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I’m too freaking poor to live in India

INDIA | Monday, 16 May 2011 | Views [755] | Comments [1]

The cook / concocter/ magician

The cook / concocter/ magician

The best thing I can compare Delhi to is Dubai. This was something of a shock.  I am unprepared, underdressed and way too underpaid for this town.  Still, after one full day I absolutely love it. Poverty in India, as I was told, is something you learn to live with. I just never thought I’d be the one feeling poor! But it’s a price I’m willing to pay for the general awesomeness of this place.

I trotted out today with some people from my hotel; I wanted to go to the market, they wanted to go to the mall so off we went. Yes, I arrived in India, international capital of culture and went to The Mall. (I was with Americans -and I wanted company).  So off we went. By ‘’mall’’ I imagined a little indoor corridor of shops walking distance around a nearby corner;  (the kind you get in Tonbridge with 5 or 6 shops inside - one of them is usually a tacky pound shop or has closed due to bankruptcy).

I had not reckoned with the Olympic village style complex that rose up before us with all the grandeur of the new Wembley stadium. Except bigger. Much bigger. My initial excitement on entering (‘’ooh air conditioning!!’’) was quickly replaced by embarrassment when I realised how badly I had misjudged this place. I brought eyeliner and extra make up from London in case I couldn’t find it here.  This morning, I saw Lancôme, Estee Lauder, Tom Ford, in less time than it takes to eat a 3 course meal. Delhi whups London’s ass in shopping. Delhi whups  Londons ass, strings it up to a tree and makes it cry like a baby at shopping.

We ventured from the mall to a coffee shop located up some winding stares unobtrusively shunted away at the back of an unremarkable building. It was quite a surprise that inside were plush soft furnishings, cool edgy interior design and catchy mixes of Lady Gaga and other artists whose names I don’t know because I’ve been out of Western civilisation far too long to be familiar with anything current or trendy.

Later we met the explosion of enthusiasm that is Sid (thank you Sumit for the introduction). I think he may be the most fun man in India (if not, can the real Slim Shady please stand up and explain where he gets his energy from?) After dizzying statistics involving millions of dollars all over the place, I learned that a house in the expensive parts of Delhi costs more than my budget for my project across South Asia. Hm. When he laughed uproariously at my suggestion that I had hoped to save money while living in India, I took this as Not A Good Sign.

Add to this the fact that here I am worth zero camels (men get paid for marrying women not the other way round) and my cashflow situaion is not looking quite as rosy as I first thought it might. Oh of course I could be frugal - but here why would you want to be when there's so much to do and everything from dresses to home furnishing is absolutely exquisite. So if you find me asking to please give generously to our charity (my employer), it is only so that I can live in the style to which I would like to become accustomed. 

Still, we had an absolute blast of a day; three markets, one mall, one restaurant, one bar, one lounge bar, one cute little sweet thing in a leaf called paan that Sid introduced us too – add that all up and compared to my previous existence, this is an entire month’s social life packed into one day (well, except that to compare to Somaliland delete the bar, the mall, and the cheeky afternoon mojito).

It might be pricey but I love this place already. I wanted quality of life in a place where I can actually go out, have friends, have a life, exercise and I can do all that here (and in one day – although I might postpone exercise to tomorrow).

I might be poor by local standards but I love Delhi already.


Tags: delhi, india, shopping




I so totally agree with you. Same experience

ps. check my blog: butdifferent.wordpress.com

  Jacek Ratajczak Jun 2, 2011 10:13 PM

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