Notes from a year in Delhi
New Delhi & Lahiri & Strang & Carson
by Thomas K. Girard
Night was day when I arrived in Delhi,
I packed safely, but quickly found my water bottle missing as I pushed through the crowd
and approached a Delhi walla.
My eyes adjusted.
I tried to get a read but all I could see
was a tattered collared polo and waving and shouting and brown skin. Jet lag
hit hard as I got in the taxi,
the ambassador taxi.
I had given up. I just wanted out of
I transited through Shanghai. My ex-wife was there.
We started driving and the screaming and shouting fanned off.
I wondered how
he could pretend he knew where we were going. “Delhi is big you know?” India is big, he meant.
Eventually we pulled up and I went in.
“Can I help you?”
The friendly voice behind the desk.
It occurred to me it was some sort of Internet cafe.
I shoved him over and typed some words into his personal computer.
“Hotel. Delhi. New Rajendra Nagar”
We eventually did arrive that night.
What seemed like big wins that first week
at the hotel were not.
Walking one block in either direction of the hotel.
Eating sparsely from the hotel buffet.
Learning the hotel wifi password.
It was hot and I was sweating.
I desperately wanted to do laundry.
Some emails came through about the class
I was supposed to start teaching,
I quickly clicked through them.
I ordered more bottled water.
The HR, Punita came to pick me up
with her husband some mornings later.
She came to greet me in the small lobby of the hotel
and we walked out to the car.
Full of energy I was whisked off
to the college gates
where we drove onto the college grounds.
When I put water to my face black soot exfoliated.
I shouldn’t be walking outside.
I had heard a story of colleagues getting exercise
by walking around shopping malls.
I hopped in a rickshaw
and about an hour later was dropped off way outside the city.
That’s where I discovered
Vasant Kunj was a district with three shopping malls and a hotel.
The first mall was quite nice and familiar.
It felt like home.
Through a courtyard that first mall connected to a second mall.
Okay this was a bit nicer.
Then you transited to the third mall.
The third mall
was where I spent most of my time.
I had a routine in the third mall.
I usually ordered 3 different muffins with marmalade and butter,
a good strong Americano,
and a spot where I looked around at people looking at me,
who in turn looked at each other.
It was a bit awkward
but when I returned home my mouth wasn’t caked with dust,
and I could in a way forget that it was
and I was in India,
which was a good thing at that time.
I bought socks at Paul Smith
and walked into
where they greeted me as Mr. Girard.
Mariangela lived in Vasant Vihar,
a diplomatic neighbourhood
with green trees and quiet side streets.
One evening after a stint at the expat grocery store
we made chicken soup
from a Martha Stewart recipe.
Mariangela had a cold
and it seemed like the obvious thing to do.
She lit candles on the terrace
while I checked on the broth.
“Should I book the Meru cab?”
I served the broth made with chicken breast and relaxed for a bit.
The mosquito coils
gave off a swizzle
as well as aroma.
The whole thing felt spiritual.
I wondered if it was.
The flat at Vasant Vihar
sat on top of a modest house.
informed me that she had to get someone to carry up the water cooler
to the rooftop,
and that it was probably made for a housekeeper
as I walked through and adorned the Indian style furniture
and collection of sculptural conversation pieces,
There was no
in New Delhi yet. I propped open my 13 inch
so we could watch
Oblivion, my favourite New Delhi discovery.
I liked Tom Hanks charm.
was in Khan Market
and part of my self imposed diet items was a margarita pizza and a fresh lime soda mixed,
so I haggled over rupees
auto rickshaw driver
so I could get down there.
Thomas Girard (born 30 December, 1980 in Vancouver) is a Canadian scholar. Girard was accepted to attend the University of Oxford in lectures equivalent to graduate coursework. Girard has received several Emerging Scholar awards, first at the Design Principles and Practices conference in Barcelona at the prestigious ELISAVA. At Emily Carr University of Art and Design he received his second Emerging Scholar award. Other awards include RBC Emerging Scholar, Royal Bank of Canada Foundation. For 2021, he has been awarded an Emerging Scholar award from the New Directions in the Humanities conference in Madrid. He is a 2022 graduate of the Graduate Liberal Studies programme at Simon Fraser University. Editor’s note: Thomas Girard has also written three essays for The BC Review, User experience & Sophocles, Teaching typography in quarantine (also to be presented here), and Podiums, prototypes, and Plato. He has also reviewed a book by Ron Wakkary.
The British Columbia Review
Publisher and Editor: Richard Mackie
Formerly The Ormsby Review, The British Columbia Review is an on-line journal service for BC writers and readers. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Wade Davis, Robin Fisher, Cole Harris, Hugh Johnston, Kathy Mezei, Patricia Roy, Maria Tippett, and Graeme Wynn. Provincial Government Patron (since September 2018): Creative BC. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies.
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