Reflections in New Delhi

People work for their money. Some probably harder than others.

My impression of India, based on what I see on the surface in Delhi, is that it doesn’t have the environmental and societal factors conducive for building the kind of life that we have frequently been exposed to as the “ideal”. You study hard, get a degree, find a good job, settle and start a family, and the cycle continues with the next generation. (It’s a preaching I grew up with since I was in primary school, so it was the only path I knew I had to take.) Yet I observed many happy faces and a vibrant community spirit when I took a walk around India Gate.

If what I see is a true reflection of what is, then what should I make of this so-called structure we have here in Singapore then?

We are blessed to have some sort of structure in place, where education, jobs and homes are not unattainable for most. All this supposedly makes it easier to build the “ideal” life, but how many people willingly pursue this path because they are happy and stay happy in the pursuit?

If living this “ideal” life will supposedly make us happy, then what seemed to be unfavorable factors discouraging the lack of an “ideal” life in one place, may not necessarily produce much different end results as favorable factors aiding the pursuit of an “ideal” life in another. It is a matter of perception and the value we place on what is important to us.

In Delhi, toys are uncomplicated. Balloons and toy birds in hand-made cages light up the faces of the children what a PSP would to a young nephew here. Which brings me back to a part of my childhood where we made our own “toys” like five stones and zero point. Such were the games that were fashionable then.

What was most endearing is the people’s curiosity of the world outside of their own. Random adults, young adults and kids would approach me to ask for a picture to be taken, even though it wasn’t always with their own cameras. I think being warm, friendly and unafraid to ask questions to strangers are precious qualities the locals have. Communicating excitedly in their own language with me even though I don’t know what they are talking about and neither do they know what I’m saying, is typically an embarrassing situation, but if they felt awkward, they showed none of it. It was really nice to be able to express and communicate without the inhibitions of perceived social decorum.

I was surprised to see matrimonials in the papers. It suggests that this is a society where people are not just looking for friends but partners for life. People actually want to get married. At least that is my understanding of the word “matrimonial”.

I couldn’t comprehend all of what was written because it wasn’t all in English, but one had a “H’some” as the opening word. As much as we say looks don’t matter in a partner, it is probably still what we base our first impressions on, amongst other things. This man obviously used it to his advantage. Or disadvantage maybe?

I’m curious though. How many people successfully find partners this way? What is like to get a response to your personal ad? Do people actually fear who they are going to meet? Do they start off as friends and see if it progresses to marriage or do parents and relatives all go along on the first date?

11 responses to “Reflections in New Delhi

  1. on the part abt marriage… i heard it from my colleagues in Mumbai that if they have no one in mind, their parents will be putting them into a match making session. Normally the families will sort of know each other.. as they can be relatives’s relatives or relatives friends..etc. So they will firstly exchange pics, then meet up in the house and have a chat.. within a week, they have to decide if they are ”ok” with each other. If yes, then they will get engaged immediately. So courtship starts after the engagement… and think marriage should follow in a few months.

  2. Always glad to see your smiles in the photos. Maybe a smile begets another and you will naturally find happy people attracted to you, and of course wanting to share a photo with you. I do find the means of finding a life time partner straightforward in India, but like the analogy of toys in India, they are less sophiscated in their approach; Quite unlike Singapore, which dating has become complicated and expensive and sometimes not guaranteed to bring a smile to our faces.

  3. Hello! I wonder if you remember my friend and I. We met you at far east today and I helped take a picture of you guys together! I stupidly rejected the opportunity to snap a picture together with you cos I was too shy at that moment. (I don’t know what I was thinking) After walking away, I regretted so badly but oh well:( I really like you a lot and you’re like my favourite singaporean actress so I hope you didn’t get the wrong impression! Hope I’ll get the opportunity to see you in person again and take a picture with you. Anyway, all the best in your future endeavours and God bless!

    • Thanks to all who helped fill in the blanks of my entry, it’s great to learn from you. Appreciate your time!


  4. Pingback: India, from the eyes of others « Shake your BONBON

  5. Hi

    The fact you found so many smiling faces in New Delhi because of the some awkward reasons too.

    Like the guy happily smiling and taking picture with you, but the real reason could be that he just wants a good looking and specially a forgiener standing next to him.

    Secondly, the trend for marrige is changing as more and more parents are getting open minded and supporting their son or daughter’s decission for the life partner
    but still the old traditons are followed in a majority.

  6. hello! i’m a malaysian student studying in Manipal, southwest of india. will be going to delhi in august! haha! hope u enjoy ur trip there! i’m just curious, what brings u to delhi?

  7. Great reflection.
    I suppose its a the environment and culture determines one’s character. More importantly, every country goes through a cycle. India, is curently in a developing stage. I dare say it would undergo evolution once its out of the developing stage which China is experiencing now. The current wage hikes in China would drive more business to India. And the demands of Indians would increase which drives evolution and such pictures you see now would diminish.

  8. Dear Joanne,

    I enjoyed reading your blogpost on New Delhi, and enjoyed also your thoughts and insights on happiness. I wanted to share with you and your readers what a wise man once said: “The happiness and greatness, the rank and station, the pleasure and peace, of an individual have never consisted in his personal wealth, but rather in his excellent character, his high resolve, the breadth of his learning, and his ability to solve difficult problems.”
    As Singaporeans become more affluent, more sophisticated and more educated, I hope we don’t forget to manifest some of the qualities that the people of Delhi showed towards you, some of which you described and many of which I can see in the photographs: kindliness, friendliness, love towards fellow human beings, lack of prejudice and joy.
    Thank you once again for sharing, and I look forward to reading more from you.

  9. I am an Indian and over the period of time, had visited few countries. Getting into East Asian countries for the first time. After a long stay in HK, nw its S’pore. Education is the primary concern in India than anything and we get convinced with a mindset after listening a lot about it since our childhood. We like to count more numbers in friendship. Hence, dont hesitate to talk to strangers. People wont like to spend harden money after PSP kind of stuff as the perception is that, that money can be utilized after book that help children in long run. The common concept is ” Spend more time after study, be an engineer/doctor and earn good time, then enjoy the they you want”…The basic things one can find here is unity in diversity…Life is beautiful wherever..however..

  10. I really enjoy what you are doing here… writing down stuff, information, reflections or views as you travel. Not only that, I realise the pictures you have taken have “depth” and seemingly they try to tell stories too. Pictures of People, food, places, things and scenery. Very well done… and very inspiring for someone like me with similar interest in photography and writing. But I am a newbie . Finding my way in this “Structure In Place” within Singapore, I hope to find way out to simple happiness in writing and photography. Probably we all can do more and give more to the people around and society when we are traveling around, talking to them and sharing their culture.

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