What ho!! The moment I’m writing this is the evening of my second full day in Delhi. I’m sitting in my “living-room”, my tummy is filled with delicious Indian food (chicken tikka roll), and I’m exhausted after a busy day. There is a big smile on my face and I hope it will remain there over night when my stomach starts dealing with the food.
I’m pleased to say that my journey from the UK was pretty eventless and all my flights were on time. After my friend Aaron had driven me to Heathrow (thanks again Aaron!!) I spent the night there on a bench and actually managed to get some sleep. I then took the plane from Heathrow to Paris in the early morning from where I got my connection to Delhi. I landed here in Delhi shortly before midnight and got myself a prepaid taxi to a hotel that the people from Chintan had booked for me in advance. After a good night’s sleep, Brij from Chintan picked me up and took me to the office where I was fed, introduced to everyone and shown my workspace. In the afternoon I was then taken to the estate agent and I was given a room, of which I will put up photos shortly. It consists of a bathroom (with a hot water tank giving me just enough hot water for a 2 minute shower J) a bedroom with a double bed and a living room with a fridge. It is pretty spacious but also rather dirty and old. However, it being within walking distance from the office is what really matters to me… so all I need to do now is figure out the way to get there.
After having slept for around 14 hours last night I woke up in the late morning today. It being a bank holiday (Republic Day) the office was closed and so I had a day to explore the city. I decided to head into the center of New Delhi. I took the metro, which is thanks to the Commonwealth Games extremely user friendly, highly modern, and yet ridiculously cheap. It being my first visit to India I decided to, in proper tourist style, make my way to (and through) the Indian Gate (a.k.a. the War Memorial Arch). Having had a lie in, I missed out on the parade but when I arrived there were still a lot of people in the streets. From the Gate I made my way towards the President Estate. Unfortunately, due to the festivities the road to get closer to it was still closed, so I headed further North towards Central Park and Connaught Place.
As impressive as the mile between the Arch and the President Estate is, as disappointing did I find the inner circle of the Connaught Place. It’s overly touristy (even though some locals were playing badminton in front of the Levis Jeans Store) and just not very nice… I thought it had a rather artificial feeling to it.
Now, I have to say that even though it sounds like I haven’t seen a lot, you need to keep in mind that this place is absolutely massive and places are far apart from each other. I don’t know how many miles I’ve walked today but it must have been a couple. The blisters on my feet (yes I should have walked in my new walking boots more than I did) stand as proof.
I suppose I’m not really giving you any impression about how Delhi feels. And to be honest it’s very hard to describe, probably mainly due to the fact that Delhi can be divided into a number of cities, which are all different (well at least the few parts I’ve discovered so far). That part of the greater city, which has until now impressed me the most is the part in which I live (Lajpat Nagar IV). Especially at night the place is just magic. Just like when you swim though the sea and hit a warmer or colder current, when you walk through the streets and back streets, you are constantly exposed to different smells and sounds, and you never know what awaits you around the next corner. There are a lot of small shops and street vendors here selling everything (apart from toilet paper L) from traditional silk clothing to modern smart phones. Streets are in a bad condition, the lights don’t always work (my room is in an especially dark corner) and it is very dusty (that includes my bed – thank god I brought my sleeping bag). Nevertheless there are plenty of cars and tuck tucks and the place is is very lively. What pleases me most however is that I don’t seem to stand out as the tall white Westerner that I am who aimlessly wanders around in the hope to find back the street where his room is. I thought I would be hassled more, but I find that most street vendors and auto rickshaw drivers just ignore me. And it is not a touristy place at all, unlike in the center of New Delhi where I was constantly spoken too by people trying to make some money.
Anyway, these are just some of my first impressions as a tourist here in Delhi. Tomorrow I’ll be working with Chintan again. That’s what I’m here for and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll post an update as soon as I can.