Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Delhi || London

"I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air – or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances, I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained."  
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

When you have lived in Delhi all your life, you just read about social, economic or cultural differences of the world, not live it. Heck, I have not even adjusted to the culture and language of my native state (UP) or even my birth city (Lucknow) till now! I know Delhi culture itself is cosmopolitan, but that still means there was only one experience that I had lived "The New Delhi (limited between India Gate and Chanakyapuri, and Khan Market, with a little GK, and a bit of CP and Dwarka) culture and geography".

So what happens when this girl has to suddenly live in another city, in a different part of the world? A blog, because she loves telling stories.
And what happens when that girl is lazy? A huge gap in the blog posts.
But what happens if a chunk of time passes between blog posts? She has rich enough experience to do a 5 point New Delhi vs London!! :-D

So here we go. Feel free to comment on what you agree or disagree with!

1. Stiff upper lips
    You think the British have stiff lips? Do you? Well, I have traveled alone all over (matlab, I have lost stuff, got lost myself, and in general have been at mercy of strangers) and none have disappointed me till now. There are a very helpful lot, some even going over the board to assist me. They smile and wave. They are actually quite jolly.
Also, here I would like to compare maintenance services. I have been serviced by CPWD all my life in Delhi, and it is routine there that if a problem will occur, the official's phone will hardly ever be connected, the engineer will come at his own will and fix stuff mechanically. I personally, being an introvert, like professionals who quietly do their jobs and go and don't chatter unnecessarily,  but the experience here made me think otherwise. Just for a few hours, our water supply was cut off. When I went to inquire, I was led directly to the engineer in charge, who called the people working on the problem to give me the exact time before the supply would come back, not just a random estimate. Also, they asked me if I knew what had happened, and since I did not, they explained to me the entire situation, so I could get the larger picture. All this, on their own initiatives. With smiles and apologies. Stiff upper lips? Not anymore!

PS. This is definitely not a stereotype- Indians are bloody racist. They are racist in India, and they are racist when they come here. Funny part is, they don't even know they are being racist. How cute. Not.

2. Warmth
You know when travel magazines say India is a warm, welcoming country? No, they aren't just talking about the whether! After Lajpat Nagars and Khan Markets and Sarojini Nagars where people literally pull you into their shops and make you laugh with their "salesmanship" and flattery, shop staff here just does not give a damn here! Of course, a bit of "you a'right there darling" apart, they just don't care whether you buy stuff or not, unlike the ambition of Indian shops to convert every visitor in to a customer. I feel unpampered. I will come back and then only do my shopping. Sniff.
On a related note, no restaurant served you water! Till you ask for it. sometimes repeatedly! No, they don't charge for it, but unlike the Indian custom of first serving guests water as soon as they enter, there is is no such concept here! Also, children? take them only to specific "child-friendly" places and if you take them out after say around 6, get prepared to receive tutting glares.

3. Safety
Oh dear, I cannot stress this enough. I have never felt so safe ever in my life. Going out at night and coming back at 3 am in a bus in a dress, and not even giving a shit about any word in the previous sentence, sure feels like heaven. Why can I not even think of doing that in Delhi?
And its not just about that, people follow rules. Even on a peak hour traffic on the narrowest road, and police car and an ambulance is able to pass with such speed within seconds, it deserves an applause. And right of way to pedestrians is truly amazing. I cannot remember the number of times I have escaped a car running over me just in an attempt to cross a road in Delhi.Besides that, I love their non invasive security everywhere. I do not have to show the contents on my bag before every metro journey. I do not have to deposit bags outside any movie theater, and the list goes on. This country is more of a target to menacing groups than India, but even after they give all this freedom to their people, they still have lesser attacks. Why?

4. Food
Is the sea-surrounded Britain so short of salt?? Do you know that white powdery thing?? Its supposed to bring taste to your food. Humans discovered that centuries back. (I am not even talking about spices, let not get there.)
WHY can you not put salt in your fries, soup, pasta, fish, anything!! Why does my first bite of anything need to be so yuck! Please, just give salt a chance. You will thank me for it.
Also, some diners have a rule - you cannot order a dessert before or without the main course. WHAT. Who are you? My mother??
Those who know me will understand how much desserts mean to me and how less the main course does. There are times I want to just have a drink and enjoy my self through the night and then take a walk to restaurant and have good cheesecake/brownie/anything sweet. But they wont do it! They wont even let me take it away!! Nonsensical Idiots. **Flabbergasted**
In India, I remember walking into even five star hotels and asking for just the dessert. Oh the friendly staff and reasonable rules. Sigh...

5. Inflation, Return Policy and Organic stuff. (I don't know what to name this point)
Lastly, how did things get so bloody expensive in India? No, London is not expensive. It is if you convert your Rupee income. But don't do that. Every needful and even wantful is well within a common person's reach. For example, Multi Brands have their products priced here same as in India, exact conversion. This means, for a person earning in rupees Benetton, Accessorize, and the life are expensive, while for a person here, they are relatively cheaper! Further, there are products that are the same price here, and some even cheaper, than in India even if you take the exact conversion! What the hell in going wrong? If these are locally made products, then the labour cost (at least) should be more, hence the product should be more expensive. If it an imported product from China or Bangladesh, then we are closer to those nations, hence lesser fuel costs in imports so how are those things cheaper here?!?!
Since I am talking of shopping again, I want to take my last sentence of this point to applaud the "return polity" here. You can return products. With money back. It does not need to have any defects. Dont like it? Return it. As simple as that. What is the logic behind Indian stores not letting you return the product the moment after that stupid bill is generated is beyond me. Its my mind, a human mind which can be changed, and I can change it however many times I want!
Oh also (this one last sentence of the point, promise), here, organic products and regular products of the same brand are prices exactly the same, giving you a real "choice". I have noticed in general back in Delhi that the prices of organic goods are generally higher. Like, You want to eat healthy? Be rich for that. Who is capitalistic now?

I am not the first ever Indian to live here am I? I think we all have an estimate of how many Indians must have seen what I have noted above, and how many policy makers have visited different countries, sometimes, solely with the purpose of studying a advantages of a different setup. Well.
And I know so many of the British have come to India. Why cant they learn Indian hospitality and the use of salt!?

I guess cultural differences. There is a reason this term exists.
New Delhi, London. I love you cities to bits.

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