Another Drunken Day In Delhi

Before I return to my travelogue, a few links: Pierre C. sends us this story about epidemiplogists using financial data to track outbreaks. Matt V. sends us a similar storyhere.

Brother Bhash sends us this excellent online database for finding Indian indentured labourers lost to history!

And my personal gift to you is this video of William Shatner channelling Elton John.

Today began with Assim warning me not to look back. Of course I did, and was greeted with a gaggle of hijras (transvestites/transsesxuals/eunuchs) checking me out. Welcome to India, land of complex sexuality. (I still maintain they were checking out Assim; he’s the ex-model, after all.)

I continue to be fascinated by the newer Indian music videos, whose production quality equals and often exceeds that of the West, while the gyrating bodies onscreen are owned by some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen.

With these images in my head, I returned to Lodi Gardens, the Islamic tomb complex we used to frequent 10 years ago on my last visit. It’s one of the only places in India where you’ll find people jogging and dogs walked as beloved pets. The drive here revealed more changes that have taken place since my last visit: there are many fewer beggars (perhaps the government has done away with them somehow?), the roads are of immaculate quallity, and there is much more greenery. I predict that in 25 years, Delhi will be as clean as Toronto or New York or Paris… though it will be the poor who will pay the price for this cleanliness.

We were treated to the sounds of a theatre group rehearsing their songs while huddled in the corner of an outdoor amphitheatre. This, too, is the face of the new India, where young people gather in public in the evenings to explore their art in a melange of modern and traditional contexts.

The highlight of the day came as Assim took us to a holy Muslim place tucked away apart from the tourist road. It is a collection of ancient tombs (including the body of Shahjehan’s daughter) and a living mosque; I was permitted to enter the inner sanctum and pray over what I think was a well covered dead body. All rather creepy and fascinating… and quite beautiful.

I have just returned from clubbing at a disco called Dublin, which apparently hosts only certain wealthy families in Delhi. Here is where the diktat of youth finds an exception: money rules, and the rich tend to be older. So the club is populated by a spattering of foreigners (me), the scions of wealthy families and, of course, their elder siblings. So the average age is bumped up into the 40s. In fact, there’sa 50-ish fellow dressed like Jerry Lewis who thinks he’s the hottest thing around. I wish I had a photo.

One more drunken night in Delhi. Time to play my sitar and drift off to sleep…

UPDATE: I forgot to add that in the middle of one of Delhi’s frightening traffic jams, I saw a government car nudged by an offending Honda. Instantly the government types tried to spring from their car, including a fellow weilding a large machine gun. But their doors were pinned in by the traffic! Honda boy managed to escape.

UPDATE 2: Let me cryptically add that my French is proving more useful than my Hindi so far. I tells ya, it’s a great joy to have some proficiency in more than one language. Hear that kids?