Friday, December 2, 2011

Days and Nights in New Delhi

By Kathleen

Sorry for the lax posting, it’s been pretty dismally calm here.

New Delhi can be an exciting place, or it can be mind-numbing. I hate that in cities you can’t be bored and go for a walk in the woods. In an Indian city especially going out for a walk always becomes an adventure and sometimes you don’t want an adventure you just want a god-damn walk.

That beings said this is what we’ve been up to:

Annual Day:
Fiz’s cousin has two kids, both boys, aged 13 and 8. Their school is posh, large and multi-storied with a soccer field and stadium lights, the amount of space it takes up is quite impressive considering it’s in the heart of New Delhi. Well once a year they have the Annual cultural and Sports Day, to prove their “fitness”.

“Fitness” is an obsession here, and while I agree that obesity is bad, there is more to life than sports, something which people here don’t always seem to get. Sports, Money, Family, end of story.

So we sat through two long, chilly hours of kids performing really mediocre theater and dance. Oh it’s true I’m bias, I was a theater kid and I went to a performing arts high school that produced really awesome stuff so when people say “they are just kids” I say “ so?” no excuse for bad theater.

It was interesting to see how many things were on fire during the show, at one point literally 40 kids had torches, TORCHES, out on the field… and yes a kid did catch on fire and need to be thrown under a blanket.

Birthday-Indian Style:

The day after Annual Day turned out to be one of the boy’s birthday so we got to celebrate India style. It’s been a few years since I was 8 but the level of the party seemed a little over the top to me. I mean really did the kid need a caterer? Really? I guess in India the answer is yes.

There was even a magician, which was a nice distraction and meant I didn’t need to pretend to be amused by 15 sugar high 8 year olds. (Though wow, they were all sitting very nicely and talking very pleasantly and then the soda was handed out. Ten minutes later they were bouncing off the walls yelling, popping balloons. I wish we had video of it. “These are your kids on sugar”)

The whole thing lasted about three times as long as I would have liked and nobody was speaking any English except Fiz. My Hindi is getting better, slowly, but after being so sick I didn’t much care to play bablefish with my brain. Turns out one of the ‘relatives’ who was sitting next to me for hours spoke English perfectly fine, she just hadn’t wanted to speak to me.

When she did start talking to Fiz later it was quickly revealed that she is one of the most boring people on Earth. I practically fell asleep as she explained her job and when she proudly said that she “never ate anywhere but home, ever” I just nodded. Clearly it was pointless to disagree. My favorite part was when she showed us a stand up comic on you-tube “here you’ll know him he’s American” and then he was British. Really people there’s a big difference between the U.S and the U.K… like 3,000 miles of water I like to call the North Atlantic.

A Venture into the Upper Crust:

So two years ago when we were in Auroville we met a woman our age who was loud, out-going and perfectly modern India. Her husband played in a pysc-trance band and she offered us rolls in the first minute of conversation. We declined but we have stayed in touch so we looked her up on the facebook and told her we were in town.

I hadn’t ever been to Gurgaon accept once on Valentines day to go to a hookah bar, and wow is it a totally different world. There are trees and huge glossy glistening Technicolor marriage halls and country clubs and malls like OMG.

Set amongst all this modern glam were pods of high rises which are not businesses but flashy sexy designer apartments for the new Indian Elite. We took the metro out to meet our friend. She met us with her chauffeur a half hour later because she had gone to the wrong station, she doesn’t take the metro, she confessed.

Her house was something out of either a designer magazine or an IKEA wet dream, everything was brand new, there were big windows, a nice kitchen and three floors of rooms. It was kinda intimidating I won’t lie.

We had dinner there and sort of talked, it seems the Indian tradition of not being great with strangers crosses over economic gaps. We smoked, we played Uno. It was nice to get out of the house and away from people who think we are extra-terrestrials. But it made me miss my down to earth friends and super appreciative of just how awesome they are.

This entry is mostly thinly veiled complaints. I’m itching to move on and get outta India. I’m sure I’ll miss it when I’m gone but right now this particular trip has been a huge fail. I still feel tired from being sick and seem to have lost all taste for Indian food, which is awkward. We leave for Melbourne in two days  and I’m a bit nervous about finding a job and getting into the travel groove again.

We’ll keep you posted.

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