After 4.5 months, I’m back in Delhi and it’s exciting and familiar as always. I took the train to Frankfurt, flew with Etihad via Abu Dhabi and even though the journey was a bit long, it was actually quite relaxed and comfortable. I didn’t take any photos from the airport to my cousin’s house, but I was amazed at the remnants of the G20 summit that had taken place at that weekend. Posters or walls with advertising pictures were up everywhere and Mr. Modi was virtually following you, looking at you seriously from everywhere. India had gone to great lengths for the G20, investing months in preparations to present the best possible image of India as an emerging superpower to the visitors. Having just landed on the moon and now hosting the G20, India is on the one hand flying high, but on the other hand it is struggling with problems that disrupt the good image and of which the guests should notice as little as possible.
So Delhi was spruced up, a lot of ugliness was hidden and other inconveniences were dealt with. Fountains, statues of lions and new plants spruced up the important areas – but one had to realise that the many new flower tubs were in great demand and always disappeared, probably into private homes. Then there is a monkey problem in New Delhi. For some years now, the many hordes of monkeys running around have been seen as a plague. How should they be kept in control? The local rhesus monkeys have few natural enemies. But they are afraid – of the black-faced langur monkeys. Importing them would not be a good idea, but maybe they would be a good deterrent as cardboard figures! So they put up cardboard langur companions. They also looked for people who could imitate the sounds of the langurs well and used them to deter/expel rhesus monkeys.
I’m sure there was a lot more interesting stuff going on, but maybe that’s enough for now.
I watched less of the media at the time of the G20, especially not a lot of different media, but my perception was that at least the coverage in Germany lagged far behind the effort that was put into it here.
India is sometimes a bit complicated and opaque. As a foreigner, it is very easy to get prepaid SIM cards from Airtel. In Spiti, however, there is no Airtel, but BSNL and, best of all, Jio. So I wanted a Jio SIM, went to the SIM card shop and got a rejection: it’s not available. It’s only for locals. So I needed a local with his ID to get me a SIM. That was awkward but doable.
Eva had a rather rough journey. She wanted to fly directly from Delhi to Shimla, but the flight was cancelled after check-in and the one the next day was also rather uncertain whether it would take off (bad weather in Shimla?) and so she had to change her plans and we met in Delhi instead of Shimla. The plan was to visit the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in Delhi together with 4 other people. In the end, it was just Eva and me: Cousin and Prashant were ill, Ashok Bakshi could only come later and Rawat had kindly got me the Jio-SIM, came to the entrance, handed over the card and said goodbye again: he would not feel well either. I didn’t feel fit either, it was too hot in Delhi.
There was a lot more of struggle with a restaurant found on google maps but not found in real, the ban on waiting for someone in the entrance of a metro station and interesting bans in the Gurudwara. All these prohibitions were at least not respected by the Indians. One was not allowed to idle-sit – the person next to us even lay down idly and was asked by the gentlemen on our other side not to let his feet point towards the shrine. He changed his idle-laying position. One should also not take photos.
As you can see, I too have been guilty of the general violation of the prohibition. Then you shouldn’t talk in certain places either. I found the sign very nice.
And you weren’t allowed to sit on certain stairs or lean against a building with your back to the outside, but had to face the wall. But otherwise it was nice. An amazingly large complex in the middle of Delhi. And I probably thought my blog readers were already somehow India connoisseurs who know what a Gurudwara is – otherwise in short: a temple of the Sikhs. Here, too, there was a communal kitchen that served 30 – 70,000 meals a day. We also enjoyed it:
And drinking water there was, too:
Here’s one last look at the pool with the holy water, but no one was allowed in there either. Not even with their feet. The water was also very murky and had many fish in it.
We walked around for a while and were amazed that I had never noticed the smart bikes before. I have never seen anyone cycling with them either.
And then we separated for dinner and to get our luggage ready and to take a shower, to meet again at 21:00 for the departure of our night bus to Shimla. And what we experienced then – that was unbelievable! This has never happened to me in 31 years in India! And you can read about it in the next blog post – hahaha 🙂