Sunday, January 27, 2008

Delhi Nights

In an area called Defense Colony in South Delhi, I held a table at Barista where a cartwheeling four-year-old out my window gyrated in competition for attention with James Joyce sitting before me. While her smile lit up when I’d turn my head, I knew the futility of her act, and was saddened by the cold fact that it was driven by penury, and demanded by her mother. I turned my gaze back to the reflective words of Joyce on the page that had been before me for minutes, my thoughts tumbling through all but the storyline. I joke that my still reading the book “Dubliners” a week into Delhi is a testament to the Dublin pub life.

After a short wait my friend from Stanford arrives, and we catch up over tales of and the World Bank. I appreciate good company, old stories, and the broad smile she brings into an otherwise solitary weekend. She’s responsible for the Bank’s Malarial medication outreach on the sub-continent and reflects on the difficulty of compliance. A few hours pass and we walk to a nearby friend’s apartment in Defense Colony. I like to call Defense Colony the Coronado of Delhi because similarly, as you probably would not wish to provoke a bar fight with a Navy SEAL, there is a history of martial population. This is an interesting contrast to the Lotus Temple, a Baha'i house of worship and peace, that I visited earlier in the afternoon.

On an outdoor balcony, and over a few Kingfishers we discuss Punjab and Joyce. I reflect on Delhi with Dubliners. Making our way to another nearby home where two friends are throwing a party, the surprise of serendipity strikes again as a friend from work, and another Indian girl whom I’ve met at the gym saunter into the small living room gathering 10k miles from California. The crew is comprised of UNDP workers, members of the World Bank and French and Dutch embassies. Fulbrighters and venture capitalists, microfinance, and those fighting age by adopting a remote life wherein adventure can preserve youth.

I feel at home with this group, and I’m invited to join a local football team called “CNG Car” with Dublin backs, an Italian keeper, and the promise of letting me play up top.

No comments: