We are halfway into our India adventure, and therefore we believe it is time for an update! We are posting a lot of stories and pictures of our trips and beautiful hotspots, but we should be honest with you: that is not what our daily life looks like at all! So, why aren’t we posting more about our daily lives then? Simple answer: it is just not that interesting. The main reason why we are to India is because Stephan is conducting his thesis research here. So, unfortunately we are not full-time travelling and most of the time we spend working in Noida*. In this blog post we tell you more about how we experience living here and about our feelings of Delhi. Also, we included some pictures which are not very beautiful, but will instead give you a better impression of the city and our lives here!
*Noida is the city we live in and where Stephan’s office is located. It is part of the Delhi National Capital Region, and because Delhi is more well-known we prefer to use that name.
What do we think of Delhi?
We like it and we don’t like it at the same time. Delhi has many beautiful places to discover, way more than most tourists think. It’s nice that we have more time around here to explore all those places, which we often do in the weekends. There are several touristic places which are always very crowded, but there are also many which are not that well-known, and are thus very pleasant to explore.
But on the other hand, the city is big, busy, chaotic, and dirty – an environment that is completely the opposite of where we both have grown up and where we prefer to live in. The city is very overpopulated, and has to process all the people commuting to work, school, family, or other places. These people all use bicycles, motors, rickshaws, horses, tuktuks, taxi’s, cars, busses or the metro, and the infrastructure is not really adapted to so many people yet. If we go to the centre of Delhi by taxi, it often takes an hour because the distances are quite large and because the roads are always crowded. Also, it’s never quiet! We live next to a busy street and you will always hear the horns of cars and motors. In our first blog (which you can find here) we already wrote about the crazy traffic in Delhi, and we are still amazed about this craziness.
Then there is the dirt. You don’t only experience this on the street (where you must watch out not stepping into cow dung, rotting waste, or dirty water from the sewer) but also inside the house. You’ll find dust and smog everywhere! We don’t live in a very luxurious apartment, so the windows don’t shut properly and there are cracks and holes in several places. Cleaning should therefore be a daily business; it is only too bad we don’t like cleaning that much. So instead our feet are always dirty when we walk bare feet. We always need to double check a plate when we take it from the cupboard in the kitchen, because most of the time there is some new dust on it. Also, for some reason we are not able to properly clean our kitchen table, as it stays greasy and dusty. And every now and then we have a sudden attack from a huge colony of small ants in our kitchen, of which we have no idea where they are coming from (and we live on the third floor, so they cannot come from our garden as we don’t have one).
In the meantime, we prefer not to think about the impact of this environment on our health. It sounds cliché, but when you are in a different place you always start to appreciate what you have at home. When we lived in Utrecht we complained many times about the bad air quality of that city (which feels like a village now), but that was nothing compared to Delhi! The air quality here is literally dangerous, which this interesting but also alarming YouTube video shows. Many people in Delhi also suffer from health problems which are caused by this pollution (check out this article if you want to know more).
What are we doing, besides travelling?
Stephan is mostly at the office from 9-18h where he works on his thesis research. Besides writing and analyzing data, he needs to get in touch with people from businesses and government institutions to retrieve his data – a task that is not easy at all in India! Not only does he encounter communication problems, but often when you want to reach out to big companies or institutions you must know people who can introduce you to others. This takes a lot of time. For example, one day he took a taxi to a university where he would meet 2 people, with whom he would visit another company. One person worked at the university and was therefore present, but the other one did not show up until after 3 hours. Meanwhile, it was so late that there was no time anymore to visit the other company, and they decided to make a visit there some other day. So, it took Stephan 3 hours of travelling, and 3 hours of waiting to receive absolutely NOTHING! One other time he managed to get a meeting in a company, but only after the father of a colleague from Stephan – who is retired now but used to have a very important function within that company – managed to get an appointment. This all shows how difficult it is to get work done here!
Heleen is involved in the school we live next to. This is a private school, but only 5 minutes from here they have another location where they give free education to people who are not able to pay for good quality education themselves. At first, the school asked her to teach English, but as she is only here for several months and she is not qualified as a teacher, she denied that. Several other young ladies were already involved in researching and developing new projects for this school, so she joined them. However, almost similar to Stephan, it doesn’t always go as planned. There are a lot of communication problems, and just recently there was a rather big conflict between some of the ladies and the school, which lead to a halt of the project. Therefore, Heleen is now trying to conduct a small research herself for the school, but because of language- and cultural differences this is going slower than expected.
And what do we do when we don’t work?
Well, Noida is not a very interesting city to live in, as it is actually meant to be an industrial city and therefore contains many businesses and office buildings. The only nice things you can visit are big shopping malls, so that is what we do every now and then, to drink coffee, or have a haircut, or eat something, or just cool down (in the past weeks the temperature hits 40C degrees every day!). As mentioned before it takes us quite long to reach Delhi centre, so we don’t go there too often unfortunately. We are lucky to have a good hotel next to us where we can have a drink and nice food. And otherwise, we just enjoy ourselves with netflix series or reading books!
This all sounds a bit negative… Are there also positive things?
Sorry about that! We don’t want to be negative at all, and we are also enjoying this whole experience a lot. Concerning our work and projects we were rather disappointed in the beginning that it didn’t go as planned, but we soon accepted it and are now enjoying and appreciating every small step forward. However, concerning Delhi – we just need to admit that it is not the city where we could spend some more years. India in general is very beautiful though! We have seen many beautiful places, and we would have loved to travel around more as we believe that there are so much more amazing places to discover. In two weeks, we will go to the north for a weekend, where we will visit the holy Ganges. And in May, just before we fly back home, we will visit Nepal. Both trips are something that we are very much looking forward to, and we will of course share our stories and pictures of those trips here as well. Stay tuned!
Love, Heleen & Stephan