Discovering Delhi – Differences

Sequel to my previous post, this focuses on the stark differences between Nigeria and India.

Power Supply
In Nigerian terms “India has light constantly”. Even driving by what appeared to be a slum, I notice bulbs shining brightly. The power supply has only gone off twice and I was surprised to hear myself say “NEPA has finally taken the light”. In about 5 minutes, power supply was restored. For someone who has endured erratic power supply all her life, there’s not much to say or compare with here except to express disappointment and pray that Fashola can redeem us. #FasholaForPresident but, I digress.

The Delhi Metro
The Delhi Metro is spectacular. It is a world-class metro system serving Delhi and its satellite towns. It is the 12th largest metro system in the world with a network of five colour-coded rail lines and the faster Airport Express line. Rajiv Chowk Station is particularly impressive.
I expected the hassle-free UK metro experience, so I was shocked by the overcrowded station. As you’ve guessed, there were no free seats on the train. Both sides of the train are lined with chairs, but they were reserved for the pregnant and the elderly. It appears the train was designed more for standing. It is helpful to know that Europe operates at about four passengers per square meter. India operates at 14 to 16 people per square meter. If we had a metro in Lagos, it will certainly be as crowded as this.

Vegetarianism
Hinduism focuses on non-violence, so killing anything even snakes, is frowned upon. There’s no cow meet here. Indian cows are massive, black and short-horned. It’s believed that they already give us their milk so we should not take their lives. They are considered sacred. Chicken is eaten by a few and perhaps sheep. But complete abstinence from animal flesh is heralded and being vegetarian is encouraged. I won’t bore you with how difficult feeding has been since my Kilishi finished, but if you are coming here, bring a lot of meat.

Chapatti:
I was surprised to find that many African countries have their variation of this unleavened flatbread as their cultural food. Off the record, I got the kitchen staff to show me how to make them. It’s quite easy and dare I say fun, and I’ll show you how to when I get back home.

Little Christianity
Religions here include Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism. Christianity one of the least popular ones here. Since 1951, Christianity has been practiced by only 2% of Indians. This may explain why Mother Theresa was such a big deal. Unlike in Nigeria where every street has a church, you can go for miles here and not spot a single one.

Spices
I’m not sure if this is a similarity or difference but Indians love spices particularly Curry or is it Turmeric. Curry seems to go in everything. In rice, in every soup, in potatoes in peas and mushroom, in crisps, you name it. I’m sure somewhere in this great land someone is sipping coffee with some curry in it. My fart even stinks of curry.

Dowry System
Unlike us, dowry is paid by the bride to the groom. The dowry system puts a lot of financial burden on the bride’s family. In some cases, this leads to crimes against women, from abuse, injury and dowry deaths.

Ultrasound Diagnosis of Fetal Gender Banned
Following the above point, there is significant female foeticide in India. In the 2000s, as many as 6 million pregnancies have been terminated in selective sex abortions. This 2011 article by the BBC:  Where are India’s millions of missing girls explains the situation indebt.
Consequently, Pre-Natal Determination Test (PNDT) Act outlawed sex-selective abortion in 1994. It was amended to include Gender Selection even at the pre-conception stage.

Abortion Laws
For a people who are so religious, I was surprised to find that abortion is legal in India. It is legal here only up to twenty weeks of pregnancy where “the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury of physical or mental health, or there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.”

Prostitution is Legal
The exchange of sexual services for money is legal in India, however it must be carried out in the private residence of a prostitute. Associated crimes include soliciting for clients in a public, kerb crawling(driving very slowly along the side of the road), managing a brothel, child prostitution and pimping are illegal.

Left-Hand Drive
Unlike Nigeria but like other countries which came under British colonization, Indians drive on the left-hand side of the road. This was confusing for me and half the time it felt like the bus was always moving in the wrong direction.

One National Language
Hindi is the most prominent language spoken in India, however English being a language for government, business and education. English, along with Hindi, is one of the two languages permitted in the Constitution of India for business in Parliament.

I’m sure there are many more differences between India and Nigerian but these are the most striking for me. If you’ve been here and would like to contribute to this experience, please leave a comment below.

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