Streets of Delhi

abundance (noun): a very large quantity of something

That was the first thing that struck me as we drove around the city. Nothing was quite in moderation.

Congestion, poverty, pollution, heat and colours.

People were either buying a lot or a lot were not buying.

A lot of curious stares.

Then I thought, perhaps “in moderation” suggests a kind of average condition and the average rarely gets noticed in the presence of extremes.

At this open air bazaar, I caught a colourful glimpse of bustling New Delhi. Tourists were passing through, families and groups of friends shopping, locals trying to make a living, illegal peddlers dodging the police, people having an evening snack before dinner, it was so crowded yet everyone was in harmony.

I’m not sure of the exact location. I would describe this place like Chatuchak in Bangkok, but less extensive.

The were many stalls selling similar items but some seemed to do better than others and I’m guessing it has something to do with the word ‘sale’.

This lady was really endearing and kept trying to sell me the piece. I am very fond of hand-made items, but in India, I will always wonder if such items for sale are hand-made at the expense of cruel exploitation. Regardless of its source, it is undeniable that every hand-made piece will always come attached with some level of dedication.

I was talking to these two ladies in front and I noticed that the men behind all cast curious looks our way while enjoying their evening snack. It’s interesting because while I’m having all these questions in my head about them, they must be thinking the same about me!

I don’t know what is the right term to refer to these vehicles. Electric taxis? Our local guide told us that it’s not advisable to take these ones in Delhi because a lot of the drivers refuse to go by the meter and you have to argue with them to agree on a price.

Most of the public buses I see are somewhat battered in the front, with the mechanics often exposed. In fact, many cars on the road have dents or cracked bumpers. Drivers don’t quite keep to their lanes and everyone horns but no one really gets hostile or aggressive, which tells me that this is a way of life, rather than an exhibition of road rage.

Now in the midst of all that chaos, illegal peddlers would weave dangerously in between traffic to sell coconut, books, magazines, jewellery etc. How they manage to sell anything successfully baffles me, because despite the congestion, there still wasn’t enough time to make a selection, search for cash and make payment that didn’t require change.

Part of me was compelled to buy because I felt that these people were risking their lives just to earn a livelihood, but would making a purchase from them be an act of condoning this illegal trade?

25 responses to “Streets of Delhi

  1. those arent electric taxis. they are the indian tuk-tuks. at least dats wat my husband told me. he is north indian. =) its amazing how u cud find it in u to go there. i think i will ‘die’ over there. ive been married for a few years already but have not gone there to visit my husband’s side yet..=)

  2. Reading your blog and thus your thoughts, I’m constantly amazed by how we have the same thinkings and feelings about the trips but never voiced out to each other. 🙂 But you organise your thoughts well into words. I think I lack that talent.

    • Hi WT,

      I’m more comfortable laying out words in print, rather than in speech. It allows me time and space, as I type, to organise my thoughts.
      I probably didn’t have these thoughts then to be able to voice it out too 🙂

  3. Hi Joanne.

    I like reading your posts because your usage of english is appropriate and posts well-crafted. There is just something about the way you blog that keeps readers like me reading on to the very last bit.

    Keep it up!

  4. You have captured the essence of busy India in just one article. I love the way your description of the going-ons gives life to the words! I have been given many opportunities to visit India and it’s surrrounding areas but somehow, the thought of having to find a clean washroom puts a barrier in front of me.

  5. Wow – I found this post very culturally insensitive. I’m sure you wouldn’t think twice of any “slave labour” concerns if you were walking in a flea market somewhere in China, would you?

    • Hi MG,

      I wouldn’t consider your comment culturally sensitive either.

      And, in any case, stay tuned to this docu-travel show in September on Channel 8 to gain a better perspective on the context in which this India trip was made.

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. Hi Joanne, the vehicles that you refer to as ‘electric cars’ are actually called Auto Rickshaws in India, or Auto for short.

    I’m a Singaporean in Bangalore now, and while its true that a lot of them charge you an exorbitant prices and refuse to go by meter, I think you should try taking them at least once 😉 its quite an adventure and an experience in itself.

    • Ahhh yes yes Bonnie. That was the term everyone was using there!
      How is Bangalore? My mom was there once for work and she couldn’t get used to the food.
      Is the food in Bangalore similar to Delhi?

      • In most aspects Bangalore would be quite similar to Delhi. In fact, you managed to describe India in such an in-depth way that I couldn’t (Y) especially your latest post about how Indians can be happy with the little they have. That’s exactly how I feel after staying in India for a few months, and really taught me to be much more appreciative of things we have in Singapore and how lucky we are actually. That’s why I feel Singaporeans should really step out of their comfort zone, instead of just complaining non-stop back home. India isn’t as bad as everyone think it is.

        I haven’t been to Delhi yet so I can’t say, but I assuming it will be different since Bangalore is South India and Delhi is North India. South Indian food consists mainly of vegetarian food – lots of beans, daals etc. I’ve learn to get use to them 🙂

  7. Nice! i hv recently started to take note of your journal. its an enjoyable read i must say.

    i agree with Karen Tang here, although i hv not personally experienced it, i heard abt the toilet facility and all.. and its what that repels me from considering for my next travel destination.

    i wonder if its possible for you to share your “toilet experience” in India with us thru your journal here? lol! maybe a couple of photos if its not THAT revolting? who knows, maybe you may change our minds? ;p

    • Hi Yellowfins,

      Err…what toilet experience? I’ve seen men pee in public while standing by a wall, but I didn’t think it was appropriate to snap a photo. I don’t remember having any horrifying toilet experience, and if you let the toilet facility deter you from visiting this country, it will be a real pity. I’d have a few more entries, so stay tuned and see if that might change your mind. 🙂

    • Yellowfins,
      yeah, toilet facilities in India are not very good.

      But artistes suffered even more.

      When filming in a jungle location, they have to resist the urge of going to toilet because the schedules very tight.

      Artistes are used to comfortable toilet facilities in Singapore, have to endure the lack of proper toilet facilities while filming overseas.

      Therefore, we have to understand the hardships they suffered in the process of making filming a success.

  8. This is how my friend describe India (after he’s been there several time for business trips):

    “there’s order in the chaos”

  9. I chance upon your blog today and started reading your travel posts. I have always wanted to visit India but never had the guts to do it alone. I look forward to more posts from you on your adventure in Delhi.

  10. An Indian friend used to tell me, it’s either she honks persistently, or runs those people over :O) So yes, it is a way of life there!

  11. Any new shows you taking up? Am a bit worried since have not heard anything, although YHIM currently on, but any new shows? The movie not confirm yet right, so might as well do more to build a stronger foundation in singapore than overseas which is still uncertain. Unless you feel that experience is more important, otherwise I hope you will not become those who went overseas instead of staying and when returned, media comment : had to start all over again.

    • Hi J,

      Thanks for your concern, I am currently filming a travel show and that is why you don’t hear much of me. With regard to possible projects, my manager and I are always working closely so if there is nothing, there are reasons that we will not share publicly. Rest assured I have my feet firmly planted and hope you will stay tuned To my travel show when it airs in September.

  12. did u buy anything from the peddlar? Yeah, they are really risking their life 😦 Just to earn money.

  13. Hi Joanne, i chanced upon your blog a week ago, and read yr sharings on Turkey. Just this morning, your Delhi experience caught my eye on xinmsn and i have to say it was another enjoyable reading.
    I was curious and browse through yr earlier blogs in 2007 till 2009. There is a lot of depth in what you write now than before. It’s reflective and it shows a beautiful dimension of yourself. You write well and i am sure if you continue to share on the blog in a meaningful way, you will have a great influence on your fans and others who read about yr experiences. It has to be candid. No pretense.

    All the best in yr journey of growth. May you continue to blossom.

  14. Hey Joanne,

    That’s an auto rickshaw! (or at least that’s what I was told when I was in India) It’s really quite enjoyable, you should try taking it next time 🙂 I took it everywhere I went when I was in Hyderabad and Orissa.

    The people there are really warm and affectionate! Really miss this place. .

  15. I read the comments by Shurah in response to your blog. I am amazed at how prejudiced she can be, inspite of being married to a north indian.

    We live in such a diverse world, yet we dont want to explore, try new things etc, I wonder how she would feel if her husband would also be so prejudiced about her side of the family that lived in China!

  16. hello peh,
    I am one of your fan.I like you very much in The Little Nyonya.You look so beautiful and cute girl.I like to reading about your experiences in delhi. i will pray you look more success in future.

  17. I would buy from the peddlers. They are just earning a living to feed their families. Unless they are selling harmful stuff detrimental to our health. This trade is only illegal because the rich and powerful said it is. But who are we to debunk? 😛

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s