30 Mar 2005
DELHI ( part one)
We were lodged at the Hans Plaza Hotel at 15 Barakhamba road, New Delhi. Any visitor arriving Delhi for the first time cannot fail to notice the obsession for trees and flowers exhibited by inhabitants of this mega city. The streets are large and the city has two ring roads (inner and outer) surrounding it. There is extensive ongoing work on giant flyovers and underground railway system. In order to reduce pollution, taxis and city buses are compelledpers) and the main Sikh temple gave us an opportunity to appreciatel. An inscription on one of the public transport buses read; “world’s largest eco-friendly bus service; serving you for over 50 years”. On the streets I could observe a variety of car brands ranging from Hyundai, Maruti Suzuki, Tata, Honda, Toyota, Scorpio, Ford, Daewoo to Ambassador (India’s original car). In Delhi and most of India, you are most likely to hear of chowk (marketplace), or bazaar (variety shop) than market or shopping centre or even mall.
We paid a visit to India gate (war memorial monument) and also visited the area where important central government buildings like parliament, ministries and presidency were located. The Raj Ghat (Mahatma Gandhi cremation site) in my opinion is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Delhi. Our visit to two religious sites (Jamal Masjid Mosque in old Delhi with capacity for 20000 worshipers) and the main Sikh temple gave us an opportunity to appreciate the architectural and human diversities of these institutions and their occupants. We arrived at the main Sikh temple at the time some Sikhs from the Punjab came to demonstrate and air certain grievances. It was a very exciting spectacle to see thousands of turbaned and bearded people assembled together. At first sight they look frightful indeed but when you go closer to them you soon discover that they are receptive and friendly people. I seized the opportunity to take photographs with these people who (because of their looks) can often be mistaken to be the Ayatollahs and Bin Ladins of our world. (See photo of entrance to the Raj Ghat at following link)
In the evening of March 15 we had dinner away from the hotel and we were entertained with a variety of Indian dances. In the hall were also a group of Chinese tourists that shared the evening with us. Among the seven different dances were the ghoomer (wedding dance from Rajasthan), dandiya raas (stick dance from Gujarat) and gidda (celebrating dance from women of Punjab). In speeches during dinner, one of our colleagues praised the way Combelas (Laborex director and tour organizer) has handled the tour so far. Said he; “Il fait plus que son travail” meaning he is doing more than his job. In my opinion, he was only transmitting the opinion we all had. The cohesive and cooperative nature of the group was also praised.
We made a professional trip to one of Ranbaxy’s (pharmaceutical manufacturer) research and development units at Gurgaon. A company spokeswoman briefed us on certain aspects of the company. “Incorporated in 1961, Ranbaxy’s 2004 global sales amounted to $ 1.178 billion and objective is to attain $ 5 billion by 2012. More than 50% revenue comes from the U.S. and Europe. Global generic rank=9. Manpower is 9000 comprising of 15% non-Indian. Manufacturing units in 7 countries including Nigeria in Africa. The R&D section has a staff strength of 1100 comprising over 950 scientists out of which 320 have doctorate degrees. 7.47% of Ranbaxy’s 2004 expenditure was on research and development.” We made a tour of the facility and were shown the various compartments such as pre-formulation, instrument labs, dark room and chemistry labs. It was more of bla bla bla stuff of the academic world that is certainly not meant for people like me that do not have a stomach for pharmacy academic grammar.
A day was taken from our tours and put aside for shopping. Some colleagues contacted our tour guide (Gopal) to arrange a taxi for hire to Gurgaon for shopping at the bazaars based there. Gopal seized the opportunity and taxed us 1200 rupees (about 25 USD) for a taxi that we used for a total of 4.5 hours including shopping time of 3hours. I later found out that taxis cost between 500-600 rupees for use in 8 hours and covering a maximum distance of 80kms. At the end of the individual shopping day, it became easier to compare the difference between shopping independently and being guided.
In the evening of March 17, a farewell dinner was given to us that was marked with speeches and dance. As the rest of my group was heading for the airport for their flight to France, I took out my luggage from the bus as my own flight to Cameroon via Mumbai and Nairobi was 24 hours away. Curious Indians gathered to inquire why I was not going with the others? “I came here to look for a wife and if you people don’t give me one I will not leave India.” I answered. I could see a mixture of consternation and bemusement written on their faces.
Copyrightã2005 by Njei Moses Timah
Njei Moses Timah [e-mail]