Tag Archives: Delhi

Nehru Place, Delhi: a digital hive


I went seeking some new and interesting ICTs on my last full day in Delhi, and my colleague Anushruti kindly therefore took me to Nehru Place in South Delhi.   I had never been there before, and it turned out to be a fascinating exploration of Delhi’s digital world; a hive of activity, with hundreds of small tech companies each competing for business, seemingly mainly selling mobile devices or offering laptop and phone repair services.

Nehru Place was built in the early 1980s as a commercial district, focusing primarily on the financial and business sectors.  However, as new financial centres have emerged across the city, its traditional role has all but vanished, and it has now been taken over by numerous small ICT businesses; it has often been described as the IT hub of South Asia.  It has a very informal atmosphere, with people also selling software (often pirated) and other small digital goods as pavement vendors on the wide streets between the buildings.

It is a very male dominated environment, and I was also fascinated by the gendering of the ICT advertisements on display (there is definitely a research project to be done on this); the dominance of a few corporate names on the hoardings, mainly Chinese, such as Lenovo, Oppo and Vivo, was a further reminder that India does not yet have much indigenous ICT manufacturing.  The prices of many of the goods on sale were also surprisingly high (India is definitely not the place to buy Apple laptops!).

As the photographs below show, Nehru Place has a  run down feeling to it, but the informality and vibrancy are clearly indicative of a lively digital scene, and it very much reminded me of a digital beehive, with everyone labouring away in their own little cell of the honeycomb that is Nehru Place.  Sadly, I couldn’t actually find what I was seeking to purchase, despite being directed from one shop to another in the hope that I would be able to!

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Filed under 'phones, ICT4D, ICTs, India, Photographs

Dilli Haat


I’m amazed that on my previous visit to Delhi no-one mentioned that I might like to explore the craft village of Dilli Haat in southern Delhi.  Perhaps I was previously simply too busy working!  However, one day last week over breakfast in the Faculty Guest House at IIT Delhi, a colleague suggested that it was not far away, and if I had time I should try to visit.  So, I made time this Saturday afternoon, with the temperature well over 95o F (35oC), to set off and explore.

The Haat (market), which opened in 1994, is run by the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation, and includes craft stalls from many different parts of India, as well as food sellers, and a stage.  Having paid a small entrance fee (100 INR for a foreigner), one is free just to wander and explore.  In some parts of the market, brightly coloured cloth covers the alleyways, and in others the stalls are set along a sort of arcade.  There is a huge range of craft produce from many different regions of the country for sale, including clothes (mainly for women), jewellery, woodwork, pottery, spices, brass goods, leather work, musical instruments, and mother of pearl bowls.  One of the nicest things is that it was not very crowded, and few traders were overly-persistent in trying to make a sale.  Those near the back of the market clearly received less business, and so some good deals can be struck there, but other traders stated clearly that there were fixed prices.  Certainly, there is a premium to be paid over the price of goods that can be found elsewhere in the city, but the quality is good, and having so much to choose from in one place makes shopping for gifts most enjoyable!

The diversity of products, the richness of colour, as well as the taste and smells of the market all made for a wonderful couple of hours exploration, and I hope that the pictures below capture something of the essence of the place.

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Thanks so much once again to Anushruti Vagrani for taking me there, and helping me negotiate!

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Filed under India, Markets, Markets, Photographs

Chandni Chowk


My beautiful pictureThe first time I visited Chandni Chowk (Moonlight Square) in Old Delhi was more than 40 years ago in 1976 (picture to the right).  I remember its vibrancy, the vivid colours, the energy, the diversity of smells, the complexity of everything that was there.  It fascinated me.  I got lost.  I wandered.  I explored back alleyways.  I emerged, having felt something of the depth of Delhi; the ever living past in its present.

I had not been back until two days ago.  Much had changed; little had changed.  I was struck anew by the splendour of some of the old buildings; the mix of religions; the melting pot of cultures that was Old Delhi; the old wooden doors; the delicious food; the wonderful colours, especially of the saris; the dogs and cat; the pale skinned mannequins.  I had to go there, just to feel, smell, hear, see and taste Old Delhi; a special treat was to eat at Parawthe Wala on Paranthe Wali Gali – it is most definitely worth searching out for every imaginable sort of paratha!

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I was so spoilt by my friend and colleague Anushruti Vagrani from IIT Delhi, who took me back to Chandni Chowk, and had patience with me as I just absorbed anew everything about the market.

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Filed under India, Photographs

Scenes from Delhi in 1976


Continuing to digitize some of my old photographs, I share here pictures of Delhi in 1976.  It is strange to think that it was nearer to independence in 1947 when I first visited (only 29 years), than it is now to when I first visited (40 years).  So much remains the same in Delhi, but much has also changed.  I note in particular the vast number of new cars – and the consequent air pollution.  But it still remains an amazing city, with such fond memories.  I look forward so much to my next visit.

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Filed under ICT4D, India, Uncategorized