New Delhi Newb

Helen Angell

I arrived in Delhi two weeks ago, where I will be staying until December 1st. After two months studying sustainable development and social change in India together, the 18 of us at SIT have been kicked out of our Jaipur program nest and sent to all four corners of India to fend for ourselves, and in the process hopefully manage to write a 30-page research paper on the topic of our choice.  I’m looking at the forced slum evictions that occurred before and during New Delhi’s 2010 Commonwealth Games, and how one  particular community has experienced the long-term effects of the evictions and resettlement. Luckily Delhi is a prime location for research, so I am happily living with six other SIT students during this month of independent research, which means we’ve be able to fend for each other.

Our first week here was a flurry of settling in to our hostel, contacting potential interviewees, and of course exploring the city, which is fast becoming a youthful, cosmopolitan, artsy metropolis. Between being able to wear western clothes, attending an outdoor arts festival, nom-ing on hummus bagels (Real BAGELS! So much joy!), and riding the spotlessly clean metro, parts of Delhi can trick you into forgetting that this is a  reality the vast majority of India simply can’t experience. Even the majority of those living in Delhi.

And Delhi’s desire to become an attractive city for India’s youthful middle class has been problematic, especially for the people I’m researching. On one Sunday afternoon I sipped a iced mocha in a posh cafe while reading about how Delhi’s dreams of becoming a well-developed middle-class paradise have displaced thousands of its marginalized slum residents, who have been replaced by shopping malls and highway overpasses. The irony was not lost on me.


But overall I’ve been enjoying India’s capital city. I really do like Delhi. Except for the weather. Here is Delhi weather explained in poem form:


In Delhi, I

Can’t see sun or sky

Like Seattle, only I’m wearing sweat not sweaters.

Foggy or smoggy?


P.S. You can read about my adventures in Sikkim, Bikaner and Jodhpur on my personal blog (lots of photos!)