They're the two most populated counties in the world. And I've now been in new Delhi for 5 days. This basically makes me an expert, right? So time to judge and declare a winner.
Air Environment - India
The skies are a lot clearer than I expected. The first three days have all had blue skies. While there is still some smog in the air, especially at the horizon (okay, the horizon can be pretty bad; it's difficult to see farther than 10 or 20 miles away), I'm still seeing a lot more blue than I expected. The skies in China are often dull gray due to the vast amount of manufacturing and heavy industry. Maybe India is lacking some of this and thus isn't receiving the pollution that comes from it? Maybe. Even with the clearer skies here in India, there is the distinct smell of smoke in the air, like something is constantly burning. But the color blue takes the win, so first round to India.
Ground Environment - China
The general ground-level environment here is a lot more dirty than in China. The streets are very dusty. The ground is dusty. Everything is dusty. Even the face of my phone seems to get dusty after a day out. There is not the army of street sweepers constantly picking up trash and sweeping the sidewalks as there is in China. There is also a distinct difference in landscaping. I am now realizing how beautifully landscaped China is. There are beautiful parks, landscaped road mediums, and green grass. I have seen very few of this here thus far in my time in India. So this round to China.
Traffic - China
Never thought I'd say this, but if you want a good mix of road excitement while rules are still adhered to, China is a perfect fit. While you do encounter some crazy driving, Chinese roads are still somewhat orderly. And roads are also in considerably better condition. Indian traffic is certainly living up to its reputation. Traffic jams can pop up at any moment and there is a lack of clearly written rules for the road. It's survival of the fittest. And Chinese roads suddenly seem orderly and quiet because of this. There is an adrenalin and excitement factor to the whole Indian road scene when you first experience it. But within a few days, the constant speed bumps, weathered suspensions, 24 hour traffic, and near misses takes its toll. It stops becoming non-stop fun and starts to feel like a hassle. I've been in almost two near accidents in the first five days (note to mom - sorry you had to find out this way) and the speed bumps... my gosh. I am not exaggerating by saying that excluding the highways, there are speed bumps every 25 meters. No wonder I have not seen any exotic Italian cars around the city - these speed bumps make it impossible to drive them here.
Weather - India
Shenzhen is humid. New Delhi is dry. New Delhi wins.
Transportation - China
Besides extensive bus and metro services, taxis are everywhere in China. These taxis are air conditioned, have reliable meters, and can be used for semi-long distance travel. There are a few situations where finding a taxi may take some time (especially during rush hour). So transportation in China is very simple and convenient 95% of the time. New Delhi has a brand new metro and rickshaws/auto-rickshaws are on every street corner 24 hours a day and present a perfect method for short-distance connections. The problem lies in medium distance travel. It seems most upper-middle class families have a driver/private car to take them around, and the lower class use rickshaws. But what about normal taxis? The city has a fleet of 'radio taxis,' which are most comparable to China's taxi system. The problem is that these taxis are rarely hired directly on the street. You see very (very) few of them when walking around and they must be called and arranged by phone. And from the very long conversation our helper had on the phone when trying to arrange one, it is not the simplest task in the world. I am declaring China the winner simply based on the ease of securing cheap medium to long range transportation within the city. But I do see how over time I could become comfortable using Indian transportation.
Language - India
I am making this judgement simply on the English ability of the general population. English is spoken everywhere here. Many families speak English at home and seems like it is also spoken, by those who can speak it, at social events and gatherings. Even listening to spoken Hindi, many English words make their way into the conversation (I believe the term is Hinglish) and allow the non-Hindi listeners to guess the subject of the conversation. I love the Chinese language to death, but the Chinese public's English ability compared to the Indian's is abysmal.
Infrastructure - China
This is by far the easiest winner to declare. We walked to a mall our first day in town (Saturday). Two minutes after entering, the power went out. All the music stopped. The lights went completely dead. But all the people continued on as normal. And 10 seconds later the power came back on. Judging from the people's reaction, this must have been quite a common occurrence. Since then, the power in our apartment has also gone off multiple times, and other power outages have been observed. Thankfully areas where power is a necessity, such as hospitals, have backup units so power is never interrupted. Water is also a problem, and unlike while I'm in China, I have made constant efforts to use bottled water when brushing my teeth. No problems with electricity in Chinese cities.
Food - Tie
How could I ever choose one over the other. I love Chinese (within the borders of China) food. And I have been treated to great Chinese food. The great discovery today? Dominos paneer pizza. It's a delight. I will say that I am not in agreement with Indian eating schedules. Lunch at 3 pm (if at all)? Dinner at 11 pm or later? China is simple - lunch at 12, dinner at 7. I will still call this category a tie because Indian food is just so good. But I am severely missing my Chinese eating schedule.
People - China
Completely subjective. At my heart I'm 49% Chinese (the other 51% is American, but don't ask about that), so of course I think we're the best.
Mattresses - India
Chinese beds can be incredibly firm/hard/uncomfortable. Have yet to encounter the same problem in India. Stay tuned.
Corruption - China
Both countries have corruption and I spoke about this with some Indian acquaintances tonight. Our final conclusions are such- Chinese corruption happens at a high level such as in government or high levels of business (with contracts, etc.). This sort of corruption does not hinder the actual progress of construction or its resulting quality. Indian corruption happens within a much lower level of the business chain. My friends were adamant this type of corruption, quite prevalent in present day India, has had the greatest effect on resulting infastructure and construction deficiencies.
Final Winner: China
China wins by a count of 6 to 4. What could be more objective than that?
A few final initial thoughts on India:
- Can you please cut down on the honking? I mean, you're going deaf because of it.
- For all the road congestion, there is a surprising lack of conflict. I've already been in a few situations where road rage would have surely happened in a similar situation in China. Here, people nod to each other, wait patiently, maybe raise an occational hand, and life continues. No yelling or even raised voices.
- The food is amazing. Did I mention that?
- Stay away from the monkeys.
- The street dogs are incredibly sad to see. They all have big baby eyes and quiet demeanors.
- Security is very tight. Metal detectors are present at every mall entrance. Pat-downs are preformed for every passenger entering the metro. Police and military, guns in hand, survey most street corners. Not sure if I should be feeling more or less secure becuase of this.
- I am becoming a huge fan of Indian tea. Containing milk and sugar, it is being served to me at almost every meeting. I can honestly say I will miss it when I return to China.