Sunday, April 26, 2009

India Part II

Okay, now for India. First of all, please read my previous blog as well as this one because it means a lot to me. Secondly, I know my memory is getting a little fuzzy in terms of travel details so if you have any questions just email me!

Day four of India was fairly tame. Most of the students had decided to sleep in and forgo the morning tours and so our group had maybe twenty people at most. The day started with a visit to the Baha’i Lotus temple. It was an amazing temple that (believe it or not) is the most visited building in the world with over 4.5 million visitors per year. We were lucky enough to arrive just before the services began and our group was lucky enough to hear religious services for multiple religions in a fifteen minute period. It was amazing to see all those different groups come together under one roof. After visiting the Lotus Temple we went to a Sikh Gurudwara (Bangla Sahib). This was a very interesting experience for me because we went through the entire ceremony with local Sikhs and those who had made a pilgrimage to the gurudwara. I ate the food they gave me which symbolizes god and enlightenment and I dipped my feet in the holy water that would cure all ills. I covered my hair and walked with no shoes and felt like I was no longer a tourist, but a part of India. We left the gurudwara and headed to the capitol buildings for a brief glance at Indian government. The buildings were beautiful in a western style, but after everything I had seen, they were nothing special. There was only one building in the governmental part of Delhi that held any real draw for me.

At the “Palatial Birla House” on Albuquerque Road I followed raised footprints though a garden path to the spot where Mohandas Karmchand Gandhi was assassinated. I cannot describe how this felt. Gandhi was one of the people that I idolized growing up. He stood for his beliefs no matter what the consequences were. I watched all the movies about his life and read stories about the changes he made. I was never able to understand how someone was able to stand up and shoot him in cold blood. Visiting his Delhi home was absolutely amazing. I walked through his garden where he would have nightly public walks. I saw his home, filled with only the barest necessities, and his room, untouched since the day of his death. Throughout the grounds of the house there are amazing flowers and signs with messages of peace and non-violence. I do not have that many photos of Birla House because I felt the need to be there in the moment instead of seeing it all through a camera lens. I cried a few tears of joy because I was there. I was standing in the same place that he had stood over fifty years ago. If I had any life changing moment in India, this would be it. The Taj Mahal, paupers on the street, and Hindu temples could have nowhere near such a huge affect on me. I grew up knowing that “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” and it meant more to me than I can say to be standing in Gandhi’s garden. Thank you Mom and Dad!

That evening we flew back to Chennai. My final day in India was spent wandering from place to place in Chennai. I did some last minute shopping, went to an internet café (had some really good waffles there too!) and visited a few more temples. It was a fairly calm day and it was nice to just relax and not feel the pressure of doing touristy things. I was exhausted that night when the ship departed from India, but I was glad that I had been there. India was filled with extremes. There was extreme wealth and poverty, extreme natural beauty and pollution, and even extreme culture and exploitation. It was amazing and someday I would like to visit again.


Mary VoPo said...

Let's visit together! I have always wanted to go to India! (I say this then think, I've always wanted to go pretty much everywhere)

Steve said...

It is wonderful to hear you visited Mohandas Karmchand Gandhi's dwelling as he has always been one of my heroes.

Steve said...

And take a look at my blog post for today: and it is raining in NYC and the dog's don't want a wet walk. I have got to get back to my home office work. Your blog is too distracting!-)s