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Burning calories and the market experience
After being a little skeptical about this place prior to my arrival, and even during my first days here, I must give it up to the people of India for the tremendous effort that they have made towards making these games, first off, actually take place and, secondly, largely without incident.
Maybe I'm talking a bit too early, but in terms of security, the Indians have so far delivered an incident-free Games. I really hope it continues in this vein.
So, for those of you who have been hinting that I need to get back in the gym, I do believe that I can extend my leave of absence for a few more weeks, at least, after the calories that I have burned over the past two weeks.
I tell you, it has not been easy work for us media personnel here in Delhi. For instance, the Mixed Zone (area where interviews are conducted with athletes immediately after their events) is located some 200m-300m from the press area. Up several flights of stairs, down a corridor, through a door, down several flights of stairs, around a few corners, down a ramp, voila!
If you aren't quick enough, or if you mistakenly think you're quick enough, you will definitely not make it in time and, as a result, miss maybe the only chance you'll get to talk to that particular athlete.
Then there are the long walks to and from the buses, with all my running up and down in this place. No wonder I am being mistaken for an athlete. Yes, you read correctly, an athlete!
Anyway, I finally got a chance to see a bit of India this morning. The plan was to visit India Gate, one of the country's more notable attractions. That didn't quite go as planned and we had to reschedule, so Connaught Place it was. According to a few volunteers and travel websites, this was the place for shopping deals in India.
What they failed to mention was that this was also the place for poorly disguised knock-offs. They even had fake Fila sneakers, FILA! I haven't even seen that brand name since I left high school years ago.
Having survived grand market in downtown Kingston and Beijing's Silk Market, I thought I could manage anything that this place could throw at me.
The adventure started inside the underground Palika Market - an underground shopping area within the circular borders of Connaught Place.
I've never seen so many people crammed into one place! They seemed to have everything there, not all good quality, but everything seemed available.
There were a few good deals, but it takes a serious look on your face and some determination to navigate your way.
Everybody feels the need to grab your hand, everybody feels the need to block your path and try to escort you into their store.
There was this one vendor in the Palika Market who had a rather eye-catching spread of watches, etc.
"'Babba' (which is what everybody calls you here), this way, come 'Babba', take a look; Gucci, CK, Tag Heuer, we have them all sir."
One look and I had to laugh. "Show me the real ones, genuine, not fake, asali (yes my Hindi is improving)," I responded.
After finally getting rid of the sheepish look on his face, he managed to pull out three watches; three out of the 100 or so that were on his display area. And to make matters worse, none of the three looked any good either.
Connaught Place proper is, on the other hand, much more civilised and they even have a few of the more popular designers such as Louis Philippe, Puma, Nike, Lees and Van Heusen; a much better experience.