First full day in New Delhi

My partner’s cousin Hitha, a major force in the blogosphere – check out her blog,Hitha On The Go is getting married in India and I am here with my family for the ceremony. Hitha’s wedding is in two weeks and we travelling around India before we go to Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh and stay with family.

As soon as the plane landed last night I could smell India. I was here 15 years ago and one of my lasting memories is of the smells. There is a haze that permeates the air here and on the ride to the hotel – you can see some of the reasons: Little fires at the roadside to keep folks warm through the night. December is the cold season and people really bundle up.

This is my first time in Delhi. The other time I was in India I stayed with my wife’s family in Andhra Pradesh, which is more to the south. Delhi recently hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games and one can see the evidence of this with the posters throughout the city.

Even with the haze, the air quality is much better than 15 years ago. I am told that this is result of the use of compressed natural gas for a substantial portion of their vehicles (including auto-rickshaws). Delhi also has a new fleet of articulated buses that have both AC version and non-AC versions. Also there is the new Metro Rails, which is a subway system.

My last experience of traffic in India was an impression of total chaos. It just seemed so dangerous and made no sense at all. This time my impressions of the traffic are not nearly as overwhelming and it seemed to flow pretty well. Still, there is a lot of activity on the road to think about and at times the lines on the road and the stop signals appeared to be “optional”!

Traffic seems to flow from a complicated system of accommodation. Drives beep their horns when they want by or when another drive is getting too close, to signal a left or right turn. I think there are a lot of other deep messages in the horns because it is constant, but interestingly, it does not have the feel of anger that using your horn in Vancouver often implies. It’s more like a spoken language of the road here. Drivers don’t get all bent out of shape here with all of the maneuvering and that’s why it seems to work.

The city is very lush with mature trees everywhere. The history is incredible and diverse. The sights we saw today were breathtaking and some of the places were built as early as the 5th century AD during the Mughal empires. It was Sunday and the places were full of people, mostly locals enjoying their beautiful city.

The misery of India is just one intersection away where someone is holding their limp child for you to inspect with the doctor’s bill pleading for alms or little kids dancing in traffic for donations.

Here are the some of the photos from my first day in Delhi:
brent’s flickr

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