involuntarily pick up a tour guide and can not find a way to shake him without being very rude and then have to shell out some rupees for his "expertise". Like me.

Delhi can be overpowering. It is stressful to navigate unfamiliar streets while trying to avoid being run down, fending off relentless towts, and saying no time and again to enthusiastic 3-year-old beggars. Despite all that, I have never felt at all scared for my safety, something that I can not say for big American cities. I attribute this feeling of security to two things: 1) the prevalence of English - many people speak at least some of the Queen's lingo and almost all signs are easily read by a Anglo-literate honkey such as myself; 2) travel experience - Jason guesses that Delhi would be a lot more difficult if we had come here first. I agree. Places like Russia, China, and Vietnam were good training for a place like Delhi.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only saw it once last weekend but I'm seeing it again this weekend.

Also, you guys are making me want to go to India.

10/05/2005 5:03 PM gmt

Blogger Mik3 said...

Are you sure the "lucrative career" bit was not also Jingrish? Do you really make bank promenading pooches and scooping poop?

10/07/2005 8:50 AM gmt

Blogger jason said...

If the dog's name were Lola, then the story would truly be complete.

10/07/2005 10:11 AM gmt

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendy I was told. Hope I don't get into trouble for saying this! Good thing that no body understands me anyways. Nuno had fun though :)

10/08/2005 10:31 AM gmt

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Safe to assume that any career path is more lucrative than the grad school one. of course I can blind myself with some claims of growth in personal stock.
... I speak perfect English!
It was good to see you Juan and Ben.

10/08/2005 10:41 AM gmt

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what the f is ROTFLMAO????

10/08/2005 10:42 AM gmt

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My friend's dog is named Lola.

10/10/2005 11:32 PM gmt

Blogger jason said...

Have you asked her to run?

10/11/2005 8:09 AM gmt


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