Friday, July 11, 2014

India Journal - First Two Days

GETTING HERE: Left on Tuesday from New Orleans and FINALLY made it to Delhi late Wednesday night (via flights to Atlanta and Paris and THEN Delhi). It was immediately HOT and HAZY and kind of smelly, but I was so tired that all I could think about was getting settled in my hotel and heading to sleep! It was still 95 degrees F when I arrived at the hotel! I had plenty of time on those lengthy flights, even though I watched four movies, to put together a cheesy video experiment w/ my iMotion app. I'll upload it soon and there will probably be more videos along the way! The internet is weak here so my several tries to upload videos, no matter how short, have failed. I watched four movies on my flights, all of which I'd been wanting to see!
- Hunger Games 2
- Thor: The Dark World
- Divergent
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

First, here is a link to my Facebook album of photos for the Delhi portion of this trip! I made it "public" and you do NOT have to be signed up for Facebook to be able to view the photos! I hope you will enjoy them. I'm finding India's palette of colors is fascinatingly beautiful!
I am staying in the West Patel Nagar area of Delhi in the Hotel Shanti Palace. It has a ceiling fan and a slow-moving air cooling unit - for which I am VERY GRATEFUL since temps are high. There is free bottled water daily which is awesome. The area is dingy, crowded, busy, impoverished, extremely colorful, and yet somehow touristy. In speaking with a cafe owner today, I learned that they actually have many tourists to this area and have seen all sorts of Westerners so they are somewhat used to it. I also learned that students sometimes have exchange programs on this side of the city for computer technology and software / programming. This neighborhood has a bazillion tailors and dress shops that will make you anything you'd like once you select the fabric. I'm thinking about doing this either here or in Mungeli. While I love seeing the saris, I'm more a fan of the "suit style" sari outfits and hope to bring a couple home with me.

Today, I walked a ton and spent about six hours outside. It's boiling hot so I got appropriately wiped out! I met a nice man cooking rice on the street and frying various things to go with it, played with a cute toddler who was fascinated with my hair, bought some appropriate clothing for visiting temples, ate a crispy gol gappa (type of hollow cornmeal ball filled with a mysterious paste), ate chicken curry, and drank masala chai (tastes exactly like Brasilian mata chai to me, YUM!) I also heard some good live music at a restaurant tonight and got my own song (I'm sure b/c I stick out.) I think it was called 100 miles, but I'm not sure. I'm about to upload pictures from my late afternoon market trip. Check out the colors and the giant pile of beans. I also recorded some of the traffic. Here, if you have a horn or bell, you use it plentifully....all. the. time. Not too shabby for day fact, I sort of can't believe I did so much on day #1 :-) Tomorrow I'll see some famous sites around Delhi. I will have a taxi driver who will take me to any of the sites I'd like to see.

DAY # 2 Sights Around Delhi
Today, I got to see sights around Delhi and I did the best I could from 9-3, but had to stop b/c of the intense heat. I did see the Houses of Parliament, "embassy rows", The India Gate, Humayan's tomb, The Lotus Temple, and the Indira Gandhi museum and home. That and Humayun's Tomb were my favorites and I wept upon entering the Indira Gandhi museum. What an amazing life she lived as an inspiration and peacemaker. 

The Lotus Temple is MASSIVE and beautiful. Once you get close to the temple, you must remove your shoes. There is a racket set up to where "officials" give you a little bag to hold your shoes, but then they want you to give the bag to them and then charge a fee when they give them back to you. I put my shoes into my purse instead and luckily, I had brought an extra pair of socks to give me a little more thickness on the hot, spikey mat you have to walk on. It was an interesting and quiet experience. It was so beautiful and the acoustic was insane as the temple was round in the inside and gigantic. I recommend visiting this place, just not in July.
The India Gate is a beautiful archway with a memorial and tomb of the unknown soldier underneath it. The names of 70,000 Indian soldiers who died around the world in WWI. There are also over 12,000 names inscribed in memory of Indian soldiers who died during the Third Afghan War. The grounds around the monument are gorgeous with reflecting pools leading to fountains, sunflowers, and other smaller monuments. On walking back to the taxi, I got lucky with this shot of a bird fluttering up and down from a bush.


This visit was a very moving experience and to see all of the articles about, photos of, and world awards received by Indira Gandhi was both amazing and overwhelming. As you enter, there is a photo of her with words from the last speech she ever gave and I began to cry immediately. She is right you know, we are here today and not guaranteed of tomorrow. How is it then, that we can live and not care or care-and-do-something-about our fellow humans with whom we share this journey? The amount of grace that this woman had from her austere childhood upbringing, constantly having her parents in jail, and seeing her India break under the yoke of disrepair and depair - is God-given grace and is frankly amazing and without reproach. To see the sheer number of world peace and highest distinguished awards from every government you can think of - this is staggering. A trip here is WELL worth it. It has a room whre you can watch a short video of her life and then walk beside her memorial where she was assassinated. They even have the sari she was wearing that day preserved. Another portion of the house is a museum to her son Rajiv who left being a pilot after his brother died to grow into politics and become an extremely famous and influential figure like his mother.

This was a place that I am SO HAPPY to have visited. Before today, I knew nothing about Nasir ud-din Muhammad Humayun (Persian: نصیر الدین محمد همایون; March 7, 1508 AD to January 17, 1556 AD). He was  the second Mughal Emperor who ruled a large territory consisting of what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of northern India from (1531-1540) and again from (1555-1556). He had two wives and several children. His ancestors were Sufi and he later became fascinated with their work and the artwork of the Persians. Becoming the Moghul emperor helped immensely in preserving the ancient and different styles of art and stonemasonry that he had seen and grown to love. There are several tombs

I came back to the hotel to rest and cool down. Later, I went for a cappuccino at a local bakery / Indo-Thai takeout place. After that, I took an evening walk and discovered another market. I am getting pretty good at crossing the street (way harder than it sounds). Tomorrow, I will visit Agra and the Taj Mahal. New pics from today were just uploaded into the INDIA 1 album.
The India Gate, Delhi

1 comment:

randall said...

love it, love it.
the places I cannot or have not yet visited
I see through your eyes.

many thanks!