Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Incredible Delhi!

It will be four weeks tomorrow since I arrived in New Delhi and it has been an experience and more to come, I am very sure.
Some of it has been pleasant and some could have been better.
However, I had not come here expecting a bed of roses. Besides, I came here to share my 29 years of experience in the Media especially having covered multi-sports Games namely, the Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Sea Games and having worked with a Sports Minister for two years and with the Tourism Ministry for a year. I am here to help them in anyway I can and I am proud that I have been given an opportunity to be part of the Games preparation.
I am attached with the Delhi 2010 Organising Committee's Press Operations team, headed by Manish Kumar, a former journalist in India.
He has a very young team, but a team who work very hard, dedicated and are passionate about their job. There is another foreign hire besides me and he is Stefan Thies, a German, (yes a German) who has been with the team since last year whose forte is athletics media work and mixed zones.
I have been enjoying my work here and Manish and his team has made me more than welcome in their team.
However, there are going to be tough days ahead before the Games, as everything is put in place and I am looking forward to be in the thick of action, as we try to put the best for the Media for the Games.
But in this blog, I would rather write about experiences outside my work which has left an impression on me.
Among the things that has virtually mesmerised me is the driving in New Delhi. I have heard a great deal of Indian driving, with many saying that if you can drive in India, one can drive anywhere in the world.
I thought so too , until I experienced it first hand.
Yes, it takes a great deal to be able to drive in New Delhi because it is free-for-all as everyone as the right to way.
No one stops at roundabouts or cross junctions, unless there is a traffic light. Even with the traffic lights, cars cut into the opposite lanes to make their right turns. Two way traffic flowing lanes become one, at the wink of the eye.
Of course, honking is part and parcel of the system. Buses, lorries and vans all have the words - HONK PLEASE - written at the back of their vehicles.
What amazed me was that no one gets angry or shows a finger at you. In Malaysia we have road bullies and if they come here to India, they will have their hands full!
Yes, almost every vechicle on the road has dents, but I have yet to see an accident in my four weeks!
My driver, a former State body building champion, Amit Malik, is a champion on the road too that I have named him "Amit the King of Delhi Roads! He manages to squeeze his Suzuki Wagon into the smallest of space available, stops the car millimeters behind cars, crosses lanes from right to left and left to right in jam packed road with ease and weaves in an out of the jam with such skills.
Never once has he abused anyone or has anyone abused him. And he is a safe driver - he does not speed!
And they do use the side rear mirrors on their cars.They are drawn inward. When I asked Amit, why they do not use the rear mirrors, he simply replied: "We will have to replace our mirrors everyday then Sir. We need every inch to get into tight spaces in the traffic and also we have all the motorcycles whom we have to worry about, because they too weave in and out."
However, the moment Amit got out of city zone, he had the side rear mirrors drawn out.
The driving maybe chaos, but I salute them for keeping the traffic moving and without any accidents!
When I told an senior officer in the Director-General's office, Anshul Kwatra, who has been to Malaysia, that he would have had a breeze driving in our country, he retorted: No, I did not. I had a nightmare!"
When asked him why did he have problems, he simply replied: "There are simply too many rules to follow!"
The other which has caught my attention while driving to and back from work, is all the work that is being done to get everything spick and span before the Games. These include the Metro Line from the Airport to the city, the roadworks to widen the roads, installing new street lights, the pavements, retaining walls and all the beautifying projects.

It saddens me to see all the women working carrying bricks and cement on top of their heads, some have their children tagging them and working under the sweltering sun.
Sometimes I wonder with no modern machinery and depending solely on the work force, whether they can get everything ready.

But with each passing day, that thought has been erased because of the pace of work that is done.
There have been days when I go to work in the morning, the workers would just be digging to lay the payments or walls, but when I return in the evening, I see a well laid pavement or even a  retaining wall erected!

When I asked why modern machinery was not used to do the work, the reply was: "What will happen to all these people. They will not have a job!"
When the Commonwealth Games is held here in October and everything is in place, many of the visitors will not know the crucial role these workers had played to bring the Games to New Delhi.
I would like to salute these workers in advance and thank them on behalf of all the visitors who are going to see a "new" Delhi and enjoy the fruits of their labour!
This in "Incredible India" where the impossible is made possible!

1 comment:

Chua Hong Tam said...

Dear Tony

You choose the correct title for your article, as the tag line for Tourism India ia also Incredible India.

Keep us updated on preparations and also any other information that might help the teams (not necessarily Malaysia only) going to Delhi in late September and early October 2010.

All the best. Take care