New Delhi of Old India

a car sails through waterlogged delhi road

A car sails through waterlogged Delhi road

It was not surprising when the company that build $3 billion terminal at New Delhi’s international airport recently decided postpone the beginning of the operation of the landmark building by at least two weeks because of lack of “confidence”. After all this is India, the land of contrasts and paradoxes that is being touted as the next big thing on the world stage. The construction of such a lavish structure at the airport is a sure sign of India’s arrival but the reported lack of confidence is the proof that India still is very much a third world country that has millions of hungry beggars roaming on the streets. Contrast. Paradox.

Delhi’s Metro Rail is a $4 billion (and counting) mass transit system that provides excellent service on the world class infrastructure. More than a million passengers ride in the metro daily. So it’s not really surprising to see the large crowds waiting for the train at the Metro stations. Sometimes the crowds get so large, even by Indian standards, that passengers have to struggle hard to enter inside. Pushing, screaming, pulling, swearing and yelling are parts of the process. Some days are more animated than others. Like today (yesterday actually- Monday 12 July). The sudden downpour meant unexpected surge in the Metro ridership. The rush  resulted in delaying of the Metro service.

I got off at Pragati Maidan station (had boarded in at Rajeev Chowk- Connaught Place). As I came to the main exit gate of the station I saw a large group of passengers waiting for the rain to subside. Many of them were also taking off their shoes and socks and pulling their trousers up to their thighs. The road outside was completely submerged. A large pond had been created outside and water was threatening to enter inside the Metro station.

Like many others I took off my shoes and sailed through the pond to reach the parking lot. No, I didn’t complain because the Metro service alone was intimidating enough for me, my country can’t even imagine to have one right now. At the same time, while stepping into the water, I realized that India has a looooooong way to go to become a world player that some in Delhi think their country has already become.

I live in Jangpura Extension which is five kilometers away from Pragati Maidan Metro station. A car ride on that five kilometers stretch last evening felt like walking on the moon (which I suppose wasn’t a cakewalk). The road was heavily waterlogged. Was I driving on the road or boating in Phewa taal? Imagine being stranded in the middle of the road during a downpour because the car you are in breaks down or comes to an halt because water gets into exhaust or something. I was lucky as I arrived home without incident but I saw many folks who were not so lucky. They were trying to fix their cars or autos.

The roads of the city that is frantically preparing to host one of the world’s largest sporting events (the Commonwealth Games) become canals in a matter of an hour. Again I didn’t complain because my city, Kathmandu, is no different during summer. In fact, it becomes worse as roads there are not as wide as they are in Delhi, there are no flyovers like Delhi has and Kathmandu is not even dreaming of building entirely elevated road like Delhi is almost done with constructing (the 5 km elevated road connects the Games village to the Nehru Stadium near Jangpura). Only that Kathmandu is not blowing the Vuvuzela of new so called superpowerdom. Anyway, that was another paradox that I saw in Delhi. The New Delhi of same old India.

Nehru Place Metro Station

Delhi Metro is rapidly expanding its network. A station being constructed in Nehru Place.

New face of New Delhi

Highrise buildings of Delhi. Nehru Place.

This post was composed in an iPhone. Photos were taken by the same iPhone.

2 thoughts on “New Delhi of Old India

  1. Someone

    If my understanding of what I’ve read about Indian history is correct, then, in a nutshell… it’s never going to be a super-power. Not the way it is. Not in the way as understood by the west and by east Asia.

    It’s so complex I don’t where to begin, which means I’m going to have to throw it all out in parts, and trust the readers to sort it out.

    Where to begin…

    India is vastly more ancient than you think. People think that Australian Aborigines plus a few tiny tribes hidden in the interior of the Philippines are the worlds most ancient people, but in fact, in the north to north-west parts of India are people of a genetic style going back 70,000 years… all the way back to the time of the Australian Aborigines.

    It means that some ancient people were able to find a place to settle down and hold on regardless of how the world was changing around them.

    In a crazy sense, it’s like how evolution stopped the development of plants.

    If one studies the DNA of plants versus animals, one finds that plant-cells are in fact vastly superior in genetic organization to animal cells, such that plants could stop evolving at the point where they were multi-cellular and capable of reaching up as trees toward the sun to eat light, whereas non-photosynthetic animal cells had to keep bumbling around as beasts eating plant cells in order to survive, leading to us.

    How embarrassing., and it’s one of those mysteries that Heavenly Father is withholding until we can get it. It might have something to do with answering the question Moses asked from whence He came, but we shall not fret ourselves about something we cannot answer now, so much as we’d like to…

    In a nutshell, it’s possible that in their way, Indians have sorted out through millenia a way to be peaceful with each other in order to live and love and have kids that they feel no need to build global empire.

    It’s said that people in Bombay (yeah I know it’s now called Mumbai, but half the south-Asians I’ve talked to still prefer Bombay) can walk out onto a street and see everything from the poorest beggars to the richest forms of super-wealth, and they have establish a form of manners to coexist.

    It is a place so self-sufficient in food that insolong as people can eat, nobody’s going to bug each other.

    It is self-sufficient in food because it is rich land on the equator, and yes they’ve had some famines (which the US bailed them out of in the 60’s) but they always used to have famines.

    I means they won’t feel a need to reach out as a global super-power. It means they will feel a need to defend themselves.

    Some will want to leave… just like how some want to leave China and Japan… just like how some wanted to leave Europe in order to think with logic outside the gum-holes hammered down by their stupid tyrannies, but most are happy as long as they can eat within the status-quo.

    So… as long as India can feed itself, history indicates it has zero motivation to become a super-power.

    What is a super-power?

    Something with super-consumption? A super-pig?

    Super-power is a super-pig capable of hitting back if anyone has a problem with it.

    Yes we know that the USA is the quintessential modern super-pig capable of hitting back, but who else?

    Hmm… there’s France, well rich enough with trade to its former colonies and able to enforce its nuclear position… although it’s getting bitten with riots by being too nice to immigrants and should just do some economic reconstruction of north-Africa and send those bratty little rebels back to build up a proper north-African civilization of their own.

    Hmm… there’s Britain… which built up an empire spanning 1/4rth the surface area of the land-surface… and…

    Oooh… it was all paid for by its occupation of India.

    Yes ladies and gentlemen, India was Britain’s only profitable colony. All the rest of the British Empire was paid for by profits drawn from India. Is India a rich place?!?

    Yet England was able to do that with only 300,000 Brits living there… against hundreds of millions of others. All England had to do was set them against each other, and from that, Britain got a gold-mine to build an empire.

    My head swims, so I’m going to try to explicit.

    Imagine you have some cottage cheeze that cannot be glumped into a brick of cheeze. Imagine you have a sub-planet where if they had a world of their own they’d spread out to form 200 nations, each and every one of which is competitive with the other.

    Imagine you’re Chinese with only four subcultures, compared to India with over 200 subcultures, all of whom speak a different language and/or dialect, all of whom are taught to hate each other just for something to do, the same way Serbs are taught to hate Croats in Jugoslavia even though they don’t really… they just need something to do with their boring lives.

    Imagine you’re China knowing how to show the world that it can deliver a nuke anywhere by doing a planet-circling space-astronautic flight over the world in order to properly and quite politely say it can deliver a nuke anywhere while India is still hell-bent on making sure with its missiles that ‘stanis are not getting in.

    The nut-shell is that India has the resource and potential to be a super-power, but it’s just so darn’d at peace with its ability to support itself with the dimmest that Indians seeing higher ways go nuts and scream to be allowed to move to the new world.

    It is able to feed itself well enough that the women with their interest in kids allow their guys to be idiots.

    A solution would be to have a pipeline to another planet where they get to spread out and form 200 nations.

    As it is, they have to settle on English as their only common language.

    On the other hand, like the Hellenic’s of ancient Greece, they’d identify with each other yet target all outsiders as… outsiders.

    The answer is… they are not going to become a superpower.

    Tragic. Such a lack of heartfelt leadership.

    They think they’ve got the telephone answering system going, but in fact that’s being moved to the Philippines, because Philippines don’t’ have that @#$%ing annoying accent.

    The answer is… hmm… India is so self-introspective that it is on top of one of the richest parts of the planet, and it’s in charge of jerks.

    That’s what happened to Argentina.

    At the turn of the 19th century Argentina was the most advanced nation in the new world. They were the first ones to figure out how to use finger prints.

    Then they got hung up with same selfish “I am the king of my vineyard” thing that collapse all previous civilizations, so if you hear about Warren Betty giving up 99% of his wealth so he only has 500,000 million to live on, I recommend putting up a guard, and let’s work on the agriculture.

    The answer is… south-Asians are so weird that east-Asians might have to hire some north Americans as consultants.

    The result will be… if south-Asians can be given some security in old age they’ll have less kids.

    Less kids means more resources to trade.

    Yes I know how Chinese hate south-Asians, and visa versa.

    I happen to be living in a part of the world with both the biggest south-Asian and east-Asian’s outside their native territory.

    East Asians are *way* more logical to do business with. I didn’t say easier. Their a******s are as big as while a******s.

    F**king south-Asians on the other hand like irrational brats.

    The solution is… we find a solar system wherein there are two planets. We transport India to one, and Pakistan to the other, and they get to hate each other.

    I the mean time… China and the USA have something to agree on.

    Let’s go back in time.

    Do you remember how after about the first century Rome kept paying money to Persia to stop attack?

    Do you remember how Persia kept spending that money on Indian spices?

    Do you remember how when Britain sailed over there, they were able to so easily out-psych those peasants?

    Do you remember how from there Britain was so able to pay for the cost of its empire from there?

    My head swims.

    Okay… I got an idea… and I think only Russians and Chinese could respect this.

    India is so rich yet too retardationly hooked to an ancient way of thinking that you’re going to make peace treaties with all the strong nations around you.

    You *could* have been one of the great nations…

    BUT… you’re life was so easy that you got lazy….

    SO…here’s what we do…

    I offer a temperate climate retreat for all the smart ones into north America, leaving all you dummys to become slaves of China and Russia.

    The problem is, my bureaucracy is as stupid as the way they let you let in your dumb cousins.

    So… here’s the solution India.

    Suppose you mathematical super-brains we know you are makes a super-cilvilization where you are.

    How from whatever civilization you came from did you deal with the issue of super-smart existing without corruption?

    Americans used to just kill them in their frontier days.

    How does one do that without cowboy days?

    Wow about just neutering the idiots?

    India is a super-rich part of the world crawling with people no more inspired to excel than did plants beyond their capacity to photosynthesize, except for the ones who fled out

    Okay… you wanna see if India can be a super-power?

    Let’s see it build up a space-orbital astronaut planetary orbital rocket capable of sailing a human around the planet and/or dropping a nuke on anyone.


  2. marjo

    Everybody knows their own country and has no delusions about that…it takes a foreigner, a journalist to see the beauty in what we no longer believed in. My feeling about Nepal must be like this, I see the purity and the innocence of the people, and they are sooo appreciative and quite above the money though we fear it is all about having to keep giving.



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