Friday, November 21, 2008

Will you Ride a Rickshaw?

Just saw an old picture in one of the magazines – Nehru and the Frontier Gandhi walking while Sardar Patel was moving along in a human-drawn rickshaw. I do not know if this photograph was intended to show that Patel was less “human” than Nehru. But there is one thing I definitely know, and this is something I discussed with a friend who landed in Delhi on the same flight as I did.

On our first day in the city we found that the easiest transportation from our house to the nearest Metro station was by cycle rickshaw. Do we allow ourselves this “inhuman” pleasure of letting one man pull our weight across a couple of kilometers, by rationalizing that this was the most eco-friendly method of moving in the city in these times of high oil prices? Or do we let ourselves be overtaken by the poignant pictures of Kolkotta’s rickshaw men as painted in the “City of Joy?”

Well, we decided to use cycle rickshaws, not just that day but whenever it was feasible, and for this reason – by using rickshaws we would be allowing a poor person to earn his livelihood honourably instead of pushing him to starvation or begging.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finding a Place to Stay

I am out looking for a place to stay. Someplace not far from a Metro station because my work can at times keep me at the office until 9 or 10, and the Metro seems to be a far more reliable and safe transport than anything else.

I can commute for about an hour one way, my body and mind can stand it. But I need a place with space – an extra bedroom for my son because he is now 16 and should be given his own space. I need a place where I don’t have to worry if the family is safe while I am away. I need a place where the urgent requirements of a morning – milk, bread, eggs, soap, toothpaste – are available within a 3 minute walk, and where these shops open by at least 6.30 in the morning.

I would prefer a place with lot of open spaces, trees, a park.

Is that too much to ask for in Delhi these days?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Delhi I Remember

The Delhi I remember is the Delhi of 1980-82. I would come for 10 or 15 days a year, and stay at a friend’s place in Rajouri Garden.
Those days Janakpuri was far out of Delhi, even Rajouri Garden was the outskirts. Today Delhi stretches way beyond these places.

What attracted me about Delhi – the things I remember now – was the open spaces. I had seen the places around Janpath, Cannaught Place, been on the roads in Chanakyapuri. The trees, the open spaces between buildings, the grandeur of the area near the Supreme Court and Rashtrapathi Bhavan – coming from a small town, I was quite impressed by our national capital.

I also remember the huge building with the emporia from all our states, each state having its own outlet. I was here to appear for the Civil Services interview twice – ( I didn’t make it into the final list). (The Civil Service was my only dream in those days, I did not know of any more professions than farming, teaching, law and medicine I think).

I am yet to make a trip to any of these places yet, first priority is a place to stay.