A Delhi-based Dutch diplomat is apparently so frustrated being a resident of this chaotic Asian capital city that he was moved enough to confess that "New Delhi is the most miserable place I have ever lived in". The venerable diplomat expressed his explosive perceptions to the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad.
Mr Arnold Parzer, holding the innocuous title of Agriculture Councilor at New Delhi's Royal Netherlands embassy, but actually being the senior-most Dutch diplomat after the ambassador, is 63 and has been posted in the city for the last three years.
However the diplomat's outburst, perhaps vented out in one of his weaker moments, was not entirely off the mark. His penetrating observation that "anything that can go wrong, does go wrong" in Delhi could actually be true. For instance, a single fused-bulb in one of the traffic lights usually leads to miles-long, hours-long jams resulting in delayed arrival at offices which, in turn, gives way to delayed appointments, cancelled deals, angry bosses, relationship break-ups, hypertension, mood disorders, and occasionaly all of it ending up in a severely upset stomach, popularly known as Delhi Belly.
Reflecting back over his three-year experiences in the city and his encounters with its boisterous people, Mr Parzer claimed that "everyone interferes with everyone else; the people are a darn nuisance".
The diplomat was not completely inaccurate in his social commentary.
Indian society prides itself, albeit hypocritically, in its family values. The Great Indian Family encompasses, within its orbit, something called 'extended family' that consists of relatives as distant as cousins thrice-removed and aunts married to fathers' younger brothers' brothers-in-law.
With such abundance of family members, such choking levels of diabetic love and affection between them, all being so interested in and (more importantly) curious about each other's welfare, it becomes inevitable for everyone to interfere with everyone. This trait often leads to the killing of all individuality, forcing people to a conformity of the worst kind.
Mr Parzen could not be expected to understand and appreciate such familial subtleties. After all, he comes from a kind of society where individuality is taken too far and which, unfortunately, has no concept of the security and comforts of a joint family. It is understandable for him to consider Delhi's uncles and aunties 'a darn nuisance'!
In addition, the Dutch diplomat was quoted cribbing that in Delhi, "the climate is hell". He is right. It can not be denied that Delhiites practically broil during summers and freeze to near-death during the wet-foggy winters. In addition, it now hardly rains during the monsoon season – the only time when the sub-continental farmlands receive its major share of rainfall. Worse, regular power outages shut off the air conditioners. This last, frequently-occurring, man-made disaster must be miserable for a cold-country native like Mr Parzer.
Finally, Mr Parzer described Delhi as "a garbage dump". There could be no shying away from this description. Even a transit airplane passenger, who has never stepped into the heart of the city, and has spent merely a hour in the city's international airport terminal, waiting to switch planes, would have difficulty in disagreeing.
Unfortunately, the Indian government, ever-sensitive to pricks and puns, hasn't taken kindly to such frank, fascinating, and heart-felt impressions. The Dutch ambassador, summoned to the filthy, monkeys-infested, beetle-juice-stained corridors of the foreign ministry, assured the Indian government, however, that Mr Parzer "has been taken to task". To kill the scandal before its bloom, the embassy also released a terse press release insisting that "[Mr Parzer's] statement does not reflect the opinion of the Netherlands government".
That's a pity!