New Delhi So Far – II

9 Apr

In continuation from this post earlier on, here’s more on what I’ve gathered from our nation’s capital region.

  • While I understood pretty early on (thanks to Bangalore) that autos here do not run on meters, I still ventured around using this mode of transport, from which I learned that a) meters are not used for regular distances, b) meters are used only for long distant journeys, c) you can haggle about the price you wish to pay as long as it is reasonable and in relation to the amount that is generally charged in a particular area, d) you need to have an air of confidence and assertiveness to bargain because they can sniff pretense out in a jiffy, e) not all auto walas are gundas even though I will take the absolute liberty to give each of them a gunda-esque status and judge them accordingly once the ride is over.

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  • In connection to the previous pointer, regular distances are areas that particular autos ply on, on a regular basis. Given the size of large metropolitan cities, each auto has a set area they ferry people within, just to make somebody’s (I’m not sure whose) life more organised. Long distances, I presume, would span outside this regional jurisdiction and will therefore require the auto wala to switch on his meter lest he get underpaid or something…or so I was told. Who’s to know?
  • In connection with points one and two, it has been confirmed that taking a cab is better than taking an auto because a) cab fares are very competitive here, b) your fare includes an air conditioned car, c) you are not imposed upon with pollution and dust and other paraphernalia that could come in your way if you were in an auto. At best, one ends up paying 10-15 bucks more than the auto fare and paying 10-15 rupees extra for a tracked, air conditioned drive (and not ride) is a steal. Having said that, autos are still in business for various reasons, one primary one being that they’re everywhere and are available on the spot minus the worry of an internet connection or waiting or a phone battery that threatens to die. And sometimes one needs the wind in their hair, especially on pleasant days.
  • People in this city have their golguppas/phuchkas/pani puri with chilled pani. They also have two varieties of puris – one made with ata (wheat flour) and the other made with suji (semolina). The latter is softer (therefore making it easier for old people and yours truly to have) and sometimes tastier, but definitely heavier on the tummy than the regular ata ones we’re all used to having. I knew this from before, but I’ve no idea how I forgot to mention it here earlier.
  • In Bangalore, we say amma, ma, boss, guru, anna, macha or even sir to address men and women. In NCR (National Capital Region) we say behenji, madamji, auntyji, aap, bhai, uncle, uncleji, hanhji (as I’m addressed) and the term abe oye and saale if you’re calling someone younger, someone you’re acquainted with or someone you feel is not up to your level… However, I haven’t heard women use that very commonly.
  • Bangalore has two kinds of Hindi spoken – north Indian Hindi and south Indian Hindi. I’ve not counted how many dialects of Hindi I’ve heard here, but I’m sure there are more than at least five.
  • However, there is only one type of Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil I have heard here – the ones spoken by Kannadigas, Malayalees and Tamilians. Hearing Kannada makes me want to backtrack my steps and follow the speaker(s) just so I can hear it some more.
  • People here do not put rangoli at their gates. If anybody does, they have their roots or connections to the South.
  • Despite having a large non-vegetarian loving population, not many people love fish. It’s a common thing for a north Indian to not love fish (and I mean LOVE fish) the way many, many south Indians (me included) do.
  • Licensed refrigerated drinking water carts on the streets are a thing, especially in summer. Glasses of cold water garnished with a rose petal and the option to add salt and/or sugar to replenish lost electrolytes in this blistering heat is a God send.

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  • While Bangalore is a biryani lover’s paradise, NCR is not. I’ve had the most disappointing experiences especially when my cravings have been so strong. Who would do that to a food lover? Anyway, not all hope is lost. The hunt for a good biryani in the nation’s food capital is still on.
  • I’ve seen more Audis, Beemers, Mercs, Jags, Land Rovers, Porches, here than I have in my entire lifetime. Needless to say, the display of wealth is vastly different in various parts of the country.
  • Buttttttttttttt, primarily due to climatic and safety (among many other) reasons, I’ve seen fewer bikes. While restaurants and many commercial spaces reserve exclusive parking slots for the Harley Davidson clan, I’ve not come across as many cruisers as I have in Bangalore.
  • The first and last coaches of the metro are reserved exclusively for women. Some coaches have the entire seating in pink to make it more clear.

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  • If you are to use the metro and want to go to Connaught Place, your station will be Rajiv Chowk. It is the peak time Dadar, the mad Majestic of all stations here, just to put things into perspective. This is also where one alights if you’ve to catch a train from New Delhi railway station.
  • While Airtel’s services are rock solid in Bangalore and the south where network and connectivity are concerned, it’s a goner here. My network is always indicative of not being there at all – before a call arrives and during a call (should the call come through), but never after the call is done with. My ‘no service’ bar promptly springs all its five dots back into action once a call has gone past or has been battled for. It’s a wonder how the Airtel 4G ad and its annoying partner in crime even made it here.
  • When people speak of the pollution here, it’s for real. I carried an umbrella with me the other weekend because it was getting dark and indicative of possible rainfall. However, the sky was clear but the streetlights were on (by 5pm) due to the smog which I had mistaken for a grey rain cloud.
  • There are peacocks almost everywhere, at least in the lesser populated areas. There are also the occasional monitor lizards who decide to take their strolls on the road from time to time.
  • Speaking of which, the lizards here are larger in size than what I’m used to in Bangalore. As are the mosquitoes.
  • Garbage segregation is sadly not a thing here, yet.
  • While it is so heartening to see tender coconut water vendors dotting the roads of this region, it’s a bad idea to have this drink before and a few hours after the sun has set…because then you’d be drinking hot tender coconut water and that’s just oxymoronish.
  • The newspapers here file a picture of an unidentified dead person, mostly at railway stations, on almost a daily basis. It’s something I haven’t seen in newspapers before, or not at this frequency at least.
  • To drastically change from that morbid point previously, the caramel popcorn here is one of the greatest I’ve had. Inox in Bangalore serves the best. The Inox here serves a mean one.
  • Speaking of which (and by which, I mean food), come summer and every single neighbourhood is dotted with at least three ice cream carts – one from Walls, one from Mother Dairy and one from Cream Bell. We even have a separate cart for Magnum. They come in by early evening and stay up till about 11pm and leave when everyone else wraps up. It’s a big thing to walk up or drive to these carts when you feel like an ice cream treat.

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While I am picking up the nuances of this city gradually, there is still a never ending list of things to observe and see. Therefore it goes without saying that this learning will continue and has a long way to go.

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