Jan Balbierz: JU SPECTRESS Fellow at New Delhi, India

The “Indian experience” was not new to me. The first time I came to Delhi was in winter 1990. The world I have lived in was about to change – everyone was talking about the first free elections, the opening of the borders and the abolishing of censorship. For the first time in my life – at the age of 25 – I had a passport and some money to spend for traveling. I decided to go to India and Nepal. Suddenly I found myself in a place where our problems were  unimportant to anyone. Most people I have met had not even heard of the country I came from.

In the next decades I went to India many times but living at the JNU campus was an entirely different way of visiting the country. Most things were simple and straightforward, morning coffee in the Indian Coffee House, library work, watching  the peacocks and the nil antelopes that occasionally came by, the cooperative milk and curd shop, cool evening walks, psychedelic rickshaw  rides to the New Delhi station in the wee hours of the morning.  

In the city itself I found places far away from the tourist trail. In the mosque in Hazrat Nizamuddin I spent many evenings, listening to the quawwali music or just watching the people praying on the graves of the Sufi saints, coming with alms and incentive sticks and gathering on the big courtyard before evening prayer. I used to browse the shops in the booksellers district at Ansari Road. Behind Quatar Minab there were new streets with galleries and tea houses. 

It was a privilege to become a temporary citizen of this great, ancient city. 

About Jennifer Edmond

Dr Jennifer Edmond, is the Director of Strategic Projects in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Trinity College Dublin. Trained as a scholar of German literature, Jennifer is mostly engaged professionally with the investigation of knowledge exchange and collaboration in Humanities research and in particular the impact of technology on these processes.
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