Living / Working in Delhi, and the Importance of Getting Out
Delhi isn't exactly on your typical bucket list of places to live before you die, my mother in fact sees it more as a place where I might actually die - be it by a rampant driver, heat exhaustion or a goonda squaring up some business. Despite this though, it's an incredibly interesting place to live and work from. Paradoxically to it's size, it's a place of small circles and close connections, the possibilities of meeting interesting people doing similar work to collaborate with is easily within reach, far more so than in Australian cities in my experience.
However, in any city as foreign as Delhi it certainly has it's list of struggles. Just as a condensed list the main three would be; simply getting from a to b, motivating oneself to do anything slightly difficult in stifling heat, and having to daily deal with language barriers - not the chai guy, that's easy enough, but all of the recommended manufacturers we come across seem to have a hindi speaking only business and one can only call on friends so many times to take the place of an interpreter. These three things just tend to constantly grind you down, many in the same day resulting in what we call in the studio a "on the verge of physical violence against the next auto driver which tries to rip you off" day [this is the polite form of the day - as you can imagine this name gets shortened and/or expletives added when having one of these days]. Anyway, to prevent any auto drivers coming to any harm, it's necessary to often just escape Delhi to recharge, cool down, and get back into perspective. While the other half of Good Practice Studio, Sam, has been lucky enough for her fabric sourcing to take her back to Assam, I took it upon myself to extract myself from Delhi for the weekend and head for a much needed break in the hills.
McLeodganj is situated in the northern part of Himachal Pradesh, about 15mins from the centre of Dharamsala. McLeodganj has been the home of both His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as the Tibetan parliament in exile for the past five and half decades. This combination of serene natural beauty, surrounded by snowy peaks, and the friendly and peaceful disposition of its residents due to the large Tibetan community, makes this an idyllic place. While tourism is certainly a primary and flourishing industry here, it doesn't quite have the hardened edge of other tourist hotspots in India.
One of the positive aspects about the density of population of India is that from Delhi, there are so many varying weekend spots to visit for just a $10-$15 overnight bus or train ride (if your body and perceived comfort levels are up to it) which make getting out all that more accessible and enticing. Because let's face it, if you were to stay in Delhi too long without leaving you would most likely lose touch with your humanity. While some like beaches or vast open deserts, my medicine for peace of mind are the mountains. To me, McLeodganj is everything Delhi is not - one can go bushwalking though the mountains, hang out under waterfalls, feel some rain for a change, or simply people watch from a cafe without worrying about sweating too much, breathing in too much pollution, or inhaling too much dust. Possibly the best part is that you can (and it's nice) to walk between places - something Delhi urban planners have for whatever reason almost made it impossible to do.
Even the animals here seem far less intimidating than Delhi animals
What I've found so far is that to really give yourself a break from your own business, you really do need to travel somewhere different - and importantly away from your computer. I suppose this signifies the necessary separation you need to feel to stop thinking about a business you are always thinking about, and to not feel guilty about not thinking about it for a while! We all need a bit of clear headspace and breaks are just as vital as work time to keeping a business going.
So maybe if I can solve these three main problems life in Delhi will become that much easier, and yes, I suppose there are simple enough solutions; Get some wheels, get an A/C, and get more Hindi lessons… In the meantime though, yes, we actually do love living in Delhi, but for now we’ll just keep on having to make sure we occasionally get out (lest some poor autowala suffers the consequences otherwise).