Postcard from... New Delhi


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The Independent Online

Along Mansingh Road, dozens of ice-cream carts glow brightly in the night. Do you want a Smacko chocolate cone? A Strawberry Jiggly Jelly? An Orange Mahabar? A Delighto?

They’re all here, packed into carts that men have pushed through New Delhi during the heat of the day, finally converging as the sun falls at this century-old park in the heart of the capital.

The ice cream is cheap. Most cost 35 rupees (35p) or less. On a hot summer night, 10,000 people can come to India Gate park, named for the ceremonial arch that honours the soldiers who died in the First World War.

Rich people have air conditioning at home and live in neighbourhoods with green spaces. They can afford the increasing number of high-end restaurants, or at least the food courts at the malls. There are nearly 17 million people in New Delhi, most living in cramped concrete apartments in cramped concrete neighbourhoods, places where trees are rarities and parks are often reduced to dirt and garbage. In the summer, when 38C  days are normal, the heat indoors is choking.

So in the evenings, thoughts in these neighbourhoods often turn to India Gate, where the breeze blows across the grass and there’s always something interesting to watch. AP