A couple of days back I was in Delhi. I was just there for a day, well not even a day. I reached there at about 7 in the morning and had to leave at about 9 in the evening the same day. In these few hours, I was able to see a lot of sides of Delhi.
As we got down from the railway station we started searching for Ginger hotels which is the near the railway station. Upon arrival we were greeted by a very frustrated and arrogant front office manager who told us that the hotel was full till the month end and that he could not accommodate or help us in any way. This was my first impression of delhi, arrogant and rude to the core. We walked out saying a ‘thank you’ with a smile thinking that a bit of ‘Munnabhai’ stuff would atleast embarrass him and he would not repeat it with the future clients. We started the long walk across the station again to go to the pahadganj side of the station where we could find some economical hotels to freshen up for the day.
The hotel we settled for was walking distance from the station and we changed into formals (shirt and trouser) for the seminar and expo at Hotel Ashoka, Chanakyapuri. The roads to this place were all very clean, we passed Janpath and we really had a good feeling when we saw 10 Janpath, the residence of the most powerful lady of India. The journey was good and we arrived at Hotel Ashoka. It was a five star hotel. The atmosphere was very good, plush interiors, well dressed delegates and an aura of vitality all around us. The people were very well behaved and dressed to the tip of the toe. I was feeling out of place with my formal shirt and trousers. We attended a couple of sessions of the conference and moved to the expo area. I was again confronted with impeccable english, lovely faces and dazzling smiles. This was my second impression of delhi, smart and educated, lovely to look at and always glad to welcome you around.
After we left the expo we still had time at hand so we thought we’d go to Pragati Maidan to see the International Trade fair. Upon arrival we were informed that the ticket counter was closed for the day (the counter closes at 2p.m. for the last two days of the exhibition). The place resembled a beehive and there was complete chaos. The entry tickets were being sold in ‘black’ at a price that was 5 times the normal price (some cops were also doing the same). There were groups of boys’ eve-teasing girls passing by; couples as young as 15 years could be seen walking hand in hand, girls dressed provocatively, and there was a cacophony of several cheap roadside music instruments. We tried in vain for an hour to get the tickets but everyone we came across told us ‘We just finished selling the last few that were left’. After an hour we thought its better to proceed to the hotel and rest for a while as we had a train to catch in about 3 hour’s time and decided that we’d go there by the metro. The cop standing nearby told us that the metro station was ‘walking distance’ from the gate number 11 and after walking for 45 mins with the motivation of the several passersby who told us ‘bas thoda hi aage hai’ we finally reached the metro which was about 2 kms away. This was my third impression of delhi, chaotic, corrupt, overgrown for its age, confused and unwilling to help.
As we reached the hotel, my friend’s father told him that the hotel owner was a distant relative. After reaching the hotel, my friend had a talk with the owner for about 20 mins, he recognized him and asked him how his parents are and told him their family history and how they were related and stuff. Finally, when it was time to check out we received the bill expecting a discount at the bottom but it was no-where to be seen. We paid quietly and left without a word more. This was my fourth and last experience of delhi, selfish and self centered.
What’s a city without its people, a jungle of metal and bricks. We never notice it when we are in our own surroundings but people play an integral part in making any city what it is today. As the infrastructure and the other amenities change, so do the people. It is a very slow process so we fail to notice the change, a change that comes in our behavior too, and after we take into account all these factors we conclude if the place can be classified as rural or urban. And in delhi, that day, I saw it all, a town, a city and a metro and seeing it all at the same place was a great experience.