Okay so I know I’ve got in on this really late, but just in case there’s anyone still left to recommend this to: Google Earth is superb! Had been looking at it perfunctorily on others’ comps in office, but yesterday for the first time I sat myself down for an indepth session, tracing aerial views of roads and landmarks in Delhi.
Though I did a lot of route-tracking (especially around the Panchshila-Saket region, which is where I’ve lived for most of my life), my points of reference were open-air swimming pools, which are quite clearly visible even without zooming in too close. The one in the Panchshila club, where I learnt swimming as a child; the one in my school (St Columba’s), the large one at the Saket Sports Complex (where I’ve been going the past few years) – and most memorably, the one at the Saket Cultural Club, which is just across the road from the PVR complex. (Most memorably because this one is more distinct in appearance than the others: there’s a small circular shallow pool for kids just a little way off from the main, rectangle-shaped one, and I could see both very clearly.)
I’ve blogged before about how new technology (or even a signpost of urban development, like a major new flyover that completely alters a landscape) sometimes puts up a wall between me and my childhood memories; making me feel like a stranger to my former selves, making the city feel unfamiliar too. This is one of the few times it had the opposite effect. To start with, there’s something comforting about viewing familiar roads from the perspective provided by Google Earth. Seen from this angle, you can’t make out that much has changed (except for the odd detour or two). The city hasn’t really shifted - notwithstanding all those flyovers and the metro construction, the fundamentals are still in place. It’s a whimsical way of looking at things, but I’ll take it.
The best part (and I’m sure everyone has done this too) is homing in on your house and then clicking on ‘zoom out’: watching as the view gets smaller and smaller, progressing from individual lanes to apartment blocks to colonies until it encompasses the whole city, then the entire NCR region, then the country…and so on until you have the globe hurtling through black space. Giddying experience, puts a lot in perspective.
Frustratingly, my Net connection at home is still slow, but I’ve downloaded the application anyway. Much exploring ahead. If you haven’t tried it yet, do.