Friday, 7 March 2008

Out and About in Vasant Kunj

(Two posts today, I'm posting my back log as there was no life in the service provider...)
Life in Delhi is very different from back home. I know lots of people only ever drink bottled water in the US and UK, but I have always been happy with a jug from the tap. Not so in Delhi. We order a large bottle of water for the flat ever few days and use this for all drinking water. Other water, for tea or cooking is boiled, as is the milk. So it’s quickly becoming routine to boil a small jug of milk for our use for the day. When out and about we always carry our own bottle of water. The temperature is creeping steadily upwards and so having water to hand is very important. The sneaky thing that we “weak bellied westerners” need to watch out for is when foods might have been freshly washed and served. There is no guarantee that a nice fresh salad might not have been washed in dodgy water, so the maxim is “If it hasn’t been boiled, cooked or peeled, bin it.”

While it is safe to eat in the flat, I really wanted to try the food further afield. The flat is in an area called Vasant Kunj and there is a small shopping complex and market not too far off. (I think I mentioned that) On Wednesday I headed out early for a meal, straight after I'd finished teaching, because I wanted to join a yoga class with one of the Asha workers later. The small shopping centre near us is about 15-20 minutes walk away. The route takes us past an open manhole (not uncommon) right at the start. What is apparently also not uncommon is that it’s open to raw sewage. In this heat (and it’s not that hot yet, relatively speaking), it brings a whole new meaning to “bad smell”.
I suspect the restaurant on the street might become my "local". It's all on the street with a few plastic tables and chairs near an open grill and "kitchen". The food is very good and reasonably priced.
After that I needed transport. The best form of getting about is the auto rickshaw, a small green and yellow (flimsy) 3 wheeler. We used them last year and I have shared one with Alex this year, but had not yet needed to do this on my own. So Wednesday night I was "flying solo". It was vaguely disconcerting giving directions to a place I could barely pronounce and negotiating prices, without a clue as to what was reasonable, and hoping that I’d be taken to or at least dropped in the vague direction of the place I wanted to reach. As it happened I was dropped on the street I’d asked for, but had to walk some distance, as I’d not given quite enough detail to my directions. I’ll learn! As with the kids in the class, there is a lot of jostling and I’ve seen a few bumper bashings. These do not result in the whole road seizing up, instead there is some hand waving or a few hot looks and then everyone moves off again. – Although I believe there was a fatality on the route I was on Wednesday, which closed the road ‘til 4pm. I only learned this when commenting on how bad the traffic had been. My journey took an hour and I was very late for my first class – which doesn't help when the kids are already beside themselves with excitement.
Did I mention they say it's going to start getting hot? I can't imagine that, it's 33 degrees Celsius today. It shouldn't climb too far above 35 while I'm here though, but that's just the feeling.


Helen said...

Hi Sue

Keep it up! - it sounds like you are contributing a lot to the community out there and I hope you are really enjoying it. Hope you don't catch any tummy bugs and looking forward to hearing more when you get back.

Love, Helen

Sue said...

Hey! Hi and thanks for the comment. Nice to hear from you.