Drum Circle

drummer gatheringEvery now and again a whole bunch of people with hand-drums come together in Deer Park, Haus Khaz. All other instruments are also welcome: I spotted a wooden flute, tambourines, mini-trumpets, a selfmade metal drumkit, a didgeridoo, a rattle, as well as a lot of clapping hands and tapping feet. Whoever feels inspired, goes into the middle of the circle and dances.

dancing and drumming

The people who play the jam session aren’t a band, and from time to time someone left and others came. But despite this, and the fact that everybody had a different instrument, it all seemed to be coordinated. Sometimes the beat would pick up pace and then die down again, or someone would chose an alternative beat, but still fit in. Amazing.

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Forearms like concrete

Climbing! Before I moved to India, I so had the plan to go rock climbing in Delhi that I even brought my harness and talcum powder over from Germany. But then I didn’t find a partner and somehow forgot the idea. Until I met Franzi.

tower in the midst of a lot of greenWhen that we had found each other, we needed a wall. One can’t be too picky in Delhi, because the climbing scene is tiny and no commercial halls have been built till date (as far as we know). So the only option is to go to the tower of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation.

Set in a lovely park, the tower wasn’t climbed on when we arrived – because the guys allow themselves a lunch break from 12am to 4pm. Lucky us, we happend to arrive shortly before they opened up again…  that is, when they slowly start hooking in all the ropes, lay the harnesses out, do some yoga….

Meanwhile I tried to understand what all the people in the big building of the Mountaineering Foundation behind the tower were doing, if they organise some hiking trips in the Himalayas, do climbing camps, glacier training or just weekend trips around Delhi. But nothing like that. All they actually do is issuing permits for tours in the mountains, a guy explained us. All other things we should do ourselves – or ask the commercial operators in the hill stations.

Finally the tower was set up and we could start. But of course not after filling in some forms and writing in a big book. Then we were provided with an instructor who had to supervise us. Interesting: Whereas we in Germay are used to check the partner’s knot and harness before climbing and give a signal at the top when we want to come down, here in India the most important part is the verbal check when the climber wants to start at the bottom. We later saw why: Chances are that the partner is still talking on the phone or writing a message and not paying attention at all.

climbersUnfortunately for us one side of the tower is extremely overhanging with routes far out of our reach, one side is used for speed climbing with a tour too difficult for us, one side is very short and very easy and the remaining side sports a peeling surface with greasy, sometimes spinning grips. And there seem to be not enough grips of one colour to mark a whole route so that everybody has to remember which grip belongs to which route. Difficult.

Despite all this, we had a lot of fun – until our forearms were too solid way too soon. Then we hardened them even more at the boulder wall. But when the sun set, we couldn’t hold onto even the biggest grips any longer and had to give up. But we’ll be back soon. To ensure this, we invested some money and went into an outdoor shop to buy us climbing shoes.

Holi shit!

Nikoleta in colours

“Noooo!”, I shouted, when I heard that the Holi Cow Festival was cancelled due to the “likelihood of a terror attack in the National Capital Region”. But lucky me: The organisers of the Holiguns Festival didn’t think the danger was so big. So we went there instead.

Nikoleta, Franzi and I managed to get to the place, a farmhouse in the Southwest of the city, without a speck of colour – even though kids and teens were roaming the streets at the festival Holi, throwing colourful powder at all that moved and emptied their water guns on every unaware passerby.

But inside it didn’t take long until our skin and clothes had their first encounters with bright yellow, pink, green and violet. We somehow managed to get away from the buckets of water. Well… except Nikoleta, who had someone empty a bottle of purple water over her head.

On the big lawn the deejay was a bearded old man who – with his orange dress and his uncombed and pinned hair – looked more like a holy Sadhu than a master of electronic music. But he gave us decent, deep techno.

The other stage was inherited by people that physically made their music: a funny french guy who got us dancing with his guitar and sing-along songs, as well as a band that looked like rock but played mostly reggae.

And just when we were about to leave, they set up a mixer console at the second stage as well – and the guy played a set that could have just be flown in from any Open Air in Berlin. I felt like being in heaven.

 

White Beaches in the Mountains

Sleeping in a tent at the waterfront, sunbathing while reading a book, fun in the water – sounds like a coastal holiday? Well, it wasn’t. In fact Sachin, Pradeep, Nikoleta and I drove in the opposite direction: into the Himalayas.

We stayed in a camp on the riverbank some 30 kilometers behind Rishikesh. Under our feet, one of the finest sands I have ever felt, above us, forested steep slopes, in front of us, the mighty Ganga in its (at this point still) glacier-turquoise colour.

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We set out for rafting. First we had to paddle crazy figures, then we travelled standing on the rim of the boat, in between we screamed of joy and cold when waves swashed into the boat, every now and then we jumped into the water and floated at amazing speed downstream and eventually we had to carry the boat on our shoulders up the bank.

As always when some fun sports is involved, I couldn’t restrain and enjoyed jumping into the water over and over again. My laughter must have been so fetching, that a guy from another boat called: “You are beautiful!” Thanks!

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Obviously the weekend was over too soon. And while we were driving down the winding road back to Delhi, I wondered why not more people have holidays on rivers. The scenery is far better, it is quieter, more exclusive, the tent (or hotel) is closer to the water, climate is more pleasant (at least in India). Whatever, I won’t promote it. You can also leave the Ganges to us.

Or maybe it is so undiscovered by foreigners because it takes Indian nerves to get there. Eight hours of reckless driving for a mere 280 kilometers from the capital. Over bumpy roads and through countless situations that course cardiac arrests.

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Findings on my jogging track

red flowers from a tree

“Dear Customer,

welcome to the exclusive world of Titanium Rewards Debit Card”, the letter from Axis Bank reads. And oh year, it really seems to be exclusive. So exclusive actually that the bank nearly drove me crazy before I got the card. But from the beginning.

When it was about time to open a bank account, I contacted my landlord, who is the manager of the A-block club and an important man in my residential quarter. With me in tow he stomped into his relationship bank, raised an alarm and proclaimed loudly that I, his tenant, need a bank account. Now. I felt humble.

In his presence the paperwork was surprisingly easy – for Indian standards, obviously. I only had to hand in my lease agreement, a passport copy, a copy of my visa and the letter that states I got the visa, a copy of the residence letter of the Foreign Regional Registration Office, a copy of the tax card, a copy of my employment contract and several photographs. But I came prepared.

Then, as it is usual in India, the address must be checked. So a young lady and her male colleague came to my office to see if I’m really there. I was. This habit still makes me wonder, because I want to give them my money, not the other way round. Shouldn’t I go and check them out? But anyway, all would be done soon, the young woman promised.

But how soon is soon in India? After a couple of weeks, I called and heard empty promises. I walked in the bank branch and heard empty promises. I made my landlord call and he heard empty promises. Every time the lady told me: Tomorrow.

One day, she didn’t say “tomorrow”. She asked me to come and fill in some forms. Apparently I filled in the wrong ones in the beginning, namely the ones for locals, not for foreigners – but I’m officially a resident of India, so I don’t see the difference. Well, they do.

Next time she asked me to come with some copies of my passport. But wait, I said, you already have these copies. Yes, she replied, but you have to sign on them. So I went to the bank and signed.

Ready to clear? N0. She needs an address in Germany, the young lady told me the next time. But I’m a resident of India, I responded, now really unpatiently. Anyway, she said. What to do? I finally gave her a payslip that has my name as well as the address of my company in Hamburg. It worked.

And then…. tataaa: The account got cleared.

Exploring Old Delhi and it’s people… once again

Of Penguins and Owls

Two month after moving into my flat, I finally managed to have a little house-warming party. The first two guests that arrived were shoved into the kitchen and instructed to do the preparations. They turned out to be artists – and we all enjoyed eating their work. Many thanks!

An original Angela Merkel in India

Angela Merkel

The German chancellor signed the painting during a church kongress in Kassel for the butterflies children of Delhi (a social project) – and they brought it to India.

Wise Guys rock the German School in Delhi

Wise Guys concert

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