Two weeks into Delhi. Whew! That was us collectively swiping the sweat off our foreheads. We just managed to survive temperatures of an average 100+ degrees and had a blast while doing it!
So what have we learned in these two weeks about India and South Asia so far? For one thing, we know that we really did not know this part of the world till we came here, despite us spending plenty of time here in the past. India, so far, remains the land of contradictions for us. You step into Delhi’s fancy Metro system and you would easily place the city as extremely developed based on the sheer size, effectiveness and grandiose of this brand new subway system. Now, get out at one of Old Delhi stations and you enter a city that belongs in early 20th century and probably has not been updated since. We have met people who make $2.50 per day and visited a hospital that charges 50 times that for a basic check-up. Like any developing country, these contradictions are abound, but there are few places in the world with the kind of extremity that exists in Delhi. And this is exactly what makes India such a difficult, yet interesting place to figure out.
We arrived here at quite a historic time – the country just elected it’s first majority government in 30 years and a purported business friendly Prime Minister has taken on the helms. Business confidence is high, but hopes of the general public are higher. We have had amazingly honest talks with some of the most senior and revered media personnel and academics on this issue and went away with a different way of looking at India than we were used to. We have also probably eaten our collective weight worth of delicious food from all corners of India, visited historic sights dating back 1600 years and improved our Hindi skills beyond what we imagined possible within a two week period. All this with a smile on our face even in the intense heat – H-track is for troopers!
Mumbai and Cochin are up next over the next two weeks. We are entering a period of further exploration of the diversities and contradictions within India as we move to other parts of India, engage with experts from various fields, and visit a variety of businesses ranging from large foreign consulting firms to Indian conglomerates to local businesses. Some beaches await us in the middle of all this and the all-important soccer World Cup as well. We hope the next few weeks are just as great as the last and we look forward to learning more about this country!