Saturday, March 15, 2008

One week down, one to go

It's Sunday morning as I write this and we are now into the first week of this visit to India.

While here I’ve already seen Delhi, Bareilly, Lucknow (well, if you call the drive to the hotel and back to the airport “seeing" it), two small villages outside of Baduai (in the Baduan district), and a retail store in the middle of nowhere which looks like the Indian version of Wal-mart but on a very small scale. Otherwise I have been inside in meetings in a hotel, not counting the one day lost where I was in my hotel room getting some much-needed rest and recovery.

I am now sitting in my hotel room in Delhi before departing on a plane tonight to Indore. Not a day has gone by where we haven’t been traveling, either by plane or car. To say that it wearies me is an understatement.

What also wearies me is seeing so many people of abject poverty. It’s a nonstop barrage of dirty people on littered, dusty streets, some without shoes, some sleeping near the road, some of them, the ones with some belongings, are farmers, who have their ox-driven carts or herd of goats and are going to market. On the roads, and sometimes its hard to call them roads, are thousands of large brightly-colored decorated cargo trucks (all made by the huge company TATA). Sometimes there are so many on the road at one time they look like a uniformed convoy.

These pictures are from the two sightseeing areas I had a chance to get to on the first day of my arrival. The first is Qtab Minar. It’s an ancient tower which was used for astrological purposes something like 1500 year ago. There were some other structures around it, as well. The other was Humayan’s tomb, which was a precursor to the Taj Mahal, only built with red sandstone. There were also several other buildings and tombs surrounding the area (in fact, I think someone said it is the burial ground of 1000 Mughals). It was quite beautiful and the grounds were well-manicured, making the place seem serene as it rests in the heart of such a bustling city.

My main impression of India, other than the smell, is the vast amount of people. Even in the so-called rural areas, they are swarming everywhere, constantly on the move. If you are claustrophobic, this is not the place for you.

Today I may go to the Khan market and also look for rugs. We’ll see how that goes.

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