Friday, July 22, 2005

Travelogue I (Delhi)

Its seldom that I travel far away from home all alone. I have been to Delhi before many a times, but this time, it was different. Travelling 24 hours in a train alone is a difficult task - and the difficulty increases if people like us start travelling in air-conditioned compartments! We middle-class people constituting the majority of Indian population are much more comfortable in the familiar and 'active' environment of sleeper 3-tier coaches with beggars and vendors visiting frequently.

Anyway, I stepped down at New Delhi Railway station and took an auto-rickshaw straight to Noida. I have been here after almost 3 years, so changes in a metropolis are quite natural. But the pace at which Delhi has changed appears remarkable. With flyovers constructed at almost every crossroad, traffic congestion has been substantially reduced, not to mention the extra beauty added to the city. The pollution scenario has been greatly improved as well - thanks to the CNG changeover. The air here is far better than the streets of Dhanbad.

Its been four days since I am here. I met one of my seniors yesterday who is in Noida itself. He passed out from ISM just 3 months back but it seemed like we were meeting after almost an year. Working hard in his software firm, his incessant schedules gave me a fair idea of how hard life is going to get once I am out of this heavenly abode called ISM.

I have been travelling much in this place since last 3 days ('much' is the only term I can use based on my Dhanbad and Jamshedpur reference frames) to get a visa approval. The DTC buses, all crowded at the peak 9 O' Clock time were the only option and I sincerely wished metros should have existed in South Delhi as well. People here are more friendly than one can expect, everybody including the conductor can strike out nice conversations even while standing in the buses and it didn't feel much bad to me being cramped altogether with my file in hand and my tie around my neck - the ready-for-the-interview posture.

If you lack sufficient walking capabilities, you are going to have a difficult time here. I have a nice habit of long walks and it wasn't much difficult when I got the most common reply of 'paas mein hi hai' to anywhere I asked for, be it a place 4 Km away. The longest one became real tiresome, though, a full circle around the Niti Marg searching for the Czech Embassy during the most hot-and-humid climate imaginable. It felt as if I had travelled across the entire globe (I walked past the embassies of almost anywhere) minus my destination - the Czech Republic. I have always suffered from this peculiar problem in these so-called posh areas - you can never get anything which can be qualified as a public transport, and you have to finally rely only upon your feet. This area didn't even have the ubiquitous water-vendors of Delhi to offer me a quench.

After much difficulty with that guy called Mr. Store (the difficulty was three fold - sitting in that ultracool chamber which felt like a corpse house, probably trying to give a feel of the Czech climate; understanding his entirely different accent; and finally convincing him why this conference was important to me) my visa was approved and its now certain that I would finally set foot on a winged carrier which would take me outside the realm of this country on the 24th.

The difficulties didn't end, though. I had been desperately searching for some woolen garments since yesterday and after much wandering to places like Ansal Plaza and Patel Nagar, I finally resorted to good old Atta of Noida to manage a single piece of a Levis jacket in a single store. A sleek 4.1 Mega pixel Sony cybershot digital camera is the latest substraction from my 'to-have' list, which I also bought from this market.

The stage is finally set, for, tomorrow would be the take-off towards my experience of a lifetime.

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