Encountering New Delhi
I have a love-hate relationship with New Delhi. As much as I love arriving at Indira Ghandi international airport and as much as I love that first drive from the airport to the Main bazaar of the Paharganj district, close to New Delhi’s largest train station and as much as I love my first few days spinning around in a yellow and green ‘Auto’ during mad day-time trips and after I have spent the first few nights drinking myself into a catatonic state with old friends at the ‘Gem Bar’ on Hayward’s 5000 super strong beer, I always find myself wanting to leave within a days of my arrival. Delhi just exhausts me. Or do I exhaust myself?
Delhi is a weekend break to me.
I could never live in New Delhi; Even after just a short period of time spent breathing in the toxic soup that is produced by the two-stroke vehicles that buzz this city like large mechanical mosquitoes , my throat becomes dry and sore and my eyes end up blood-red in colour and they sting like hell. Then my nose becomes blocked and with-in just a few days of breathing this chemical haze I get the first train out and I head towards the clean mountain air in the north. I’m sure that these ailments are caused by the persistent traffic fumes that when mixed with wood burning fires produce a smog that would rival a London pea-super from the late 1950’s. In the past I have occasionally treated myself to a night out at the luxurious Imperial Hotel off Janpath lane; a beautiful old colonial Hotel where my grand parents used to court in the mid 1940’s just to breathe fresh filtered air.
During the day time I have often wondered, on foot, for mile upon mile exploring the uneven pavements and the dusty Delhi suburbs, always dodging the suicidal pann spitting rickshaw wallahs whilst breathing in the blue smoke that spews from the back of their three wheelers.
Jason Scott Tilley