February 7, 2016 by Alyse LaHue
After we finished work at Parijat Academy it was time for a mini tour of India’s “Golden Triangle” during a mad-dash 3 days so we set off by air to the capital New Delhi. It’s hard to describe the experience of New Delhi. The shortest way is to explain it as a full-on assault. Smoke from the city rolled into the plane the minute we hit the tarmac late at night. It was a suffocating smog that permeated every corner of the airport and lingered through the night. We traversed piles of garbage (some burning), wild dogs, and urine soaked streets to arrive at our hotel.
We only had a part day to tour the city the next day so we set off on foot through Old Delhi. It was a sensory attack to attempt taking in the chaos of this dense urban obstacle course. The sheer amount of people is stifling. Cars, motos, busses, tuk-tuks, animal carts, dogs all competing for a place in the limited space under a symphony of endless honking and the overpowering smell of street chaos (food vendors, traffic smog, piss, incense).
One of the most noticeable things about India is the permeation of religion as an everyday part of life, not just a ‘Sunday service’ gathering. And it’s not one religion either. For hundreds of years multiple religions have colored the landscape with shrines and temples growing up from the earth as common as trees and faithful followers entering the incensed, candlelit sanctuaries with their bare feet and offerings of marigolds to idols like ganesh, lord shiva, and hanuman. Entry-ways facing mecca. Injured pigeons healing in the bird sanctuary of the do-no-harm jains. [and these experiences take place relatively next door to one another.]
A highlight of the city for me was the spice bazaar. It was easy to get immersed in the endless aroma of spice, nuts, dried fruits and teas. Oh, and a few monkeys lurking above the sidewalks.
Tomorrow we train early to Agra, home of Taj Mahal.