I am back from a 5 day jaunt to New Delhi - the capital of India. And I must say what an experience it was. This wasn't the first time that I had been there but it was my longest stay and one in which I was alone.

I have spent time in quite a few cities in India, never lived in any but I must say so far, Delhi is the worst for the reasons that I am going to enumerate below. But before that I would like to add that these are my views only and if I do offend anyone who is passionate about 'Saddi Dilli', then it is completely intentional.

1.Delhi does not have a standardized bus service in place. Any bus just paints two signs on it's sides - 'Under STA permit' or 'Stage Carrier' , hangs a number on the front of the bus and then it's called public transport. They also have a sign saying 'CNG' but I personally saw one of them go into a Indian Oil pump and fill up on diesel.

2.Delhi buses do not have a fixed rate card or chart. The conductor just demands what he feels should be the fare. You then have the following options:
i.Pay up (which is what I did)
ii.Argue a little and then pay up
iii.Get thrown out
iv.Get into an argument and eventually a fight and provide some entertainment for your fellow passengers

I traveled by bus for most of the time while I was there and based on my calculations, the first happened 50% of the time, the second happened 35% of the time, the third happened 5% of the time and the fourth 10% of the time. And when the fourth thing happens its definitely something you want to witness. The bus stops in the middle of the street, the passenger (who is usually with his friends in a group) on one side, the conductor and his cohorts (there are usually 4 crew members traveling on the bus) on the other and all around him, angry honking cars, people from the street who want to watch the fun and passive passengers who just want to get to their destinations. It's one huge tamasha.

3.Drunks, and there are plenty of them around. On every bus that I traveled, there was an average of 1.5 drunks and it doesn't matter if its the morning, evening or night they are always there. Maybe there had been some kind of free booze festival on the days that I was there but there were an awful number of drunks around. And what the conductors used to do was take the money for the ticket and push them out where they pleased. Nice way to earn money huh!

4.The Ladies seat. An entire half of the bus is reserved for the female sex. I understand that the female population in Delhi is an oppressed lot having to contend with the dangers of a rape every hour and sexual harassment which may or may not include ass grabbing, pinching and the likes but does that justify an entire half of the bus. I know that they have to suffer a lot but will all that go away by just offering them a seat and feeling happy about it? I rest my case.

5.And then there are the salesmen practicing the art of Direct Marketing. I thought this was a phenomenon restricted to long distance vehicles only but I was wrong. They come on in every local bus in Delhi and sell products ranging from books promising you help in your sexual problems to powders,pastes etc which are supposed to cure all the problems that you ever had. One guy went as far as saying "Main aapko ek poora pharmacy de raha hoon sirf dus rupiye main, dus rupiye, dus rupiye, dus rupiye"(I am giving you an entire pharmacy in just ten rupees, ten rupees, ten rupees, ten rupees)
And guess what!!! People actually buy them. I just could not imagine anyone trusting quacks for their problems and then I remembered the statement "India lives in it's villages". I don't know who said it but I would like to add "India has now moved to it's cities".

6.Don't even get me started on the rickshaws, both the CNG version as well as the manual ones.

7.The people, every city is identified with them, the suave bangaloreans(or should I say bengalurus), the work-hard, party-harder mumbaikers, the relaxed and joyous puneites and many more. For Delhi I would say the grumpy, frustrated delhiites. This may because I didn't meet the oh-so-rich Punjabis in South-ex traveling in their mercs and SUV's, hanging out at pubs and discs. But I feel they rich make up a lesser part of the city than the rest.

I know how unending this post may seem but you see I haven't written for 4 days and that's a long time. But before ending I would like to point out some things which I thought was nice. After all every rule has it's exceptions:

1.The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is doing a great job and by the time the entire thing comes up, people may not have to depend on those god forsaken buses and autorickshaws.

2.The capital area with the government offices, rashtrapathi bhawan and parliament is a very pleasing site. It feels like a capital city there and only there. There are no cluttered electric poles with wired dangling at every angle, wide and clean roads with no potholes and maybe it's because of the police around but the vehicles were keeping to the lanes.

Sadly I can't find more things to mention in the better half .

I know that I am basing my entire judgment on the five days that I spent there but that's how I judge. A city has the effect on you in a moment and that's what I have felt everywhere and so too in Dilli.