Posts Tagged ‘Connaught Place’

Letter From New York 03 25 15 First full day in Delhi…

March 25, 2015

It is late afternoon in Delhi and I am just back at India International Center where I am staying, after spending the afternoon with my friend Raja Choudury. We made a drive past Connaught Place where I commented that it was much better looking than I remembered it. He said yes, they had done much to clean it up over the last years. It was, twenty years ago, one of the great shopping areas of Delhi but it also looked like a rundown claptrap of a place. Now it is white and shiny again.

We went on from there to the Oberoi Hotel where we lunched at Taipan, a dim sum restaurant on the top floor with views out across Delhi, the sky tinged with the pollution for which the city is famous. It was a long and leisurely lunch; with Raja catching me up on the work he is doing, including the launching of a new web adventure, onegreatidea.com.

This was the first time that Raja and I had met in person. We have known each other for years. He encountered me on LinkedIn and asked me for some help with a project that he was working on, which I was, luckily, able to provide. We have continued talking and skypeing but in all this time we haven’t met each other in person so today was a good day.

Tomorrow, all of India will come to almost to a halt. It is the day of a cricket game between India and Australia and is, according to reports, the biggest game in years. A huge number of Indians are going to call in sick. It’s the game NOT to be missed, a bit like asking people to work during the Super Bowl in the U.S.

So I should be able to get around quite easily tomorrow. I am going to delve into my tour books and determine what I would like to see. Today, I visited India Gate and drove by the President’s House and the Houses of Parliament, great, grand structures built in the last days of the Raj. Back then; I think the President’s House was the Viceroy’s Palace.

It was in the 90’s here but not yet humid so it didn’t feel so bad. In my room, I have the air conditioning running and the fan turning. The IIC, India International Center, is a private club on the nature of the Yale Club or Harvard Club in New York though very Indian in feel. The accommodations are nice if rather Spartan compared with the Oberoi but very adequate with excellent Wi-Fi.

As far as I can tell, I am the only American staying here; the rest are from all over India. In the bar, groups huddle together discussing business or art. Last night, I read and sipped Johnny Walker.

Being in India, I am very careful about the water. No ice cubes. I only drink what can be drunk neat.

This morning there was an Indian paper at my door, mostly filled with news I had read online before going of to bed.

Getting back from tour round Delhi, I went online and found the, to me, blockbuster news that Heinz and Kraft Foods are to merge, becoming Heinz Kraft, in a deal nurtured by legendary investor Warren Buffet with a Brazilian investment company.

My, oh my!

There is a new Steve Jobs biography out, “Becoming Steve Jobs” that is reputedly better than Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs.” He still comes across as monumentally conflicted but a bit more human, according to reviews.

In a case of life imitating art, Jon Hamm, Don Draper in “Mad Men,” has just exited a 30-day program for alcohol rehab. Years of playing the world’s most famous alcoholic may have found its reflection in Hamm’s own life. I wish him well. The last season of “Mad Men” starts soon.

In the category of the world is challenging: The UN last year announced that same sex married couples could receive the same benefits of married straight couples. Russia introduced a resolution to withdraw benefits from same sex married couples. 43 countries, including India, China and the UAE, supported it. It was defeated. 80 countries voted against the resolution and 37 abstained.

The day is drawing to a close as the day begins in America. I am going to work on my speech again and then go read for a while before an early night. I feel good but one more good’s night sleep would be a great thing.

Letter From New York 03 24 15 Arrived in New Delhi…

March 24, 2015

It is 5:30 here in Delhi; the sun is beginning to set, as my usual world is just getting ready to go to work. I arrived safely after a good flight and a few hours sleep on the plane but was very tired after checking in at the India International Center where I am staying for a few days. I laid down for an hour’s nap but hit the snooze alarm enough that it was two hours before I got back into the world.

It was reported that short naps could improve memory five fold. I hope that is true; I was feeling pretty foggy by the time I laid down.

While I haven’t seen much yet of Delhi, I have seen enough to know that it has changed since I was here ten years ago and is vastly different from when I was here twenty-one years ago.

When I arrived at Delhi International Airport in 1995, I realized I had stepped into a movie I had never seen before. It was wildly chaotic. It was the middle of the night and, despite that, the airport was swarming with people, all yelling and screaming. The airport buildings themselves were tired and not very clean, barren, looking like something out of a 1940’s Humphrey Bogart movie, possibly co-starring Ingrid Bergman.

Today, I arrived at an airport that looked pretty much like any other major airport in the world, being swept by moving sidewalks along the way to immigration and customs. It wasn’t this way even ten years ago.

I was genuinely amazed.

My friend Sanjay sent a driver to pick me up and bring me to my hotel and we wove through the streets of Delhi where the roads have radically improved though, while lanes are clearly marked, the drivers seem to not to notice. It takes nerves of steel to drive in Delhi. I said so to Joginder, the man who picked me up. He smiled tightly.

It was not long before the beggars started coming up to the car and asking for money, always a moment of existential crisis for me, though at this point I had no rupees to give them.   On the drive to the hotel there were fewer beggars than I remember from before when they assaulted one at every turn.

Tomorrow I will be doing some sightseeing. I would like to return to walk around Connaught Place, where I have not been for twenty years and see the changes there.

Here to talk about media as having the ability to empower individuals, the Supreme Court has announced a major court case regarding freedom of speech on the Internet. Section 66A of the Technology Act has been declared unconstitutional, claiming it infringed on free speech. It allowed authorities to make arrests based on their interpretation of social media postings.

While I was safely winging my way to Delhi, an Airbus crashed in the Alps. No one is expected to survive. It was on its way to Germany from Barcelona. I give those passengers and crew a moment of silence.

Long absent from the offensive on Tikrit in Iraq has been air support from the US led coalition. Apparently now there are at least surveillance flights happening, giving direction to troops on the ground. Air strikes may soon follow.

In Mosul, IS is dissembling the city’s cement factories and moving them deeper into their territory as the push by Iraq to take Tikrit seems on the verge of success.

Israel has been accused by some in the US of spying on the Iran Nuclear negotiations and then giving that information to US Congressmen in hopes of undermining the negotiations. Israel denies it. If true, it marks a new low in the relationship with Israel.

Now we know Israel spies on us and we spy on Israel. We spy on everyone. We hacked Angela Merkel’s mobile phone. What makes this a bit different in the eyes of some is that Israel may have shared the information with lawmakers.

What did Rodney King say after the LA Riots: can’t we all get along?

The light is fading in New Delhi and I have work to do on my speech while I have hopefully improved my memory by my nap.