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Varsities wow, but roads too ‘rough’

New Delhi, Nov. 21: Coming from the world’s most populous country, Jiang Tse may have been expected to know a thing or two about how to handle crowds.

Far from it, it seems.

The 23-year-old Beijing University student nearly caused a minor accident outside Pragati Maidan, where a youth delegation of a hundred Chinese accompanying President Hu Jintao was visiting the India International Trade Fair.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. So many buses, so many people, all moving all over the place,” he gasped in quick Chinese, barely grasped by the interpreter.

His friends laughed — making the fair Jiang turn red — but their faces had nervousness written all over them.

“They’re wondering how to cross the road,” said Neha, a student at Delhi University’s department of East Asian studies, accompanying the delegation as an interpreter and guide.

“In China, the roads are much better organised. All vehicles move in a line, in many places there are different lanes for different vehicles,” explained Erkenijiang Tulanong of the Communist Party Youth League, who is heading the delegation.

The traffic rules-defying Blue Line buses in particular scared the Chinese, Neha said. It hasn’t been this “rough” throughout their visit for the delegation — of students, actors, artistes and entrepreneurs, all below 30 —though.

At the trade fair stall where Chinese companies are displaying their products, they seemed a little at ease. “But it’s boring. We want to see India,” laughed Chengdu Tian, a student of medicine.

Earlier in the day, the delegation visited Jawaharlal Nehru University and were impressed by the variety of subjects taught, and the extent of student activism there, an interlocutor said.

What seems to have impressed the delegation — the students, in particular — the most was their visit to Delhi University yesterday. For two-and-a-half hours, they interacted with students and teachers of the East Asian studies department. The sheer size of Indian universities appears to have impressed them.

DU, for instance, has three lakh students — one lakh regular and two lakh who study by correspondence. “Chinese universities have at the most five-six thousand students,” said Y. Kumar of the East Asian studies department.

Later, the delegates had high tea with the two Presidents — A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Hu — after which they were taken to the Garden of Five Senses, a park, where the entire Chinese official delegation had dinner with their Indian hosts.

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