1. Metro in Delhi was absolutely cool. I travelled from Karol Bagh to Civil Lines in 14 minutes flat! Compare this with my many trips on U-Specials to the DU and it was such a God send!
Most people observe order there in the Metro. If only we could have the Delhi airport built the same way as the Rajiv Chowk Metro station we would be much better off! I personally believe that just the creation – not a good job of it – was enough of a miracle knowing what Delhi is like with folks – whose land was acquired – full of political connections and the tough job of creating such a huge thing in the heart of a busy city! That it was done in such a good way is an even greater achievement!
2. Bangalore was a disappointment! It is where Delhi was a decade ago! They have a flyover being built near the airport for last 6 years and its still not complete…. meanwhile Delhi has built a Metro and several flyovers! If it wasnt for the weather, there would be no reason to be in Bangalore at all. The lack of any movement towards CNG – which helped Delhi’s air tremendously – is not going to help this weather very long anyways.
3. I went to Vaishno Devi after a long time. Last time I went was in 1999. A lot has changed. On my first visit the climb was tough – I guess in mid 1990’s – as there wasnt much around. Then Gulshan Kumar came in and helped build some basic infrastructure. That was a relief as you found some soda and snacks stand at every turn. This commercialisation has reached its peak (nadir?) with shops all over the place…. The worst thing was the proliferation of the horses to take people up there.. and the mess their poop and pee wreaks on the ground. There is literally not an inch on the way where you dont step on horse poop! The smell is just so disgusting and nauseating! I can understand that everyone needs to have a livelihood but not at the cost of the basic decent living for everyone else!
Another interesting thing was that most porters and the horse owners were Muslims who would take people to the final destination. It was interesting to see that those from different faith and one that treats the very shrine as a blasphemy because of its idols are such an integral part of the entire experience. And if this was US, there would be a very strict eye on most of these guys.. for you never know who gets the urge to go ballistic in the real sense of the word. For in my personal opinion a devout Muslim is only a clergy away from a terrorist act!
4. Growth in India has created a lot of opportunities and lot of wealth. This has also led to a big distance between rich and the middle class. Some of the flats (apartments) are going for Rs. 11-15 crores or $2 million! Compare that with the people unable to even buy a shanty.. and thats a lot of people!
5. The connectivity is improving by the day. The internet connections – broadband – were much faster than the turtle speeds that I always had come to expect in India. And now the companies have come out with the internet cards too that use the cell phone signals to send the broadband connectivity. This is really useful. Unlike the US, in India the cell phone signals do work almost everywhere.. even when your train is passing through the remotest area of the country. Here in US, my T-mobile has just one bar worth of signal in my OWN HOUSE!! Sprint of course is half a bar though! And I am talking about heart of one the most popular Houston suburb.. not some country side!
Next Year I am sure will be an even better experience with the introduction of 3G expected to hit the the waves by 2007 late sometime. So people are just starting to get connected.. and get connected in a BIG WAY!
6. In my personal opinion India and its minds have regressed backwards. Honestly. Our sewage and drainage system in a place like Delhi is no match for the drainage and sewer system of the Harrapa and Mohenjo Daro folks even.. forget the US! If anything our benchmark should be how we lived 5000 years back and we will come up short. If that that isnt going backwards as time progressed then what is? And I haven’t yet started talking of the scientific temperament and logical discussion that people of the eras gone could and did indulge in versus the situation today!
7. The energy in India as it moves on is difficult to miss. It is so palpable that it catches on to you! You feel as if you are missing out on one of the greatest growth periods that the world of our times will ever witness.
I will post my pictures from the visit soon.
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