Luckily, our room is air conditioned, except for the rest of the hotel. When you step out the door, the heat engulfs you and it is most similarly compared to sticking your head over a pot of boiling water. It will take some getting used to that is for sure. Our room as a huge fans as well that is so fast it reminds me of the airplane propeller so falling asleep it felt like I was flying. I ended up waking up at 3:00 a.m. and made myself fall back asleep until I was wide awake at 6:00 a.m. I am hoping that this waking up theme will continue because it makes the day so much longer and fulfilling compared to my noon wakeup time back in the states. I had breakfast at the hotel which consisted of a fried egg, Masala Tea (Delicious), banana, naan with spinach, and a glass of cold hotel water. Surprisingly, the water did not make me sick and not to worry, it was crystal clear (at least from what I could see). Our entire ISA group ate together and shared stories about our hopes and wishes for the trip, as well as which locations we wish to visit within the next four and a half months. The group is great; we all have a piece of us that is common allowing us to get along and mesh really well.
After breakfast, I had the chance to Skype with my sister Sara, my mom, and Thomas. It was great seeing their faces (As well as my dog, and my sisters dogs) which offered me a sense of relief and homeliness.
As I imagined, I am not homesick, nor did I experience any culture shock. India is very similar to Morocco in the sense that the rich are rich and the poor are poor. The people that live on the streets and in the back alleys are struggling; meanwhile, the rich are driving around in BMW’s and Ferrari’s (I will get into this a little bit later).
Around noon, we departed with Sanjuktta to explore New Delhi. Our first stop was the National Museum which housed more than 200,000 pieces of Indian art ranging in between five millennia of Indian history. For those history buff’s out there, this museum’s collection of India Valley relics and Central Asian treasures from the Silk Route are among the most famous in the world. We only had about an hour to explore all three levels which was a bit rushed but I got the most out of it that I could. It is amazing to see pillars and plaques from so long ago in person. Most of them were carvings of Shiva (Destroyer), Vishnu (Preserver), Brahma (Creator), Ganesh, and other Hindu Gods which I learned about in my Global class at Thiel. Sanjuktta and I were walking around together and with her being in school for her PHD in Indian History, she taught me a lot about the meanings behind most of the God’s. I never really knew about all of the symbols such as the horse without the rider being a symbol that the God Shiva was coming but he wasn’t there yet. The hand movements and the leg positions of all of the carvings also have great significance which I am hoping to learn from either Emmy who is a religious studies major or from the Indian students on campus.
Following the museum was the Lodi Gardens
which were in the center of town. This was a public park that consisted of four monuments each holding tombs of certain people of significance. These 15th
century tombs of the Sayyid and Lodi dynasties can be found in this park. I had the chance to visit the Tomb of Muhammad Shah (the third ruler of the Sayyid dynasty 1434-1444) and the Tomb of Sikander Lodi which was quite unique. These monuments and lakes make the Lodi Gardens one of Delhi’s most picturesque parks.
Most Indians come to this park to play soccer or to jog/walk in the evenings. There was a small lake outside of one of the monuments which housed fish (much to my surprise due to the garbage in the water) and white ducks. There is also an abundance of squirrels that are not very afraid of people. The bird population was also beautiful. There are green parrots
there that blend in with the lush grass and as well as wild dogs who tend to tag on to the group like a tour guide leading the way. One dog in particular followed us the whole way through the park and then hopped up on the ledge and posed like my dog Boo at home (pictured in the blog)
. We spent about an hour and a half at the park and then headed to the Dilli Haat which is an Indian Bazaar. In this section, I feel as though the pictures speak louder than words. The colors, fabrics, intricate details and designs overwhelmed me and I could not stop clicking my camera to stop and buy anything. The jewelry was also beautiful and colorful. This country is my haven – skirts, Sari’s, chunky jewelry – am I in a dream?
The cost of merchandise here is extremely inexpensive compared to the states. A handmade purse with beads and beautiful fabric is about 250 rupees which is $5 USD (Something that you would pay $30 USD for in the states)
A light salwaar kameez top with embroidery covering the entire front in bright colors is about 300 rupees which is $6 USD (the same thing back home would be about $45 USD). Needless to say, the amount of clothing and jewelry that will be purchased on my trip is pretty great.
My eating habits have definitely changed while being in India. I have never had Indian food until my plane ride, which it unfortunately made me sick. Today I tried Masal Chunna Dal and Roti which is a chick pea lentil with heavy mixes of onion, garlic, and spices and Roti is the delicious bread that you eat the Dal with. Dal is considered to be India's "soul food".
Similar to Morocco, the soda’s here are made with real sugar making it extremely delicious and you can actually taste the flavors rather than just the fake taste of Coca Cola that you would get in the states.
To further explain the social gaps in India, I was walking through the city and I looked back an alley which led to my discovery of the poor person’s lifestyle. There are so many people living under tarps, cooking on fires, malnourished, and kids playing in the streets, barefoot, where human and animal feces are feasting on the rain waters. Yet on the other hand, there are people driving through these slums in BMW’s.
I am not trying to offend anyone of money, I am simply referring to the corrupt Indian government. I found out today that these people who are living on the streets are paying the police money to live on the street. This money is being pocketed by the officer who is on patrol duty at that time. I guess what this really comes down to is the fact that we as Americans take a lot for granted. I could not imagine sleeping in a street and begging for money. At least in the US you could try and make better for yourself by getting a simple job; the poor in India do not have anywhere to go to get out of their situation. It seems like a caste system because once you are poor; the chances of ever being something better are slim to none. For anyone who has never been abroad and has seen a homeless person in the United States, it is absolutely nothing like you would see in India. India’s poor are hurt, struggling, and have nowhere to go.
Before you all go to sleep tonight, remember to give thanks for all you have. Roofs over your heads, food on your plate, and clean water to drink are all necessities that we expect to have yet people are fighting for one of the three in other countries.
The first night in the hotel was alright. I went to bed around midnight after getting settled and taking a shower. Surprisingly, my shower was warm; however, I felt better taking a cold one. The whole time during my shower, I could not stop thinking about my previous conversation with my family about the water's quality. I was so worried about not getting water in any part of my body that I could barely relax, however, my mint-smelling shampoo calmed me.