Sunday, August 1, 2010

The shocking insight into the poverty

The flight from Hamburg to Delhi via Dubai was pretty exhausting, because I couldn’t resist watching some movies (now I at least can recommend ‘Green Zone’ and ‘Invictus’ although Matt Damon is acting in both of them) and listening to the good old Bob Dylan instead of sleeping to adjust to the 3,5 hours time difference. I also had interesting company by an elderly woman who was going to Kabul (Afghanistan) to see her parents the first time after 18 year. In this sense our own parents shouldn’t take it so serious when we leave for half a year, or one year or even more, because we always have a realistic chance to come back. In times of war, nobody knows what’s gonna happen…
Although I was informed quiet well by friends about beginner mistakes and No-Go’s in India, I think I stepped in quiet a lot of them. Wondering around at the airport in Delhi isn’t good. There are just a way too many people offering services, so I got caught by a guy who help me dialling a telephone number, although none of us would need that kind of help. Anyway that was the beginning of my first trap. After not reaching the person by phone, he ordered me a taxi driver and I - exhausted, entirely wet from sweating in the humidity of about 35 degrees and not willing to argue - was suddenly sitting in a cab into the city. That wasn’t the plan, because friends told me earlier to buy a fixed taxi ticket from the nearby stand. Rates are fixed, so they cannot cheat on you. I’ll get to the point of that story later, cause it’s going to continue, but firstly we are on our way towards a new world. At the first meters I just thought we might be out of the city very far and that would explain, why everything looked so destroyed, unlikely to live in and also a bit lonely, but the closer we drove into the city, the more I realised that I’m in a very poor country now. I though “hm… it will take a while before I get used to the environment here, but that’s ok.” The streets became more crowded and it felt good to see people wearing this typical Indian cloth, something what I expected and this was the moment when I thought “yeah its gonna be a really nice time here…” The taxi driver was very friendly and asking me where I’m from. It didn’t take to long and we entered Delhi and suddenly my mood changed again, when I felt to be on a different planet! Ok, don’t think I’m too naive, but what I’ve seen you can’t believe if somebody is telling you about it. Photos also don’t touch you in that way. The streets were totally taken away, because at the moment they are rebuilding the city for the big event of the Commonwealth Games in October. All the construction and work was achieved by skinny people’s handcraft. They were carrying stones and soil on their heads. Others were sleeping in the mud, had taken all sort of stuff from construction sites to build little shelters for housing. Rikshas and other traffic participants were driving chaotically through this scenery and honking as much as possible. It seemed to me, that instead of a break they only got a honk and everybody is playing chicken game, where the one looses who’s leaving his lane first. Little kids were playing in flooded streets, where oil or some other chemical was the top layer. I was really shocked and upset about my first impressions. Then we stopped and I had to get off, because my driver was taking me into a sort travel agency. People were starring at me and I just wanted to get out of this situation, thinking if I’m “sure to live here for the next four month.” In that place they already knew how to treat a foreigner and by saying they saw a mobile cash machine in me, I don’t exaggerate. They offered me Hotels for more than 50 Euros although in the Lonely Planet it was stated with about 2 Euros. That there would have been neither running water nor electricity didn’t make it seem nicer. In the phone line with the hotels they always asked me, where I’m from, and when I once told them not to answer, the hotel was suddenly booked! I could help myself just by pulling the emergency break. I called Hannah, the girl that also works in my project and asked her to let me stay at her place for a night. Luckily she was kind enough to make it possible. After another taxi ride through a really poor area I arrived at Vasant Kunj, a district in the very south of Delhi. The “tourist” driver was done with me and wanted to have 1800 INR (that amount of Indian Rupees is equivalent to 30 Euros), which is quiet a lot if you imagine that a typical Indian can buy groceries for a month from that amount (thanks to Gitangali for the remarkable comparison).
Being at Hannah’s place let the world look better to me, because it was clean and felt save. She gave me a brief introduction to the Delhi life, and after I had refreshed myself I drove into the city with a Riksha. This was my first time going in a Riksha and I have to admit that it was fun from the beginning. Sure you have to get used to the driving habits here, and also trust the driver’s skills… and apart from the smog, and all the bumps making you jump on the back seat, I was smiling again. This time I went to a place called Khan Market and Pandara Road Market, which are both in the south of Delhi. They are kind of like everybody would expect Delhi to look like: dirty, chaotic and full of people… strange little shops and food stands, but it looked at least nicer and safer then where I’ve been earlier that day. Actually I was still not self confident enough to take picture, but at least I was on my way to get along in my brave new world. Since I haven’t had food for long I was going into a restaurant. It was quiet expensive for the common money terms, but again I was paying off my background. There I randomly met Hannah and Carsten, a GTZ consultant who I will work with… what a coincidence! In the evening they went to a party, but I stayed at home to relax a bit from all that things what happened in the last days. Also on Sunday I just left the house for getting some food and more impressions of where I’ll be living for the next time.
Here are some of my first pictures what I took, but believe me they are harmless compared to other areas I’ve seen. There I was just not able or in the mood of taking pics!

This is the nice and proteced area where I found a place for the first couple of days. There are gates, walls and staff looking for the inhabitants security...but "outside" it looks different...

1 comment:

  1. Haha Andy.. c'mon.. its not all that bad.. share the good parts with us!! ;)