Month: July 2012

The Olympics

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Olympics-01With the Olympics upon us and all the worlds eyes on London the AIG have, like most sports fans, settled in when they can to get their dose of the four-yearly event. The first thing you notice about the Olympic coverage in India is how broad and diverse it is.  If you thought that week one of the Olympics was “the swimming week” I can share with you the truth that it doesn’t have to be.

In India the big name Olympic hopefuls are in shooting, boxing, wrestling and badminton.  Watch out for Abinhav Bindra and Gagan Narang in the 10m air rifle and the indomitable Rondan Singh Sodhi in the double trap. In boxing the story of Mary Kom is intriguing, a five-time world champion Mary would have surely been an Olympic medalist in the past if only her sport were included in the games. Now finally with the chance, will age deny her?  Keep an eye on the Women’s flyweight on August 5th to find out.

An Unexpected Treat

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Yoga-01The AIG was treated to a wonderful afternoon at the Sivananda Yoga Centre located in Gurgaon, one of Delhi’s four major satellite cities. Led by Yogacharya Arun Pandala, who instructs over 1000 classes a year, the team learned basic positions, breathing techniques, and participated in Shavasana, a form of concentrated meditation where one is conscious yet not awake. Our only regret was we had not done this sooner, as each team member relished the opportunity for peaceful inner reflection.

Much thanks to Arun of the Sivananda Yoga Centre and to our wonderful hosts (and friends!) for organizing the entire event, supporting us with our home visits, and putting up with all of our last minute requests and changes to the agenda. Your hospitality was truly appreciated. Looking forward to next time!

The Bicycle Rickshaw

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BRAll over Delhi, from the busiest freeways to the most crowded markets you can see bicycle rickshaws plying their trade.  This type of rickshaw has many benefits over other forms of Delhi transport not least the serene nature of the journey itself which brings involuntary smiles to the passengers.  Always wanting to reach a deeper level of understanding the AIG sent Kiwi out to investigate further which resulted in an ecstatic rickshaw owner finding himself being peddled around the market by what he could only assume was an insane tourist.  The verdict “this is a bloody hard job”.

The Smallest Market in the World

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img_8485Throughout Delhi, wherever you look capitalism reigns. The most notable evidence of this to western eyes is easily the street stall markets that seem to be everywhere you look.  A combination of small sheds, tables and wheeled trolleys using the sidewalk (or road) for their shop space. What really surprises you  is the diversity of shop that is represented in these markets; hairdressers, stationers, electronics and even small manufacturers. AIG have been using a local market printer who’s shed is taken up almost entirely with a large floor standing colour laser printer.  To give you some context of the size of his shop, when he has to replace the paper in Tray 1, he has to step outside.

One off the bucket list

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The local watering hole near the office is now the team’s favorite bar in the world. We learned a few things about this Caribbean beach themed blues bar last night. Decor consists of cut-out Styrofoam fish, tiki awnings and Halloween decorations. The reggae imagery adorned menu features Indian, Mexican and Italian food and includes one dish named “the chef’s sister’s recommendation combo.” King Fishers all around!

Fortunately, we arrived on Karaoke night. There was a table Indian business men singing their hearts out to a mixture of Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, System of a Down and, of course, Coldplay. The regulars, who may or may not be part of a hair band, know how to put on a good show too. Now we can all cross “Eat Italian in a Caribbean themed blues bar while listening to Indian business men singing heavy metal” off the bucket list.

Delhi and the Future

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Construction-01Delhi is one of the fastest emerging cities on the Indian subcontinent with an average yearly economic growth rate of over 10% per year for the last five years. Because of this, any time spent in the metropolis leaves you with the feeling that you have somehow arrived a little too early and that the city isn’t quite finished. Wherever you look there is construction, apartment buildings, metro lines, hotels and shopping complexes, all covered in scaffolding and buzzing with workers.  Construction work in Delhi is often a family affair with groups living in the building they work on during the day. After dusk most of the sites in the Defense Colony are alive with temporary wood fired stoves cooking chapattis for the workers and setting up for the night. If the Defense Colony is a bellwether for the Indian economy as a whole then the future looks bright and undoubtedly different. All the AIG hopes is that they will get a chance to come back and see their old neighborhood in a few years time.