Okay i’m in delhi, now what?

Posted on November 25, 2005

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Hello boys and girls, time I sent out something from India.
I’m more inspired than i’ve been for a while, and more confused. Mainly confused. Moods up and down. But don’t think I want to return to the normality of anywhere else quite yet. Cos Delhi is fun.

This is me first morning after arriving. With all bran. come all the wholesome way from australia. the bran that is, and me i suppose. As you can see i’m a little sideways. Just literally blown over by the whole experience. This is my new backyard. Well actually its all backyard front yard, just that some of it has a roof, thats where i sleep etc. i must get the landlord to make the floor horizontal.

First impressions
i’m in delhi, in the south, lajpat nagar, near a central market. look it up on web. its kinda comparable on a city wide economic scale (from tent dwelling to palace knobs say), to a nice ish suburb of melbourne. kinda the south east. cos it is actually the south east.
oh my god i’m living in delhi’s malvern or hawthorn.
but thats the thing thats hardest to explain. delhi is not like melbourne or geelong at all. 80% of people in those cities live in a house thats a bit better or a bit worse than everyone elses. others back home have flats (general variation from okay to rad) and a few more have mansions or camp out or are homeless. but here its every extreme and everything in between.
saw my first slums yesterday. i actually thought i was in the slums until hannah explained that this was a nice place to live.
then i saw actual slums and its pretty mad. not quite like what you’ve seen on starvingkids.com with the chubby white presenter, but it gives you a picture. so, my ‘hood’s a good place to be. this picture, everyone, is my hood, so say hello everyone. this is from the 5th floor. a man selling handkerchiefs just going past. actually its usually busier than this. notice the cars. definitely a status symbol in Delhi.

trying to buy a digital camera but they’re all price hiked here with import duty.

government of india is hardcore. ebaying it but they’re kinda crap locally. australia and america ebay have some good options but i don’t wanna wait too long. didn’t get a chance in bangkok to buy one. was too scared to leave the airport. i’m such a wooss sometimes. but i did get an unconventional offer from hairdresser i went to for a shave and cut. they call it massage in thailand. in india, massage is massage.
So some points about Delhi and India generally:

1. The cows and dogs everywhere
Its true. Kinda cool though. I’ve only seen one cat, and it was wierd looking, but tonnes of dogs. My dearest is scared stiff of them, but i think some of them are quite cute actually, handsome even. Must be the tough delhi environment that breeds em good.

2. Temples everywhere
Mostly modern, as nearly everything here is younger than independence, about 1947. But the things that are older are very noticeably older. you’ll just be cruising along in a taxi down some modern street and theres a crumbling old ruin of some long dead guys mausoleum. so many tombs. this place is old. and i haven’t even gotten started on the really old stuff yet. so yeah you may have gathered that

3. i like old stones
india is the right place to indulge this passion. didn’t know i cared about architecture much until i came here. perhaps its because Australia is unadventurous with its architecture, with a handful of noteable exceptions (Sydney Opera House, Fed Square, Sam Newman’s house in South Melbourne (someone google this place)) it has some of the most uniformly conservative, innefficient, innappropriate and most of all stuffy and boring architecture in the world. British colonial stuff, conventional scyscrapers, hectares of suburban sameness. i knew this already, but coming here has really fired me up about it.

having said that, india has some very dodgy buildings and construction practices. money is an issue, and development is cheerfully anarchic. people often just stick stuff up and wait to be told off. feels like it could all fall over any minute. but i’ve just seen tombs 700 or more years old for crying out loud. nothing like that in australia. mind you, australia doesn’t have rubbish everywhere.

4. i also like beer. once again, india good place to go.
as its reasonably cheap and plentiful here, and theres usually some reasonably priced food to go with it. but its never cold enough except in really expensive places. i managed to wax 24 bucks on beer last night at some wanky place (Calypso in Hauz Khas village (it overlooks a tomb), go there but have just the one) and nearly fell over when i got the bill. i only had three! two heinies and a kingfisher (for the unitiated thats a local beer here, quite good). wine’s ordinary and overpriced btw.

you get used to cheapness and forget that 5. there’s people here that are way way way way way richer than me or anyone i know. which brings me to the next point.

6. there are people here that are way way way poorer than me or anyone i know.
i’m not going to talk about the beggars and so on. enough’s been said already i think. maybe later. maybe i have to digest it for a while first.

that aside, the number of people in the middle, (say plus or minus fifty percent of my average income in australia as a bartender for the sake of the argument) is growing rapidly. which means delhi is quickly sprouting western style shopping malls with a/c, mcdonalds, pizza hut, baskin robbins, dominoes, western style local chains like ‘spangles pizza’. everyone on indian cable tv talks half hindi half english so funny. hindi blah blah blah blah very special children blah blah blah latest model hindi blah blah. which reminds me, lots of new model cars on the roads, flash looking motorbikes, a few 4x4s, and the numbers of private vehicles is growing very quickly.

which will fuck the air quality again. National Capital Territory government just managed to fix it, by forcing all the auto rickshaws to go compressed natural gas (CNG), so the air ain’t so bad really at the moment. but alongside clean autos are new diesel and high octane fuel chompers coming on stream every day, clogging up the roads. autos and taxis and trains are an economical way of getting round, and quite convenient, but its the owning of the shiny vehicle that matters i’m guessing. also the way (non clean) fuel is advertised, it comes across as a kind of luxury item or prestige item, so people like buying stinky fuel is my surmise. but having said that delhi is spending loads on a shiny new metro system.

repeat: delhi is building an underground rail system.
quite quickly too by local standards. this place is really steaming ahead, they’ll put us to shame within fifty years i’m betting. all australian governments do is build new highways, making the problem worse in the end. melbourne needs to lift its game.

anyway, i’ll get off that all that now.

on a personal note, i’m loving being able to hang out with h again. thanks go to a lot of people (they know who they are) for encouraging me, giving me employment, giving me advice, telling me not to give up, inspiring me, and getting me a bank loan he he he doh…
its all working out quite well at the moment. just h and i need to get over an attack of the indecisives and figure out what route we’re going to take in our travels. we’re getting along better and better, once i had a few delhi tantrums and tears i’m much better.

learning to get along after an absence is harder than i thought.

we went to the latest harry potter the other night. quite good, but my problem is that i know there’s another book still to go and so i’m not overly concerned for young master potter’s wellbeing or safety. but thats probably not the point. h loves those movies. and we had maccas (with more than half vege menu would you believe it, i love it, and no beef anywhere of course) at half time. so all the comforts of home really.

anyway, i’m tired of typing now.

bye bye namaste
sam sudama mule (don’t know exactly what tag to use generally, but india even more so)

dammit i can’t get all the pictures to work (blogger will hear of this).

so i’ll send em next time okay? damn, some of them were funny to. and would have made me blog look much snazzier damn it all. ha my first public delhi rage. the ones that have worked btw, are available full resolution just click and download or whatever, i can’t even see what this page will look like when i’m done.

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