After living outside India for 12 years when we decided to be back in India, friends and family cautioned us that it is going to be a huge adjustment. A good friend in Delhi pointed out that there is getting reacquainted to India and there is getting used to Delhi. I wholeheartedly agree. Delhi is a different animal altogether.
Here are some good, bad, ugly, and just plain different:
1. Delhi Metro: The best thing so far. Second day in Delhi we got ourselves a metro card and it has been smooth sailing since then. First day it reminded me of NYC subway. Something familiar and so liberating. Since then I have realized that it is much better - it is clean, easy to navigate, and has pretty good signage.
2. No restaurants in sight: This one is specific to the area we live in. First day we wandered around trying to find something for breakfast. We still have tough time finding something decent. There are chaat corners, winter chaat vendors, chaaiwalas but just 1 restaurant in our area (10-15 mins walk) and another walking distance of half an hour that we found closed for renovation the day we decided to eat out. *sigh*
North Delhi I am told is the old culture while South Delhi is cosmopolitan. It sure shows in the food scene.
3. Expectation of man to man talk: It is extremely difficult to get anything done from anybody. The electrician, the plumber, the Bosch installation person look at Parag every time they answer a question, even when I ask the question. For the last 20 years I have done all these things myself so it is quite frustrating, infuriating. I have to keep pushing Parag to ask questions, negotiate or give ultimatums (which is part of a normal conversation here. More on the conversation/negotiation dance later). If you know Parag, it is the most difficult thing for him to do. This is, I am sure, very specific to Delhi or may be North Delhi (or North India?). I have never had this problem in Pune.
4. Security check in Metro and Malls: Every time you enter a metro station you have to go through a metal detector, get patted down, and put your bags through a scanner. Same with malls or big commercial buildings. There are separate lines for women with lady police officers and a 'private' space for the pat down. It may sound appalling to my friends in US but surprisingly I got used to it in a day (might be because of similar experience in Pune during the 2011 visit). Now it is part of the everyday rhythm. A family member of mine in Delhi who takes this as a given is appalled at the thought that NYC or for that matter any of the US or European city public transport systems do not have 'security'. 'How can you be safe without it?' is his bewildered question.