Inside New Delhi

Paharganj, a globetrotter district in New Delhi

Delhi is a big behemoth. The poverty and the wealth is visible every step you take. Actually, there is more of that poverty. Sites such as Howri Bazaar can be regarded as the ultimate representation of disorder. Merchants engage in sale of everything I can think of. The place is being passed by a humongous crowds of people making it absolutely chaotic.

The different point of view. We take a long walk towards the government buildings. The whole area is surrounded by perfectly trimmed green lawns. Almost all the government cars are pretty looking Ambassador vehicles, originally produced in India by Hindustan Motors. Looking at the whole set of buildings and its vicinity you can see where the taxpayer money is being spent.

We get to know a taxi driver, a friendly Sigh, who for cheap shows us around with his Ambasador. We visit the temples of different religions present in India. In the main hall of a Catholic church the only thing hanging on a wall is an image of the Polish pope.

Cleaning up after the Diwali celebration

Taxi driver urges us to visit two souvenir shops. This is a common scam, as taxi drivers get a fixed commission on every fare-made purchase (that is why our taxi is so cheap). Despite the apparent pressure, we are able to deftly avoid the purchase.

People plaiting wreaths of colorful flowers draw my attention. This is a traditional part of preparations for the annual festival of Diwali.

Our hotel room is incredibly hot and stuffy. I am so much tired that as I lay on my unmade bed I instantly doze off. After several hours loud fireworks outside wake me up. A psychedelic fan above my bed dims the light making a cracking sound with every single revolution. Lying on my back fatigued I’m listless. I breathe in moist air, listen to the sounds from outside and get nearly mesmerized by the ceiling fan. That is my Diwali festival celebration.

Making yourself home in the big capital

Preparing for Diwali festival

The next time in Delhi everything goes smoothly. We go to Paharganj to visit a friend working at Golden Cafe. We arrange a room in Star Palace hotel by the main promenade and take a rickshaw to Ramila Grounds. This place looks as if a major battle has just ended here and right before our visit a tornado passed that way. It’s basically a deserted and forgotten square. Children play cricket, cows and goats are grazing and handicapped homeless people beg jumping on their only leg. Across the street Delhi Stock Exchange is located. The two contrasting worlds which we see in this century.

I get an idea to visit the Delhi Stock Exchange. The negotiations with the security regarding visiting trading floor are futile. It turns out that the trading floor is located in another part of city. With my strong persistency I arrange a meeting with an official for a pretext of obtaining materials for my scientific work (which I actually do mean).

Government buildings in New Delhi

“No problem, the meeting will take place” – I’m assured by the security worker – “All you have to do is wait half an hour, sir”. I walk around the stock exchange building. Chickens and goats run around the yard and right next to it there are several lawyers seated in desksĀ  attentively typing on their typewriters out on fresh air. This is a law firm.

I enter the stock exchange building and take the elevator to the second floor. Just a moment before the meeting. As it turns out, right now I’m in the office of the President of the Stock Exchange. The exchange’s most influential person is right in front of me. The president is very pleased with my visit and the conversation is quite an interesting one. I learn a lot about local financial markets and the president asks me about Polish stock exchange. He is a very nice Sikh, a follower of religion, whose one of the doctrines is the desire to acquire more knowledge.

The president uses the notion of exchange demutualization. He talks about the problems and prospects, which he sees for the coming years. To thank for the conversation he hands in an elegant notebook and a Parker pen.

This is our last stroll through the Main Bazaar in Paharganj. After the dinner at Golden Cafe we say good bye to our friend exchanging symbolic gifts.

New Delhi serves as a traveling hub

Indian highligths

  • sometimes 10 minutes after placing an order in restaurant a waiter comes back to let you know, that he did not remember what you have ordered
  • sharing a table at the restaurant in half with random people is a usual thing. Since only two people eat at a four-table, two places are free
  • smog in the capital makes the rain in Delhi to resemble mud falling from the sky
  • in India there is a left-hand traffic (the former British colony)
  • at the airport in New Delhi there is an complete mess, even three hours can sometimes be not enough
  • as mentioned above, an absent-minded airport worker makes my luggage go around the world to reach me again after 3 months!

November 2007