Monday, 20 June 2011


Delhi is vast, and getting around can be a struggle, though not as much as it used to be (so I'm told). Anyway, here's a wee post about the extremes of Delhi locomotion.

I used a cycle rickshaw for the first time yesterday. This has got to be one of the toughest jobs in the world:

I tend to avoid them because I feel so damn conspicuous and, well, white, sitting all sweaty and imperious in the back while the poor bugger on the bike heaves his way to my destination for a few crappy rupees gives me a bad case of the heeby-jeebies (remember that liberal guilt thing I need to get over?). But yesterday I had been shopping for various necessities around the house and kind of overdid it (it was hot, dammit) and not seeing any auto rickshaws about, this seemed like the best option.

Yeah, I felt bad. Especially since my accumulated goods added a good few kilograms to the load (which was already heavier than it should be, on which more later). Fortunately, such niggles can be cast out by the magic process known as Giving A Large Tip. He'd earned it.

At the other end of the scale, behold the Delhi metro, on which I had my virgin experience today:
Oooh, it's nice. It's sleek, it's roomy, it's air conditioned, and best of all the tickets are basically tiddlywinks. Most of it is elevated, and the stations stand out above the Delhi skyline like immense palaces or temples to the gods of commuterland. There's the slight annoyance of having to go through a scan machine and pat-down every time you use it, but otherwise I was seriously impressed (and, I might add, safe).

My favourite thing about the metro was the announcements. Some were comfortingly familiar (they say "mind the gap"!), others seemed to my jaded English ears to come from a different age (I don't think the Tube will be instructing male passengers to "vacate those seats reserved for ladies" any time soon). All delivered in Hindi and perfect, upper-class English with an Indian twist, while an endless landscape of temples and high rises, parks and slums unfolds before you.

London Underground? You can keep it.

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