Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Times of India

The traffic of India reflects the culture in which they live. You can learn to move with the traffic, jump into the sea of cars and become a part of the chaos and the uncertainty. Once in the traffic you must stay completely aware of your surroundings, but everyone else knows your there too so even if you take your time you won't get hit.
It's difficult at times being a foreigner in New Delhi. People in the streets will try to take advantage of the fact that our money is worth more and we may not know the usual price of an auto to a certain point or a skirt at a shop. I have probably been taken advantage of so far in about 75 percent of the things I have done. It is easy to become frustrasted with the idea that we don't know exactly who to trust or how far they are pushing our limits.. but when one attempts to go more deeply into understanding, your perception changes.
Throughout the past four days 22 interns along with an AIESECer and a few tour guides travelled to western india throughout Rajasthan. The towns differed in various ways from the people and culture of Delhi.
       We started in a city called Jaipur or The Pink City. After missing our train ride, which is a a normal thing if you're following "Indian Time" we loaded on a bus that took us about 350km away which was a 6 hour travel time. The city attracted more beggers and attention than I had seen before. Children would follow us for 100 metres putting their hands to their mouths to signal that they needed money for food. If you look them in the eyes they might hold on to your arm to get you to pay more attention and not let go. Saying No is hard, but so many people need help that you feel helpless in yourself. A man stood beside our group of interns with his child in a wheelburrow in rags and dirt and continued to say hello and try to find our eyes for half an hour.
The tourist attractions were amazing. Amber Fort was set in the mountains, we took a jeep through small brick streets to get there and were amazed by the views. That night we were taken to an indian restaurant in a large tent with available acts to be watched outside, like a circus. The only problem was that the performers were children or very poor locals. A boy who seemed about 4 was made to do a dance that was simple yet seemed to tire him out without food in his reach for probably the entire day. Between his dances, where he was also made to spin his head while his hat spun a little string in circles, he sat looking in the distance with the most hurt look on his face. Another teenage boy stood on a rope high in the air with only a dirt ground to catch him as he showed us dangerous movements. When another 7 year old boy was made to burn his arms and put liquid in his mouth so when he blew at a torch fire filled the air, I walked away.
       The next city was Udaipur.. we arrived after a 9 hour busride overnight. The hotel we stayed in had a rooftop view of the city, several houses in sight had people sleeping on the rooftops which is common in India. The city has several lakes, we took a boatride on one and made our way to a small getaway in the middle of the lake. On the edge of the lake people are bathe in the polluted water, unlike Delhi in which you can see people bathing on the sidewalks where some might live. This city was peaceful. We weren't haggled when walking down the streets and we didn't hear the constant horns of Delhi. Our last day in Udaipur 6 of us decided to continue our trip that night to Jodhpur, another 6 hour ride instead of the 12 hrs back to Delhi. We made our own arrangements at a beautiful budget hotel that held the traditions of the city and treated us with delight.
Jodhpur stole my heart in a day. This is called The Blue City, so laiden with tradition and peace that you can't help but smile and yearn to see more of it. Our expectations of India's small, busy streets and spiritual getaways were fulfilled in this city. The hotel was entirely blue, with several rooftops and an open area in the middle of the hotel that had no roof. We made our first visit to Merhrangarh fort, which left us all speechless. The walls of this fort covered the outskirts of the Old City of Jodhpur which is surrounded by mountains and desert. A audio tour of the Fort spoke of this majestic building that was designed with layers of terraces and balconies. From the balconies you can see the entirety of the Old City, all shades of blue covered the houses. A garden to the left of the Fort is a depiction of every image that peace creates. We then travelled to a Crematorium. The entire building was made of detailed marble and stones. There was a separate shrine made for each King's ashes which overlooked the city once again. Leaving this city to come back to the chaos of Delhi was hard, but each city has it's own magic to be discovered.
The interns became extremely close during this trip, we travel together, eat together, sleep on couches, in busses, on floors, all we are trying to do is understand eachother. One intern told me something that really made me appreciate the moment I was in, she told me how amazing it was that all these people who have different lives to share all eventually end up in the same place at the same time to experience the same life.


  1. Hey! It's great that you are enjoying your first days here! I'm also doing an internship here in Delhi.. I don't know where are you staying and perhaps you know this, but on Tuesdays a bunch of interns hang out in Cafe 27 in Kailash colony market - dancing, free food and free drinks :) maybe see you there! :)

  2. Hey! A bunch of us live in Kailash Hills, we were at Cafe 27 last Tuesday and we'll be going there again tonight for our second time. We love it there :) You should add me on fb if you have it, Jackie Stol will come up.

  3. Jackie!! Your last sentence almost made me cry... that's really special!

    Good for you for walking away when they made that boy blow fire... that's pretty cruel, it makes me think of Slumdog Millionaire.

    That's so neat though that you get to travel to different cities! I read on the news the other day that there was a bunch of deaths due to train derailments and crashes and my heart jumped out of my chest for about 2 minutes until I checked which cities you were going to, and it was fine. I'm happy that you are back safe to Dehli and that you enjoyed your travels throughout some of the country.

    I miss you a lot and I think of you everyday! I'm so proud of you and so happy for you that words cannot express. Keep enjoying yourself and saving the world!! ;) ...and learning ALOT in the process. Good stuff!

    Love you!
    Vanessa (and the rest of the Stol family. even though they might not all say it, I know they love you, care about you, and are constantly thinking of you. I will e-mail out your blog again to our parents and Aunt Debbie.)

  4. P.s. I'm drinking your soy milk! lol

  5. (In case you don't check FB for awhile...)

    LOVE the pics! It looks like you are making some good new friends. The architecture is beautiful! Not to mention the people... that little girl that's looking at the camera, OMG so adorable! Her eyes like look into your soul lol. I can't imagine walking around and having people try to look into your eyes all the time... I would either be constantly crying or just literally melt. This might seem like a funny suggestion... but when people look at you and you obviously can't give something material to everyone, try to send them love. Maybe this does not even require a smile... just think of and feel unconditional love and wish it for them. It will probably make you feel better too! :) love and miss you!! xoxoxo