Wednesday, March 11, 2009


A whole new world is what it seemed like. They told us from the moment we would step off the ship we would notice it through one of our senses. From what I saw, smelled, felt, tasted, and heard it was a definite difference. The humid, dirty, moist air immediately took me back and made me realize I was in a place like no other. The smell is distinct, and is everywhere. The things I saw were not so pretty at first. Old-run-down buildings, dirty streets with trash everywhere, people peeing against walls in public, children walking barefoot, street-vendors hustling to make a living, and traffic that was busy, loud, and hectic! It was a big first impression and I didn’t really know how to handle it since it was soo much at one given moment.

The places I visited were Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. The ship was docked in Chennai, but I was gone the whole time there so did not really see much of Chennai besides the bus ride to and from the airport there. I traveled with about 80 other students on a 5 day 4 night adventure.

It was REALLY hard for me to see all of what India is. At one point I almost broke down in our tour bus. It was a lot to take in at once. I wish I could show you all and explain to you guys everything I experienced, but it would be impossible to convey the same feelings that I felt there… There were soo many, I felt sad and angry at the same time. Excited, but tired at another. Soo many emotions and feelings in such a short time makes you think, think a lot about the world we live in and the way we choose or not choose to live. I spent most of my time on the bus traveling to the different parts of India, but I saw soo much by just looking out the window.

Here’s something from my field journal I wrote during my bus ride:
March 6th, 2009
“Driving through the country you see soo much looking out the window. I think it just barely hit me that I am really here, and the life I see outside is a reality. Soo much diversity, yet soo much poverty. Kids roaming barefoot through the roads, babies holding babies begging in the streets… Endless like and colors, some brighter than others. I looked outside the window and saw tired faces, people of all ages, working, hustling, a never ending story…”

There are people literally EVERYWHERE!!! It is crazzyyy how many people there are. Some people would wave and smile, and I would wave and smile back and get really excited. And other people would just stare, stare and look just as we were doing, maybe we were the first non-Indian people they had seen in person, could be… I’m not sure, but we definitely spent a lot of time on the tour busses and I could not believe that soo much life exists at all time of the day and night. It is insane!

I definitely have a greater appreciation for the Indian people and culture. I visited a Hindu temple in Dehli and it was really interesting. I never took the time to actually learn about the religion and now I can really understand what the religion conveys and practices. I have soo much more respect for other religions and am humbled by how welcoming they were to us in letting us visit. It was the 1st Hindu temple I had ever been to and was a gorgeous one at that. There is a lot of symbolism and insight to phrases plastered all over the temple walls. Religious figures painted and carved everywhere you look in a variety of colors. It was impressive art and the history behind it all was amazing.

I feel like a changed person in some ways after leaving India. I saw A LOT of things, some really beautiful and surreal things like the Taj Mahal, and some really sad and emotional things like the corruption of some of the people there and the poor children begging on every corner. They told us that we would change after India, that it would be impossible not to change after what we would see. I feel like I have changed in many ways. It is hard to describe, but I can feel it inside of me that something is different. I guess it will be apparent when I return home and there is a certain aspect about me that is different.

I visited monuments that had guards in front of them armed with AK-47s. I went to palaces with mirrored and gold walls. I walked through the dirt-roads and watched out for cows in my path. I rode an elephant up to one palace in Jaipur. I bargained my way back and forth with street vendors to get the best price for my souvenirs. I tried the Indian food I was always afraid to try in the states. I walked through the city of Dehli at night in search of an ATM. I got lost in the streets, but always seemed to find my way back. I met six little Indian girls that couldn’t stop smiling and wanting my attention. I brushed my teeth with bottled water because they told me to. I saw the snake charmer play his flute and a cobra slither out of its basket. I rode in a rig-shaw-taxi when they told us not to. I visited the Taj Mahal and embraced the moment looking at one of the 7 wonders of the world. I took pictures to remember those moments that will never come again. I got the worst allergies because of the bad air quality and could barely see. I wore sunglasses for half of the trip because of how red my eye looked. I made myself stay awake on the long bus rides so I could stare outside my window. I saw life I never knew existed. I saw poverty in its worst form. I tried to buy food for the begging boy holding his baby brother that was hungry. I tried to understand why the boy didn’t want the food. I tried to understand why the King cut the 20,000 men’s arms off after they built the Taj Mahal. I tried to understand the caste system, but failed to let it set in my mind as fair. I tried to understand why the people would let the corruption of the orphan children occur. I tried to understand why they purposely disable the children and make them beg for a rupee. I tried to understand why they told us not to help the beggars. I tried to understand why the air was soo thick. I tried to understand why the streets were soo dirty. I tried to understand why nobody seemed to care.

Now I understand why they told me India would be a country I would NEVER forget…

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