24.10.2010 33 °C
The crumbling buildings and booby-trapped lanes in Old Delhi offer a bewildering jumble of images that can’t be captured in a single photo – or even a thousand. Add to this kaleidoscopic mish-mash a cacophony of sound and an onslaught of fumes and perfumes, and you are hit by more sensations per second than a runaway roller-coaster ride.
It will be Diwali in two weeks and Indians are gearing up with the same fervor as westerners prepare for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Canada Day combined. Food, gifts and fireworks are flying off the market stalls and printers have signs up saying, “No more Diwali card orders – we’re fully booked.” But the fireworks are still being churned out by the million, and dozens of factories and stalls are crammed dangerously into a tight maze of squalid passages just waiting for a careless cigarette. The hastily scrawled “No smoking” signs pinned to electricity poles are little deterrent; but just cast an eye upward… One look at the tangle of live wires above a firework factory told us that we should run.
Delhi is a work in progress – we’re just not sure if it’s being constructed or dismantled. Every building, sidewalk and vehicle seems headed for the scrapheap, and the roadsides are littered with broken down clunkers of all types. The manager of our hotel explained with a sigh, “Nothing works in Delhi – only the new Metro.” He’s right – but give it time!