I’ve decided I really like this city. I always knew I liked it, but while strolling around yesterday evening I decided I really like it. It’s like a year round carnival here; people are pushing around carts with umbrellas selling ice creams and drinks. The tourist attractions are really just attractions. I live by one of the biggest, India gate and it’s mostly local people who go there with their entire family to eat ice cream and jump in the pond.
Delhi makes me laugh when I don’t think it means to. As I got on the underground metro last night I joined the 200 metre queue for the security check and all the men around me excitedly told me to get out of the queue, it’s just for men. Less women use the metro it seems and the free space to my left was the ladies queue. I skipped past them all, and the guard who’d made a fort for himself out of sandbags and went straight to the airport-like security. Every bag gets scanned and regardless of the outcome every person gets searched.
While I was behind the curtain getting poked and prodded by the security lady I noticed a sign with all the items banned from the subway; corpses, decaying animals, bones (unless bleached), human skeletons, manure (of any kind) and dirty t-shirts. Thankfully I had none of those on me yesterday so I passed the inspection.
Delhi is becoming more similar to its western counterparts the whole time. The newest addition is chain fitness centres with the tag line ‘It’s not just for movie stars’. I wandered in for the first time after my metro ride. It may actually be only for movie stars; the visit cost half my weekly salary. The upside is the gym comes with free soft drinks, so I made some of the money back, but then it may have defeated the purpose of the visit. I tried a spin class, which was just like a spin class back home. Except for the amount of mobile phones on bikes and people mid way through a sprint hopping off to take a call. When it was all over and time to stretch half the class decided that was unnecessary bending and so left! Most made their way to the Pepsi machine before moving on to the treadmill. That must have hurt.
Our field work is now over and we have four weeks to write a 30 page report on how the water and sanitation programme is being maintained…..or not as we may write. I don’t think I’ve ever been lied to as much in my life. It was clear nothing was happening in most schools, often due to no fault of the staff, but they saw us coming with the government officials in tow and told us what they thought we wanted to hear.
Thing is, children rarely lie. Especially about water and sanitation issues. The schools seemed to have anticipated some of our questions like ‘Who maintains the bio intensive garden’. Don’t think they were expecting us to ask the little ones ‘When was said garden built’. A lot said two to three days ago. One little chap was even more direct and answered “When we heard you were coming”.
After our two weeks in rural India we’re back in the big city. The weather changed since we’ve been away, the monsoon came (although thanks to Mr. Global Warming that no longer means rain – just humidity) and now it’s sticky and sweaty here.
Well nowadays tour operators use motorbikes and cars instead of the boat you see in the picture. That photo was taken just last year and somehow one missing monsoon has dried the whole place up! I can’t find the photo of the dry lake but I’ll get it.
My own photos are on route to this blog. They should be here any day now. Once this internet connection speeds up I’ll show all the great photos of the fake gardens, the 3 foot health monitors who I’m supposed to believe administer first aid and the game of snakes and ladders that includes a drop of eight places if you are caught reliving yourself in the open.
Tags: India, Ireland, Volunteering