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Just Twenty Hours To New Delhi

By Rajath Shourie

Admittedly, chances are you won't go to New Delhi for Spring Break. The idea of 20 hours in and out of planes and airports is hardly appealing--especially when it's twenty hours each way.

So why am I writing this piece? Well, maybe you (the omniscient reader) have always been interested in India, my home country, maybe I could convince you to visit Delhi over one of the longer vacations, maybe I have nothing better to do...

The city itself is paradoxical, a seemingly incongruous juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern. There's Old Delhi (which really is old)--today a crowded, somewhat dilapidated example of a city which is running out of time.

And then there's New Delhi, built in the early 20th century by the British; a grand remnant of colonialism.

The contrast couldn't be more apparent--at one point the narrow, winding streets of the old city (a living example of what can go wrong if roads lack traffic lights) magically transform into the sweeping avenues of New Delhi's affluent areas.

Needless to say, while those of us who live in the city vastly prefer New Delhi, American tourists have an inherent fascination with the grimy side-streets of the city's older incarnation, the darker side of the Indian mystique.

Life in Delhi can be fun. For the sightseers among us, there are loads of places of historical interest dotted about the landscape--mostly holdovers from the Mughal and British empires, but also contemporary monuments and museums.

And the night life, non-existent only a few years ago, is now teeming. Clubs are extremely popular with students from Delhi University--most are very Euro, and everyone wears black. Be prepared for excessive quantities of Chanel No. 5, through.

Also be prepared, at least in New Delhi, for things which look pretty familier to those in America. With CNN and MTV now available on demand, even the most dyed-in-the-wool Larry King or Beavis and Butthead fan need not despair.

And if you need a break from Indian liquid fare, you can just grab a Pepsi and feel right at home. It can make you wonder, with all the similarity, weather the 20-hour-long trip was really worth it.

But it really is. Delhi is an interesting city, paradoxical and fun, for both the tourist and the inhabitant. So if you want a spring break that's slightly out of the ordinary, and out of the U.S., start preparing for that long plane ride. Delhi is worth the wait.

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