Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sufdarjungs Tomb

After settling in to big city living, finding our local markets and all the other essential things needed to survive, we started to have a look around at the other trappings New Delhi has on offer. Our first tourist type outing was to Safdarjung's Tomb (still my favorite out of the tombs in New Delhi). Safdarjung's tomb is modest in comparison to most and that's was makes it such a nice place to visit. It is understated in it's appearance and is a lovely place to just wander around an imagine how life must have been here 2-300 years ago. The tomb is beautiful with a lovely expansive surrounding garden.

After arriving at the Tomb we were greeted by one of the local tourist guides. He offered to take us around and give an overview of the tomb and it's surrounds, for a small fee of course. This happens at most of India's major tourist attractions of historical significance. You arrive and are then pounced on by guides, both legitimate and not. Thankfully the good ones are relatively easy to identify as they carry a government issued identity card which lets you know who and what they are.

The tomb was built in 1754 and is representative of the many Mughal tombs (albeit smaller than most) built during their reign. The tomb is significant as it was the last tomb built by the Mughal's prior to the British securing their stranglehold on the subcontinent.

The tomb is located very close to work so we often drive by it and it always looks fantastic with lovely surrounding gardens. If your coming to Delhi then Sufdarjung is a must see.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Everyone's a charmer......

One thing about New Delhi is that you never have any privacy. We learnt this very quickly after moving into the residence. No sooner had we arrived and the locals started turning up at the front gate of the residence seeking work, housekeepers, drivers, cooks basically you name it they all came in droves. Mostly younger people, but we noticed something strange. They pretty well seemed to be preying on us. The majority were from the organised house help Mafia, they were often young girls between 15-25 years old who have come to New Delhi but for whatever reason they have gotten themselves stuck and fallen prey to the organised criminal elements within the city. The people running this type of racket will be taking a proportion your house helps income or even worse they may be casing your home out. They go to great lengths by work for a period of time in your house to earn your trust and then one day, perhaps after a month or two you come home to find all your valuables gone.

There are upsides to home visitors including the local vegetable walli who brings fantastic fresh vegetables every day. Or the man who comes around and pays you quite handsomely to take your recycling away! We even have the local Yukult girl who comes around on her scooter delivering Yukult. There is also a less desirable group in this lot including the notorious carpet salesman, who is often very persistent and won't leave until you agree to buy one of his often dirty or badly made rugs.

Many of these people prey on the expat and diplomatic community, cruzing around the better parts of the city and identifying you from your numberplate. They then go to great lengths to get your attention, even to the point of standing out the front of your residence for hours in the 45 plus degree Celsius heat just waiting for you to come out of the house or to come home so they can approach you.

However, my favorite visitor of all is the local snake charmer, he wanders around the street playing the flute and conducting shows with his two Cobras. Soon after setting into the residence we invited him into the yard to do a show for the children. It was fantastic, he played music and entertained us for over half an hour. The snakes were amazing and very friendly, the children had a ball and this much fun was had for the princely sum of $12 AU equivalent.

Monday, February 9, 2009

After a tumultuous month we finally settle in

On 9 February we moved into our residence in Shanti Niketan. After several delays in maintenance to the property including, the owner wanting to re-tile half the place because of water leaks, and needing to be painted throughout due to 'Delhi dust' (I'm devoting a whole separate post to the dust in New Delhi)...... We were due to move in on 26 January but things just kept getting delayed. We have since realised this is just the way things are in India. There is a saying here 'things happen in there own good time' and ain't that the truth!

It was really exciting to have our uplift from Australia being delivered too. My main priority was to get the WEGA espresso machine up and running as I needed a good coffee!!! Having our homely possessions also meant we were finally able to settle into a more normal life in New Delhi. There was an immediate overwhelming joy from the children when we moved in. Saket had been fantastic and the children really enjoyed staying there but having a home with there own rooms and space to run around meant they were finally back in their element.

The residence is nice and there is plenty of room for the children to run around and play inside (an important feature for when the summer months arrive......). Inside the residence it is light filled, it has an open feel with high ceilings, good sized rooms and great orientation. These features, along with it being close to a nice small park means it is a great place to live. Having a nice home is important in a city like New Delhi. The City is, generally speaking, a seething chaotic mass and you are reminded of this constantly. Each and every morning, upon leaving our short street, we are immediately presented with total traffic chaos, people using the surroundings as a toilet and beggars galore tapping on our car window, all within the space of 250 meters from the residence!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Living in New Delhi

We arrived in New Delhi India on 12 January 2009 at around 3am. The flight in over the city gave us a real feel for what we were in for in the form of a thick blanket of smoke haze enveloping the city. It was winter and we had arrived in the middle of the Indian Harvest Festival. What this transpired into for us was equivalent to an Australian bushfire. Exiting the plane onto the tarmac we were presented with an intense, overwhelming and almost suffocating thick burnt air resulting from the locals burning everything in sight. We were told the burning was in celebration of the harvest just being finalised but the Delhi winter temperatures also necessitate the locals burning whatever they can get there hands on to keep warm.

The next shock for us was the car trip from the airport to our temporary accommodation at Svelte Hotel at the Select City Walk Shopping Centre in the suburb of Saket. We were presented with what looked like a war ravaged city in complete disarray, rubble and rubbish everywhere. At this point I was left wondering what had I done and how was the family going to survive a three year post in New Delhi. This was further reinforced when Felix said to me 'daddy what has happened to this city - has a bomb dropped here?'. The whole family was shell shocked and I was desperately looking for a reason, some justification, or at least thread of justification to be in New Delhi. The saving grace came in the form of the Svelte Hotel and surprisingly a shopping mall. For the next month whilst in temporary accommodation these two things allowed us as a family to resume some resemblance of our life in Australia. I suppose you could say we had to adjust in a major way. Life in New Delhi was different, very different and frankly there is nothing you could every do to prepare yourself for picking up your whole life in Australia, your family and your home, your friends and your work and transpose it to a life in New Delhi.