New Delhi Archives

January 28, 2007

Calcutta To Delhi

Well, by light of day, Calcutta was not quite the Dantean vision I had seen the night before. The city was still pretty unimpressive, but not quite a circle of hell. And there was a bit of striking rural scenery to be had en route to the airport.

The domestic terminal at Calcutta was so crowded there was no place to sit once I checked in and cleared security. My flight was late and was slowed by strong head winds, so I arrived in Delhi about two hours behind scheduled. Fortunately, my hotel had someone there to meet me and transport me into the city. My initial view of the place was that while it's not quite modern by Western standards, it's much better than what I saw on a similar drive into Calcutta.

Upon arrival at my hotel in the Karol Bagh section of New Delhi, I was told it was overbooked but that they could accommodate me at another property just around the corner. The manager threw in a free dinner and breakfast, and at that point I was happy just to have a place to crash, so I told him it would be no problem. He told me to move back to the main hotel in the morning.

January 29, 2007

The Wire


Getting used DVDs on is often a great deal. I picked up the first two seasons of the critically-acclaimed series The Wire a few months back. I finally started watching the first episodes on the plane last night and in bed this morning. Good stuff. And supposedly it gets a lot better in seasons to come.

Song Of The Day #29

Carly Simon explained the context of this song once at I concert I attended in Hartford (Carly and Hall & Oates shared billing at The Meadows about a decade ago). It is about one of the Eastern gurus she worked with back in the early 1970s. The song is called "Haven't Got Time For The Pain."

Carly Simon - Reflections - Carly Simon's Greatest Hits - Haven't Got Time for the Pain

A Chorus Of Horns

I had breakfast on the rooftop of my hotel, which provided a fine vantage point to observe just how horrible the air quality is here. The nonstop blaring of horns--which would have bothered me all night if I were a light sleeper--is something one gets used to, I guess. I got to read all about Federer's 10th Slam title victory--most of which I missed while travelling--in the local papers over breakfast.


I finally got an adapter from the hotel so I could recharge the iBook and my iPod. None of the plugs I brought with me fit the sockets here--not even the one from South Africa, which I thought would do the trick. After a few false starts, I got the wireless Internet connection working as well, so I am back in business on the technical side of things.

Connaught Place

I took the Metro down to Connaught Place late this afternoon to check out the city center. It's nice enough--certainly cleaner and more presentable than Karol Bagh, where I am staying--but not really anywhere close to a place like Singapore or even Bangkok. Hard to believe India is being touted as the next big economic power along with China; from my vantage point, it seems there is still a long way to go here.

January 30, 2007

Song Of The Day #30

Alanis Morissette, "You Learn."

Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill - You Learn

To Agra By Rail

I actually have booked two hotel rooms tonight in two different cities. I am keeping most of my stuff--including the iBook--here in New Delhi, but I am taking a late afternoon train to Agra (almost a four-hour trip) and will stay at the Trident Hilton there. It's too much of a hassle to pack up all my gear and schlep it on the train, only to come back to the same hotel tomorrow night. So I am taking only what will fit in my knapsack. The object is a sunrise viewing of the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, my return train doesn't leave Agra until 6:50 p.m., so I'll have time to kill after the Taj.

January 31, 2007

Song Of The Day #31

A little California song from Tom Petty: "Free Fallin'" is its name!

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Full Moon Fever - Free Fallin'

An Architectural Wonder At Dawn


Got up early this morning to get to the Taj Mahal before sunrise. Though there was a bit of fog, as it burned off, I managed to take some photos in the morning light. No doubt the highlight of my time in India thus far.

Agra And Agro

Agra is where I spent last night and most of today. "Agro," on the other hand, is British slang for aggravation.

The city--town, really--of Agra was a pleasant excursion and seeing the Taj Mahal bright and early really made the trip worthwhile. My hotel was modern and comfortable and I spent most of the afternoon there reading and watching episodes of The Wire before I had to catch the train back to New Delhi.

Where the agro kicks in is the feeling that foreigners here are regarded an easy mark for unscrupulous taxi drivers and their associates. Case in point: when I got back to Delhi tonight--at another station in town than the main one I left from yesterday (which conveniently was on the Metro system)--coming off the platform an aggressive young man was pushing his taxi on me for a fare of 750 rupees. Sensing a rip-off, I was smart enough to fend him off (though he was relentless). He lowered his price nearly by half, to 400, as I walked toward the competition. Sure enough, when I found the pre-paid taxi stand, where rates in the city are standardized, the fare turned out to be 125 rupees (about $1.50)! Even in Agra, where the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers were unusually pleasant, they were always angling for more business with sight-seeing tours during the day. On the way to the train station, I had to endure the hard sell at two shops, mostly so my driver could pick up his modest commission for delivering a tourist; I came close to missing my train as a result (which would have been a disaster). It's a little hard to enjoy the travel when you have the sense you're thought of as a target. (Of course add to this the beggars--many of whom are little children--who gravitate toward lighter-skinned visitors whenver a taxi stops in traffic.)

I've tried to be generous with tips, recognizing what I earn in a day may be more than some people here earn in a month. But it can be wearying to have everyone seemingly looking to part one from his money.

February 1, 2007

Song Of The Day #32

You want guitar power? Van Halen has it in "Panama."

Van Halen - 1984 - Panama

Bombay Dreams

About to head off to Mumbai (a.k.a. Bombay) for my last two days in India. My Monday night TV shows are only half downloaded, so hopefully I'll have Internet access there to finish that off. (Three of these shows are serial dramas--24, Heroes, and Prison Break--so I really want to get caught up on them.) Goodbye, Delhi!

About New Delhi

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