Monday, September 29, 2008

Cool Ads in Delhi

These two ads are from the "I'm not yesterday" campaign for Mail Today a new daily newspaper in Delhi. They are very interesting because of the way they challenge gender roles and definitions of beauty in India. They are all over the city, and people (in advertising and academic circles at least) have been talking about them, and how they show a "new" India or the India many Indians desire.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Canadians, Democrats, and Amritsar

So this week was a little intense. I will do my best to go through the major events quickly and effectively.
Last Sunday Michele and I had dinner at the Canadian Embassy with our new wonderful Canadian friends there. It was a beautiful night, with wonderful people, and very cheap beer and good beef. In other words very Canadian and not very Indian, but very fun. We met a reporter from the Toronto Star, someone from the World Bank, and many other Ex-pat Delhites.
Then on Tuesday, Michele and I went to a rally for Democrats Abroad (which we are) were we met Americans who are also Pro-Obama. There was a lot of talk of how to vote from abroad and what we can do to support the campaign while we are here in India. The head of Obama's campaigning for Americans Abroad also spoke about what is currently going on in the US and for the campaign and how Obama cares for Americans abroad. All very exciting, we are hoping to meet up with our new Democratic friends again for Debate watching parties.
Lastly on Friday, Michele, Aditi and I headed to Amritsar to visit our fellow Fulbrighter and friend Jaspreet, and tour the Golden Temple (the holiest temple for Sikhs), go to the Indian-Pakistan border and cheer on the Indian side. This was a little crazy and silly, but an interesting take on Nation building and Nationalism building. Lets have pride in India, people! Was the message of the evening. We also eat wonderful Punjabi food (nan and lentils). After a very, very long train ride back to Delhi, I am back and have to go prepare for next week. So I will put pictures up soon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Unwrapping a Tiffin

For most dinners every night, Michele and I get Tiffins. Cooked by a neighbor of ours, tiffins are traditional Indian meals in a series of metal containers and in a thermos, served to stay warm and good.
1) Open the thermos2) Take out and open the tiffin
3) Open the containers
4) Eat dinner!

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Day in My Life

So here is what I do each day, I though it might be interesting and good to know:
6:10 am: I get up and get dressed to go running

6:30: leave for the Saket Sports Complex

6:45: Get to the Saket Sports Complex track and run for about 30 minutes

7:20: leave track walk home, take a shower.

8:00: have breakfast with Michele (my wonderful flatmate). I usually have eggs with leftovers from the night before or I have oatmeal.

9:10: leave for Hindi class. I take an auto rickshaw to Malviya Nagar where my classes are. It costs between 20 and 25 rupees to get there.

9:30: Hindi class begins. I spend 4 hours talking in Hindi, writing in Hindi, reading Hindi, and learning new grammar. Its actually a lot of work and I am really tired at the end of it.

1:40: leave Hindi class. Now I do one of three things. 1) go home and work on Hindi homework, write emails to contacts, and read things I need to read. 2) go to Gurgaon to meet ad agencies and contacts. I take a taxi there which is fun but expensive. or 3) go to the University of Delhi, School of Economics, Dept of Sociology to do some research or listen to a lecture there. Then I get to take the Delhi Metro which is always fun.

5-6:00: I get home from wherever I was if I was not already home, and finish emails, Hindi homework etc.

7:30/8:00: Get food from my neighbor. A women a few houses down from where I am staying make tiffins (meals in a tiffin or travel case) for people in the neighborhood for about 45 rupees each. Every night I get warm and really good dahl, subzi (a vegetable or vegetables), rice and rotis. So that is my dinner and often some of my breakfast too.

8:00: take a shower and eat my dinner.

10:00: I am usually tired and go to bead, on the early side.

Thats my weekdays here in Delhi. Its a lot to do, but it is usually good.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Some things, unfortunately, do not change

So you may or may not have heard that there have been a series of bombings in Delhi. I am happy to report that myself and my friends are all safe and well. Unfortunately, terrorism has not changed from the last time I was here, whether in Delhi or anywhere else in the world. Thank you all for your concern.
May peace prevail and stay safe,

Friday, September 12, 2008

Change and… Change in India

So I have gotten a lot of questions about what changes I have seen in India and in Delhi since my last extended stay in 2005-2006. It’s been a few weeks so I now feel qualified to give an answer:

Then: Cows, cows everywhere, stopping traffic, eating garbage, pooping
Now: Where have all the cows gone?, long time passing, where have all the cows gone?, long time ago. The answer is: they have been moved out of Delhi. There has been an effort by the Delhi government to get the cows out of Delhi, especially with the new Metro and the upcoming Commonwealth games, the government is trying to get Delhi ready, which means… no cows… well, less cows. I have seen some cows, but I can count the number of times on my hands and they seem to only be around on weekends.

Then: No monkeys in Delhi
Now: Monkeys in Delhi. There are no cows… but there are monkeys, at least in my new neighborhood of Saket, they really like the park across the street and our landlady’s mango tree, and they’re meaner then cows. I sow one try to steel a guy’s bananas as he walked down the street.

Then: Traffic is terrible and crazy.
Now: Traffic is STILL terrible and crazy.

Then: The Metro was really, really new and usually empty.
Now: The Metro is still new, in the process of being finished (which is not helping traffic because there is construction everywhere) and will eventually reach South Delhi. Also (and more importantly) the metro is now very crowded. I ride the metro every week to the University of Delhi, School of Economics where I am affiliated, and it is crowded (like New York) except that people in Delhi have no idea how to ride a metro and start literally pushing people before the doors open to get out at the busier stations…um… you can’t go anywhere until the doors open. But at least people are using this clean, safe, good for the environment and cheep form of transit. I can’t wait until the whole thing is done, even if from a design perspective, it’s not that interesting.

Then: My position in life’s hierarchy was low. I was a young, unmarried, white women and an anonymous student. I had now clout and no respect.
Now: I am a Fulbright researcher and I am associated with the Delhi School of Economics (a top school), which gives me more clout and gets me into more things, helps my research and academically is great! I also speak way better Hindi, which helps with Rickshaw walas and anyone else trying to bother me. I am also a calmer person, which is always nice.

Then: Conservative city, and conservative dress for women and men.
Now: Still conservative, but there are many more tank tops on the street and some (Indian) men in shorts. Maybe in a few years I can wear a tank top here too (or maybe not), its still good to attract less attention.

Then: The movie to see was Dus (10).
Now: The movie to see is Singh is Kinngh.

Then: No malls in Delhi.
Now: There are malls in Delhi, including one very close to where I live.

Then: You always needed to carry a lot of change in your bag so that you could pay rickshaw walas and taxi walas the correct amount and not get screwed over.
Now: You still need change…

Pictures of Gurgaon

This place is full of space age skyscrapers in the desert, with bad roads.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Mallrats in New Delhi

In a city where most people live on a dollar a day or less, finding the very wealthy is proving to be easy, thanks to the CityWalk Mall in Saket. A very large Mall full of European and American stores, a large multi-screen movie theater (we saw Wall-E) and a big and expensive food court. What more could any home sick American or wealthy Delhiete want? Forget the fact that my paid-in-rupees salery could never suport a shoping spree at the mall, the fact that it looks like I am in the USA is exciting enough. Plus the ads are amazing and the Air Conditioning is wonderful. And ofcourse a mall in Delhi could not be complete without begger children outside and guards and metal detectors to pass through to get inside. If I every want to forget where I am, I know where to go. Although the whole thing felt a bit strange, it was also facinating.