Friday, December 30, 2011

Adventure in India - Day 8 and 9 in Delhi

We flew in early evening from Varanasi. The agency put us up at the swanky Le Meridiane hotel in the city center. We met Ela and Prasnata Mukherjee from New Delhi for a drink that night. Ela was a Fulbrighter at KSU when I was there. It was a brief meeting but great catching up.

The next day, Dolly our guide returned and took us through the old markets on a rickshaw. We walked through the spice market, which was wonderful. We visited the tomb of Hasam, which is pre-cursor to the Taj Mahal. We visited the cremation memorial to Ghandi. We stopped at a small craft "village" where I saw some of the little clay production there is to find in India - tomb figures made with terra cotta clay. We had lunch in a garden restaurant and then were dropped by the colonial era Imperial Hotel to have tea with some time to kill before our flight.

On the trip back, while in Newark Airport, the sun was rising over the Hudson and Roy realized that the last sunrise we saw was over the Ganges Rivers…. not something we are likely to forget.

Adventure in India - The Animals

Cows are sacred and basically have the freedom to go anywhere, even onto busy streets in the cities. Monkeys leap across the rooftops and walk on telephone wires. Goats and sheep range over trash heaps and small strips of grass. When filling out the customs card and I came to the question about having been on a farm or ranch or near animals, I just had to giggle.

Adventure in India - Transportation

Getting around is a real adventure. Our tour company arranged a comfortable Toyota SUV with very competent and patient drivers. Although there are many new model cars (Honda's, Suzuki’s, Hyundai’s, etc.) all over the streets (we even passed a Ferrari dealership in Delhi) transportation is quite varied. Trucks were typically decorated with flowers, animals and patterns in the front. On the back, as if the truck drivers needed coaxing, would be painted “Blow Horn.” Horns are substitutes for signals and breaks. The other modes of transportation we witnessed included, an elephant, camels for transporting cargo, bikes, motorcycles galore (they do wear helmets) rickshaws using bikes, and 3 wheel Piaggios with canvas covers as cabs… oh, and the occasional donkey.

Adventure in India - Day 7 Veranasi

Our last half-day in Varanasi. We both fell in love with the city. This is what we imagined India to be like. It is spiritual yet gritty. Our guide took us to a temple on a university campus, which was interesting to see. There were art students selling their work near the temple – just like here! We went to a red temple, painted red in out and on top. Throughout the tour we had been taken to many shops to be shown a demo and then the hard sell. This time we were shown some exquisite weaving. It is still a cottage industry in India but they have some workers at the shop. Oh, yes, we did buy some textiles.

Adventure in India - The Colors

One quickly becomes aware of the bright colors of India. They are found in the flowers laid out for gifts to the gods, on buildings, in the spice market and on the saris the women wear. The Indian people are not shy about color and patter, often mixing and matching unlikely combination that contrast against the dirt, dust, trash and decay one sees everywhere. This is just a small sampling.