Monday, December 20, 2010

A day in Delhi

Have you ever sat back and thought about the events of 24 hrs in particular? Most of the time a lot more happens than it seems like at first. This was especially true for my latest day in Delhi. I start with Palika Bazaar...

I don't think I have ever been in or witnessed something quite like Palika Bazaar. There is a fairly main part of New Delhi named Cannaught Place. It is an outdoor shopping area, featuring stores similar to what you would expect to find in a high end mall. The buildings themselves feature massive columns and are painted a standout white. At the center of Cannaught Place is a park, with a driving circle surrounding it and roads branching off that then run disect the area like the spokes of a wheel. The park itself is actually beautiful, looking out to several skyline-type views of the city.

Luckily they also post rules to the park to avoid any confusion...

But underneath this inner circle lies the mayhem known as Palika Bazaar.

The Bazaar is like nothing else, a maze of underground hallways packed to the brim with people and products. Each pathway seems to lead to another identical area. Imagine a maze of circles, only the circles aren't actually circles but curved parts, and then add in the perpendicular sections and multiple levels. It's like finding your way through a foreign forest at night while drunk.

To make things worse there is seemingly an endless amount of things that are being sold, yet the shops seem to repeat themselves. For example, say you use a jeans booth as a starting point for where you are going. There are literally dozens and dozens of these shops. Everything (products, stores, and people) seems to repeat.

But no matter where you end up there are similar sights and sounds that the bazaar offers.

vendor - "hello friend. you want flash drive?"
vendor - "hello friend, you like watches? good price!"
me - "no thank you"
vendor - "OK, you want flash drive?"
vendor - "hello. socks. cheap price bro"
me - "no thanks"
vendor - "flash drive. 4 gig?"

The other interesting thing was the high volume of offers for a hoodie with a guy flipping the bird. I'm not sure if it is because English is not the primary/only language, but it seems "very cool" to have a fuck you design.

And they make sure to cater to different styles so that every sophisticated man can tel others fuck you in a way that suits him...

Anyways, you get the idea. The other interesting thing about it is that everything is to be bartered for. If the price stated is Rs 2,000, it means you should be paying about Rs 400. To make the original offer seem great the salesman (and each one of them there does this) pulls out a calculator. The first price he punches in is what most stores charge for the item. Then he punches in their price. Then he punches in a discount "just for you" - somewhere from 10% to 25% off. That third price is the BEGINNING of the barter. I've never more wanted to buy something with a price tag on it.

I was able to make what I thought to be a pretty good bargain for some jeans, only to get them home and realize that they weren't even close to fitting. It was partially that the sizes were inaccurate, and partially that in the states jean sizes are larger than anywhere in the world. In one moment I was able to feel incredibly ripped off and overweight. Amazing what shopping will do.

But not all of the city/country is so hectic. The next morning I decided to take a trip to see the sights. I went by rickshaw to the Red Fort.

It cost me Rs 60, and believe you me when I say that that kid worked his hind off for $1.50

Instead of trying to take a cab to Lotus Temple I tried the metro train, which was unbelievable. Clean, fast, quick, quiet, modern - it puts Chicago's El. to shame. I thought it humorous that the signs were so polite (as many people here are not). One of them even asked "please" three separate times. As I tried to take a picture of it

a man started yelling at me in Hindi. When I said I did not understand, another man, seated across from me and obviously agitated as well, barked that I was not allowed to take pictures on the train. Never in my life has irony seemed so thick.

The temple was breathtaking...

The entire area was a refuge of sorts from the city. It was clean and tranquil, and I can honestly say I was amazed to not hear a horn! It never ceases to amaze me how much we have that we don't appreciated, and how much we lack that we don't miss.

As I sat in the metro on my way back to New Delhi I began to notice how many women rode the train. In fact, there were only women on the train. Where had all of the men gone? Then it dawned on me that they probably gave up their seats to the female riders. Since the train was almost full I began to prepare to do the same, but did not get up as all of the women in my car had seats. As I sat there a woman politely leaned over to me and informed me that I was riding in the ladies car.

Random things running through my head: You know you've been in India long enough when you're cab driver DOESN'T use his horn and this angers you... And why is it OK for the police to do strange things? I was in a tuktuk (motor rickshaw) when a policeman ordered the cab over, then jumped in front and hitched a ride with us.

What really amazed me was that the driver continued to drive like an asshole; maybe that's the law?


  1. Another laughing out loud post Kyle!!! this is hysterical - can't wait to see photos that go along with it. I loved your descriptions and observations --- You may have been ripped off (as in jeans) but you DEFINITELY are not over-weight :-)

    S-o-o-o - so much to tell and talk about ---- can't wait to hear more about your adventures!

    Love you more!


  2. Kyle, this is your best post ever! You should seriously think about continuing your blog once you're back.

    Safe travels - so sorry we won't see you at Christmas :-(

  3. Too funny. My head is spinning trying to image the maze you had to navigate while shopping at the Bazaar. I guess there is a lot to be said for having change rooms!!! I look forward to seeing your pictures. Take care and be safe. All my love.

  4. Babs and Pops, Great blog, you amaze me. Barb thinks its hysterical, she loves it. Me, I'm just learning what a wonderful person you are

  5. It's even BETTER with all the accompanying pictures! What adventures!!!!!!!!

    Love you more! xoxo