After nearly two days of travel, we made it to Delhi. And let me tell you, it’s a whole new world. We stepped off the plane completely disoriented, I mean it was night and my body thought it was day… we’re all still recovering from jet lag. When the doors of the airport opened and we officially walked into Delhi, I quickly realized we weren’t in America anymore. The air was thick with fog, and the smell was pungent but not foul by any means. Indians lined the street with rickshaws, buses and well, stares.
We’ve been staying in a hotel the first few days as we become oriented to the city. I say that as if I feel oriented already which is FAR from the truth. I have so much to learn and to understand about this culture.
Our first day of “orientation” was beyond exciting. Our fearless leaders Abid-Ji and Bhavna-Ji welcomed us with fresh-flower lays, bracelets and a traditional Indian marking on the center of the forehead for good luck. We have a chai break every morning… chai tea in America and chai are completely different. Chai is the vernacular for ‘tea.’ So we’ve been having a milk tea (black tea with boiling hot milk). It’s absolutely delicious.
Some other activities we have experienced in the past few days,
The site in which part of Ghandi’s ashes were buried—a very stunning site to see.
My first Indian dining out experience. I had no idea what I ordered, and there was most definitely a language barrier; however, it was the bomb.com. Everything here is so spicy and full of flavor, I’ve loved everything I have tried (no shock there).
Along with the excitement of a new place—this is the first time in my entire life that I have ever truly felt alien. I mean I do not look like the people, I do not speak like the people, I do not think like the people, and I don’t believe or behave like the people. Staring is not rude in Indian culture and boy do we get started at. We watched the same motorcycle drive by three times in a span of 5 minutes. When we were visiting the Ghandi site, people were trying to take photographs with us. It’s flattering to an extent, but it’s also a constant reminder of how different I am from these people. (the bus with tourist pasted on it certainly didn’t help)
We stopped at a department store this afternoon to buy traditional Indian outfits. I hate shopping in America because I get overwhelmed, imagine this chick trying to shop for a completely foreign outfit. Also— get this, blue is apparently not a bright enough color… Bhavna Ji told us to stay away from blues and greens. However, as I always do, I wanted the blue. And after trying it on, Bhavna Ji agreed! (pictures to come later)
Delhi is one of the dirtiest yet amazing places. There are piles of trash along the roads along with debris (bricks, dirt, cement, etc). It’s also the dry season so everything is very dusty. Also, animals just roam—mostly stray dogs and an occasional cow. Despite what would be dirty in American culture; this city and its culture is unlike any I’ve experienced and consequently has left me in utter amazement.
The driving here is mass chaos. I swear we’ve almost been hit by a car/rickshaw/motorcycle at least two or three times every day we’ve been here. AND HOLY HONK! These people honk like they get paid for doing it. Seriously, it’s not “rude” but a way to say, “HAY! I’m here and I’m taking this opportunity to get in front of you.”
We rode the metro. The metro itself was clean, smooth and crowded. What really left all of us a little perplexed was that there’s a separation of gender. They have a side of the train for women only and a side of the train for men only. For Americans this is completely shocking, but my question is whether Indian women find it oppressive or is it just a safety precaution? There are so many facets of this culture that I do not understand and who am I to question it? It is in my American nature to want to “fix” what I believe is wrong, but we were correctly reminded that as students, it is our job to learn—to try and understand why things are the way they are. Not to ask how can I make this more like MY culture.
Needless to say, this truly is a whole new world (a dazzling place I never knew), and I have a lot of learning to do. Bring on the stares, magmonster’s taking on Delhi.