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   One of the things I would like to do... (May 4, 1990)

One of the things I would like to do, before I conclude my working life, is to stay in New Delhi for a couple of years. It is a city I have not yet understood.

Seen from the distance of Bombay, or on the TV screen during the news bulletins, it seems a busy, important city, where decisions affecting the nation are mde all the time. Politicians confronting one another, newspaper correspondents running about, meeting deadlines, secretaries in conference with businessmen, middlemen collecting commissions.

But when I actually go to New Delhi, I find that nothing is happening. The impression I always gather is that of a small town with auto-rickshaws, wide cantonment roads with little traffic, heavy stone structures that look like muments and are actually either government offices or hotels.

It is a city which has something like seven or eight English newspapers alone, and yet if I want to buy a newspaper, I have to come all the way to the centre of the world and then go around its various circles trying to locate a paper vendor sitting on the pavement.

And it is a city whose restaurants society magazines keep writing about. Mr. Jigges Kalra having culinary discussions with various Punjabi chefs and presenting dishes in the colour sections. But to find a restautant in Delhi, unless you are staying at Daryaganj, you have to walk miles. It is not like Bombay or miles. It is not like Bombay or Calcutta, where you come out of your house and there are three restaurants and two pavement stalls down the road.

To go from anywhere, you have to telephone for a taxi, and if you do not have a telephone, that is your bad luck. The taxis are all Ambassadors and the meter is kept so far out that the driver cannot just put his hand our and drop the flag. He has to come out, of round the taxi, put the meter flag down, then come back, get into the taxi.

In the night, there are two drivers per taxi, and normally both of them are Sikhs.

Most of the people in Delhi are Punjabis. They talk in Punjabi Hindi or Panjabi English, with paan in the mouth. The MPs, of course, come from all over India. You don't see them, but if you walk down the empty roads, you see their nameplates at the entrances to the bungalows.

The ministers also, you never see. You know they are there by the number of policemen and wireless van around a place.

And if you read the newspapers, you think Delhi is awake all night, George Fernandes rushing to the house of Devi Lal. Dandavate meeting Ajit Singh, Chandra Shekhar talking to reporters, V.P. Singh having an all-party consensus meeing. Actually, after 8 p.m., everybody goes to bed in Delhi.

On second though, I do not think it would be such a good idea to waste the final two years of my working life in Delhi. Better end where you have begun.

 
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