Monday, September 22, 2008

Delhi in rains

Trips to Delhi are always looked forward to. I have many pleasant memories of Delhi – I started my career here in 2000 when I was posted for three and half months. 

Anyways, this time I decided to try out a new radio taxi service - Mega Cabs (022-42424242) - whilst going from my home to the Bombay airport. The service was excellent. Like Meru, this taxi service is punctual and very efficient. Meru (022-44224422) and Mega both have identical fare structure. Even their electronic taxi meters are manufactured by the same Singapore-based company, I am told. Both give you a printout of the bill at the end of your journey. These are the new-age air-conditioned radio taxis that you can call and summon them anytime of the day or night. Unlike the old Maruti Esteems of Meru, Mega sports brand new and swanky Tata Indigos. Mega’s cars look better maintained – and cleaner – than Meru’s. But Meru will soon also get a new fleet. 

However, Mega has certain rules. The journey should start within 15 minutes after the taxi arrives. After that, the meter will start to run. Cancellations attract a penalty of Rs 100. Which is fine, after all. 

The worse radio taxi service in Bombay would be Gold Taxi. They are the most expensive and their meters run really fast. They don’t even give printouts of the bill. Their taxis look dirty (though they too use Maruti Esteems) and are not well-maintained. 

On the first day (17 September), it poured in Delhi. If you think that Bombay falls apart in heavy rains, you should see Delhi. Two hours of moderate-to-heavy rains. That’s all it takes to throw the entire city out of gear. The construction of metro railway further worsens the case and adds to all the muck on the roads and pavements. Pathetic sewage system the city has. It took me 45 minutes from Green Park Extension (where I was put for a night) to get to Siri Fort Auditorium, what normally is just a 10 minutes ride. 

I watched the concert of singer Shaufaqat Amanat Ali – ex-band member of the Pakistani band Fuzon – who was launching his first solo album, thanks to my Cleopatra Chumki. For once, she was silent and someone spoke – well, in this case, sang. I will not mention what my other chick was upto; she went to a parallel universe to meet her someone special and when she gets there, she forgets everyone else. So then why should I mention her! 

Shaufaqat Amanat Ali’s first album is called ‘Tabeer’. You might not recollect him, but he has sung some popular Bollywood numbers – Mitwa (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham), Yeh Hosla (Dor) among a handful others. I did not much like songs from his new album, but his Bollywood numbers were nice. Plus, he sang some old folklore whilst mixing it up in a fusion beat. Nice way to spend an evening. 

I do not understand why the entire Delhi city, especially its parking lots, is so poorly lit. Delhi is constructing Metro railway, remodeling its airport apart from a host of other infrastructure projects, but why can’t its public places be lit up more? Siri Fort complex is such a major cultural hub, but its parking lot is dangerously dark and looks absolutely creepy, despite being full of cars, during an event. That’s its not even made-up properly and much of it seems to be on very bad patch of rough ground further worsens the case. Even after the unfortunate incident of a Swiss-diplomat being picked up from this very parking lot and raped in a moving car in October 2003, the authorities have not learned their lesson. 

But apart from poor city planning, Delhi looks very good in rains, epecially when its drizzling. As it is, the city is one of the greenest in India. It's green cover looks more lush in rains. And if you go into open spaces, you could also be enveloped in fog. A Kodak moment. 

Anyways, two more days passed by quickly amidst boring and non-value adding work and some animated - apart from what seemed like unbelievable - denials to some strange and weird rumours. Poor acting performances, if I may have the audacity to add! The bright spot was catching up with office colleagues and lunch with my Victoria’s Secret babe at Blanco – an upmarket restaurant at Delhi’s Khan market. Because of the recent terrorism attack, all the cars were being checked, that led to a massive jam outside the gates of this shopping complex. Blanco has a nice ambiance, warm and a very quick service and good food. We had Chicken Dim Sums, Stuffed Chicken Brest and King Fish Steak. Excellent food, though a little pricey. I would recommend it. 

And if you’re wondering whether I had my all-time favourite Nirula’s Hot Chocolate Fudge, I did not. I have moved on or should I say, I have grown. Actually, my priorities have changed. My latest obsession is the cheesecake. I had the fabulous Irish Cream Cheesecake at The Big Chill – my favourite dessert joint in Delhi.  

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