Dehli Oh my gosh!
March 19th, 2010 by Kate

India – hum – where do I begin…

girls at Hindu temple

girls at Hindu temple

I knew I wanted to go to India.  I have so many friends from there, my wonderful sister-in-law is from there, and I love many things about the culture (or at least the Americanized version of the culture).  As we have traveled for the past 8 months, many fellow travelers that we’ve come across have spent time in India, and just about everyone said we needed to go experience it for ourselves.

Jeff was “in charge” of India.  To help us plan, and to help us each keep our sanity, we split up the countries and one of us focuses on the research and planning for each country.  He read about India extensively before we left, and communicated with his brother Doug and sister-in-law Paru to help us plan our time there.  We also spoke with lots of teachers and friends from Khalsa (the girl’s school back home) and many friends generously offered us information, places to stay, and contacts with their relatives.  I need to extend a huge thank you to everyone who opened up their heads, hearts and homes to help us plan our trip!

Our original plans were to spend a month in India, but in the end we only spent 2 weeks.  My sister Olivia (of New Zealand fame!) wanted to meet back up with us for her Spring Break from New College, and to make meeting up with her work – we needed to get somewhere further west for her to maximize her 9 days of vacation.  So after lots of back-and-forth, we decided to cut southern India out of our itinerary and head towards Egypt via the United Arab Emirates.

But back to India…

Yes, that is a giant elephant on the highway in Delhi!

Yes, that is a giant elephant on the highway in Delhi!

We flew from Bangkok to the capital city of Dehli (FYI there is a “new” Delhi and an “old” Delhi – both are part of the same city).  I’m going to be brutely honest here – Delhi looked like a war zone.  We were all shocked.  The International Airport was horrid and upon finding our driver, we walked through endless dirt parking lots fill of garbage, stray dogs and beggers.  We read in our guide book that our hotel was nice, but the neighborhood was “somewhat” in disrepair.  We were only a few blocks from the main tourist area – so we though “how bad could it be?”.  HA!  Open sewer ditches, construction debris, sagging overhead powerlines with live wires, cows, camels, donkeys, stray dogs, stray children and all their poop was everywhere!  It smelled.  Okay, actually it smelled REALLY bad.  Oh yes, and it was insanely noisy at all hours of the day and night.

Now I must interject here and swear to everyone that I am NOT being prissy or whimpy or overdramatic.  Jeff went out to get some money and some fruit, and when he got back I was sitting in the window agog at the sites below me.  All Jeff said was “oh just wait until you walk down the street.”

We took the advise of many and hired a driver through our hotel (and as for our hotel, it was actually clean-ish and had hot water if we went down and asked them to turn the boiler on).  We spent the entire first day driving around and around Dehli, seeing a few sites but constantly trying to get our driver focused on where WE wanted to go, rather than where HE wanted us to go – which amounted to stores where he would get a bonus for bringing us plus commission on anything we bought.

GAndi's eternal peace flame - let it burn!

GAndi's eternal peace flame - let it burn!

We managed to make it to Mahatma Gandhi’s mausoleum (in a nice park, with lots of inspiring Gandhi quotes), the biggest Hindu Temple in Delhi, the National Museum (pathetic and a museum conservationist’s nightmare), and did drive-bys of the Ba’hai Temple (really cool looking, like a lotus flower), the Presidential Palace (puts the White House to shame), the Parliament Building (also impressive) and through “the Mall” a long grassy park-like area linking the government buildings and an arch commemorating fallen soldiers (so full of trash parts of it actually looked like a dump).

So we saw some good stuff (trying to be positive!), and felt like we got a feel for a good part of Delhi as we made our way ALL over town.  But we couldn’t help but notice that the oddest thing is happening in Dehli – they are re-doing all of the sidewalks in the entire city – AT THE SAME TIME!  I am not kidding.  Every single solitary sidewalk in the entire city has been completely torn up and the piles of debris have been left in the roadway (making the bad traffic worse).  They are also building an elevated highway through the middle of town and are trying to build “skytrains” too.  These totally torn up roads, combined with the concrete buildings with exposed rebar, shanty huts, pollution, crazed drivers, and animals wondering around REALLY REALLY makes Delhi look like a war zone!

Big Ben, Parliment... okay, just Parliment!  It looks so nice, since I ended my writing on such a negative note, I thought I'd really end with a nice photo!

Big Ben, Parliment... okay, just Parliment! It looks so nice, since I ended my writing on such a negative note, I thought I'd really end with a nice photo!

Dehli is the first place in eight months of travel that I could be perfectly happy never going back to again.

3 Responses  
Rachael writes:
March 21st, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Hi Wells.
I hope you are all having a blast on your trip! I am so jealous!
I was not sure how to get in touch with you, but hopefully you read your comments. I wanted to let you know that I am getting married April 10th at 1pm (send me an email and let me know if you can come). I will send you more information if you are able to come.
We miss you.
Rachael, Jaime and Madison

Jennifer Prescott writes:
March 22nd, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I was curious about what your experience in India would be like. I read A Fine Balance a few years ago, a book which painted a vivid picture of squalor and inhumanity in India that has stuck with me ever since. Maybe every country has that side (having not traveled, I couldn’t say!). I really enjoy reading your blog. I have learned so much from it. :-)

Rachel Anderson and family writes:
April 13th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Well, you could be back here taking the AIMS test and sneezing through the lush spring that followed our rainy and snowy winter.

We love visiting your website from time to time, and we envy you.

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