Friday, December 5, 2008

Delhi

Yesterday we made our first trip into Delhi. Ray had a meeting set up with an architect to get an understanding of the development process in Delhi and India generally. Another colleague of the architect joined us for lunch and we all had a have very interesting dialogue discussing poverty, sustainable communities and some design aspects. It was very fruitful with further contacts and introductions being arranged for Ray.

  Before lunch we went to Connaught Place which is in the centre of Delhi formed by two rings of colonial style buildings. Literally, as soon as we were away from the car we had a person asking us if we needed help? Where were we from? etc. He took us to a tourist office where we picked up a map and got a quote for a 3 day trip to Agra and Rhajastan. We then continued wandering around looking at a few shops here and there. Delhi is very different to Gurgaon where we are occasionally approached by beggars; in Delhi everyone seems to speak some English and is trying to sell you something. Whether it be postcards or a shoe shine.

  We had lunch at the India International Centre in Delhi, the food was once again very good; if we keep going at this rate we are not going to lose any weight which we were assured would happen.

   After our lunch, our driver (who actually spoke OK English) took us to see a couple of sites including India Gate and the government offices. We drove through some of the nicer leafier streets of Delhi and visited a government tourist shop where you could buy all sorts of handicrafts - although not very cheaply. 

  After a long day we headed home. Our driver explained to us all about his village and life as a driver. He was 22 years old and the eldest son in a family of five who live in a one room house. He was the only one in his family with a job and earns 4500 rupees a month ($140) He pays for the education of his brothers and is paying back a 150,000 rupee loan to the bank which he needed to pay for an eye operation for his father. He hopes one day to be able to build a two room house in his village so that he might be able to get married. As a driver he works 24 hours a day and sleeps while he is waiting for people.

  I have just finished reading a book called The White Tiger, I believe it is on the bestseller list in Australia as it is in India. It recently won the Booker prize. Much of the book is set in Delhi and Gurgaon where we live (including the places where we go). It follows the entrepreneurial rise of a village boy to a driver and beyond. The book gives an interesting insight into the area we live and how things work around here. I warn you though there is nothing pretty about the story but it is a good read. Although Gurgaon is a "new" area it does not look new in the Sydney sense; it is dusty with construction going on everywhere and there is rubbish everywhere. Funnily, we bought an ice cream each at the mall before we went home the other night and as we were waiting for our driver I could not bring myself to drop the empty cup on the ground with all the other garbage... it just felt wrong, so I carried it home and put it in the bin...

Oh... I have added more photos to my facebook page as it is easier to add photos on fb. Please add me as a friend if you would like to see them. I will add a few more on the blog but it is a tedious process until I work out an easier way.

Phir milege! (See you later!)

2 comments:

Calum said...

Wow. There are so many incredible stories about people paying for healthcare in India. It’s unthinkable for me from the UK to imagine having a debt for an operation that would take 3 years’ income to pay back. I also read the White Tiger when I was in India a few weeks ago. I found it hard to read as it was very difficult to empathise with the protagonist. But its so well written.
BTW The Khan market is great for bookshops. Its near Lodi Colony. Lodi colony is also good for authentic Indian crafts. It’s a really nice part of town.

Anonymous said...

HI VERY INTERESTING AS IT IS 245 AM I GUESS I SHOULD GO TO BED BUT HAVE EMAILED YOU OUR NEWS. EACH TIME I READ YOUR BLOG I FEEL DRAWN TO INDIA. KEEP WRITING ASRAM PHILOSOPHY SOUNDS A BIT LIKE A KABUTZ COMMUNITY ONLY POORER. HOW ARE YOU ALL COPING WITH THE POVERTY AND EXTREME NEEDS IE LIKE HAVING FOOD ABUNDANTLY WHEN OTHERS HAVE NOT. WHEN I WAS IN AFRICA I SAT DOWN ONCE TO EAT LUNCH IN A GARAGE I WAS WORKING IN SHARED MY LUNCH WITH A GUY I LATER FOUND OUT HAD NOT EATEN FOR 3 DAYS. SADLY ONE OF THE BOSSES PUT AN END TO MY SHARING LUNCH. BUT I OFTEN WONDER WHAT BECAME OF HIM ESTRANGED FROM HIS FAMILY BECAUSE HE COULD NOT FEED THEM SO THEY REMALED APART. DAVE