Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Finally a pic

I booked into the Taj Palace hotel. very swank. Great pool. I was just riding up on the elevator and one of the staff, who I'd never met before, said "Good evening Mr. Kirby." Of course, in keeping with all Indian hotels, the Internet service is expensive and crap. I can't maintain a connection long enough to upload to Blogger. So only one pic, of me in front of the Gateway to India in Mumbai at night.

Most of the day was spent in and around Connaught Place, a series of ring roads that's at the heart of Old Delhi. It was the first place I went to when I got to India last year, and where my hotel was, and I now realize it's not representative of India. A foreigner can't walk 10 feet in CP without being accosted by beggers, rickshaw drivers, touts hawking chess sets/napkins/maps and guys trying to play friendly to lure you back to their stores. While other parts of India do have all of those, no where is it as concentrated as here. It really wears you down.

At one point I walked past the Air India building and remembered that was where I had my first run in with a con. It was a shoe shine guy, who by the time he was done had talked me into removing my shoes so he could work on them, pretty much destroyed them, and somehow convinced me to pay him for it. Just as I was recalling how ticked off I was, and how much I'd learned since then about spotting the cons, I saw another Western guy sitting on the ground beside a shoe shiner in the exact same spot, smoking a cigarette, and looking pissed off. The circle is complete.

Last year the centre of CP was a dusty wasteland, torn up as part of the construction of Delhi's new subway system. I remember thinking there's no way they'd ever get it done. I only saw one piece of equipment, a rickety earth mover. But it is done. And it's a great system, albeit a bit limited until they finish all the expansion. I took a quick ride to one station down the line and back.

I wanted to take photos of the subway, but couldn't. Cops everywhere were telling me no photos. It's been like that all along -- today alone I was told no "no photos" three times by authorities. It's all in the name of security, but smacks of cops trying to look like they're doing something. I saw on the news this morning a bunch of protesting students beat a professor to death in full view of the cops who stood around watching. I'm sure if anyone was trying to take photos, they'd have swung in to action.

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