Foreign Correspondent: Tennille Duffy
Aussie Lawyer Tennille Duffy lives in Delhi. Here she shares her tips for life in India’s bustling capital.
Name: Tennille Duffy
Occupation: Lawyer/Consultant for Human Rights NGO (non-government organisation)
Where do you live?: Delhi, India.
Why did you move there?: For this job. I applied for the experience and the adventure of living overseas.
What do you love about your town/city?: The energy of the place is manic – you either swim with the current or you drown. India forces you to let go in a lot of ways and just let it happen.
What is the most frustrating thing about your town/city?: There are countless frustrating things about Delhi, and I can see why a lot of people would dislike being here. But to enjoy Delhi, you have to let go of your frustrations about things like the dirt and dust, the infrastructure (or lack thereof) the rude rickshaw drivers, and the traffic. What I really don’t like, and find upsetting rather than frustrating, are the disabled beggars that approach you when you’re stopped at traffic lights. I can say that is the one thing that I have found you just can’t be prepared for. One small thing that frustrates me, however, is the lack of nutritional information on food – it’s non-existent, often there is not even a list of ingredients.
What is the predominant faith in your area?: Hindu
How does it affect your day-to-day life?: I wouldn’t say it affects my day to day life so much – apart from the effort required to get past all the cars parked at the temple near my house, or the 2am fireworks from weddings – but you do notice religious expression everywhere. There are a lot of different faiths in India – Hindu, Muslin, Sikh, Jain, Christian, etc – and this is a country where people wear their religion on their sleeve.
Please describe typical local food: We get lunch delivered to the office everyday for 25 rupees (that’s just over 50c Australian) from a tiffin service. It’s a typical vegetarian meal of plain basmati rice, roti (flat rounds of warm bread), a vegetable dish and dhal (a dish of lentils or some other pulse, like chickpeas, in a spiced sauce). On good days, we get paneer – a kind of Indian firm, cottage cheese that is cooked in a sauce with other vegetables. One of the best things about Delhi, though, is that you can find food here from all the different regions in India.
Are there any major attractions in your town? If so, what are they?: Old Delhi contains many attractions such as the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid, but the old city is an attraction in itself. Delhi is full of countless religious temples and monuments from the various dynasties, emperors and rulers that have controlled Delhi over the centuries – from the Tughluks to the British.
What do the locals do for fun?: Going to the market is a major activity here – you don’t just go to the shops quickly to get something. You head to the market, you look around, negotiate with the various shopkeepers and vendors, have something to eat; it can take a whole day or evening! Of course, Indians love their cinema and Bollywood movies.
Do you have any tips or advice for people visiting Delhi?: Come when the weather is mild – Delhi is a difficult enough city without battling full day power cuts and water shortages when it’s over 40 degrees Celsius. Be prepared for everything to take time as nothing happens quickly in India. And if you’re a woman, especially a white woman, dress modestly. You will be stared at, but you will be more comfortable if you have your shoulders, knees and chest covered. Scarves are a packing essential!
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