Post from New Delhi:
I can honestly say that this country amazes at every turn. It is not just one thing. The Taj Mahal is beyond amazing but so is the greenery, the filth and garbage, the apparel, traffic and the beauty. It seems that moderation has no part of the conversation here in India. Even the weather and pollution will bring the weak to their knees.
I will have been here four weeks this weekend. I have stayed in Mahal 1 here at the AES school most of the time. The temperature today is 104 and air quality lingers around 332. Not a fit day for man or beast we would say in the USA. Yet life goes on a normal.
When we visited Agra last weekend, the temp was 108 and the humidity was 100 percent. A monsoon rain hit hard and sent the population scurrying to keep water out of their businesses. My earlobes were dripping sweat.
|The Grand Hotel, one of the best|
in India. Located in Dehli. I
spent 1 night.
|Reflecting pond lead the path to the |
Taj Mahal and Mosque
|Sunrise at the Taj Mahal, a minaret.|
|The monkeys dive and swim in a pool in|
the Taj plaza.
But when I commented to the guide that I would never complain about the heat again, he was surprised...are you hot mum? he asked.
Yes I was.
We climbed stairs at the Agra Fort that afternoon and at sunrise the next day we visited the Taj Mahal. The humidity was thick and the flies clung to every part of our bodies. It was one of those many moments I have
wondered what I am doing and yet it was exhilarating and joyous. It is hard to explain. Every nerve ending was alive and so was I...that is wonderful. The day would not have been the same if it had been cool and the skies had been clear of pollution. Perfect is not perfect!
|Traffic jam on a Sunday afternoon in Agra. |
Tuk Tuk full of women.
The traffic jam on the evening before was simply traffic going in two different directions meeting and halted totally. I cannot explain how that happened but well...it is India. The Taj Mahal was breath taking as you can imagine but so were the monkeys swimming in one of the pools...really they were swimming, diving and enjoying the day. They came from everywhere in large numbers. Guards banged garbage can lids to keep them at bay.
The Indian apparel is so beautiful...not a costume but daily wear. Even though the heat is oppressive, women dress in slacks under the long dresses. I shopped at a place called Fab India, the local favorite I am told but groceries are purchased by the cook or ordered online. Restaurants serve good food and service is great.
Still, I discovered early that I needed to be careful what I ate. Delhi belly is not a myth.
|Camp across the street from AES. This is upper level|
living for those that are very poor. These people sort the
garbage from the school so that everything is recycled.
In many parts of the city homeless people line the streets and garbage or piles of garbage are everywhere. Here in the American Embassy School compound people from across street in the slum/camp sort garbage into piles. Where it all goes I have no idea.
Surprisingly, it all seems to work. The wealthy live behind walls in apartments or homes. Shops and restaurants are hidden in the midst of it all.We visited a small boutique located among a row of homes called Wandering Silk. A restaurant that we visited was behind the wall around a corner hidden from view. It helps if you know what you are doing. Alleys are small and walking is necessary. The driver finds his way around it all. He magically appears when we emerge again. It seems as though the only way to see New Delhi would be with a tour or guide. Life here is not for the faint hearted.
I have said after we visited Tangiers on a tour in 2001, "You can't scare me...I have been to Morocco." Since then I have travels around the world here and there. I am never afraid...amazement follows me everywhere. People are generous and kind, con artist, thieves, grumpy but above all just human. I like that.
So it goes. I will fly out on Friday morning at around 2:00 am. This is one adventure I will never forget.
Where have you been?