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…


Molly said...

Hi Suzanne, I love getting your impressions of what has changed, especially about the dearth of cows and surplus of monkeys! I saw your dad yesterday at the street fair and so knew you were ok after the bombs in Delhi. Molly

Ravi Ragahvan said...

As for cows, come to Gurgaon, we still have too many over here.