Why I liked Delhi and think you should visit it

November 11, 2010

I don’t know why everybody advised me against visiting Delhi. Only Manuel, the guy from Perugia that I met in Darjeeling, told me I should come because it’s the capital and it’s like going to Italy and not going to Rome (which is not completely true because Rome is Rome, you go there because of its history and architecture, not because it’s the capital of Italy). Anyway, I like Delhi. A lot.

There’s everything you need here. In the Old Delhi there are tiny alleys full of pedestrians, bicycles and rickshaws, small restaurants, stalls, drug users, trash, dogs (dogs in India are particularly ugly, and often sick). Urinals that you can smell from 10 meters away.

And there’s the New Delhi, with large boulevards lined with trees, nice parks, coffee shops with jazz music and toilet paper in the bathroom, very clean roads, restaurants from all over the world with super high prices, government palaces and diplomatic buildings.

People are not worse than other places, on the contrary. In Varanasi and Agra they were more insistent. Here you are often asked if you need a rickshaw, but a part from that, you are free. You are not stopped to chat to be invited to the brother or “uncle” shop after 5 minutes.

The underground is amazing. Super clean (it’s forbidden to spit here), air conditioning. And there are coaches reserved to women, which is good, if you consider the bad Indian habit of brushing against women’s body. And because there are so few women who walk around, the coach is quieter than others.

In Old Delhi there’s the largest mosque in India. It’s called Jama Masjid. It can host up to 25,000 people. It has various entrances, through numbered gates, like a stadium. Impressive.

There are many foreigners, because for many visitors it’s the landing city, and because many live here, as diplomats or as outcast. Yes, for the first time I’ve met foreigners that live in India and lost their soul somewhere. In Kolkata I had met two intellectuals, Tom and Shasha, here in Delhi many junkies. Shame.

I wouldn’t mind living in Delhi for some time. Because there’s everything. The true India and a bit of the Western World, so when one is tired of lentils can go and get a chocolate milkshake.

It’s a bit of a shame I was here only for two and a half days. Tomorrow I’ve got a bus to McLeod Ganj, a vilage near Dharamshala where the Tibetan government is in exile. On the mountains, in the cold.

Will I see the Dalai Lama? I’m quite excited.