Monday, 6 October 2014

Lost in the New World, pt 1

A travel essay

We arrive in Delhi – it is eight o’clock at night, it is summer, it is dark. The security getting through is strict, and guards stand by the exits with rifles. I stock up on bottled water from WH Smith, flick through The Economist: jobs are scarce, India is failing its youth. It feels just like home.

Leaving Indira Gandhi International, it is like a museum or an arts school, murals of dancers and elephants in orange and yellow are plastered over charcoal grey columns. It is clean. It is crisp.

The drive from the airport introduces a new face of the city. It is scary – not from broken roads or brazen pedestrians, the scary that I am used to and that was often documented with a ‘Whee’ as I swung around the back of rickshaws as a child. No, this scary is from an urban jungle built up in the form of multi-lane highways, thousands of cars, crossroads and a driver running every red light we meet. I am reminded of how big Delhi actually is, and how small London is in comparison.

We enter into a private complex around eleven, and a personal tailor has stayed open late for us. Satya Paul pieces litter her rails, and she talks to me about Arcadia brand – she does work for them too. She quotes my sister Rs. 800 for each post-wedding outfit she is getting made – around £10 each. She takes credit cards. As our trip continues, it seems everywhere takes credit card.

We stay with family friends for the night – both are corporate, both in finance, both achieving post-graduate certificates. The stay is comfortable, there is wifi, we WhatsApp, we Skype home – we are here! It smells like India! We will take a flight to Amritsar in the morning.

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