I'm back home now...Kristen and I went to the market in sector 22 of chandigarh to look around, then i came home for dinner, and we chit chatted with our homestay family for a while. Anyways, I wrote about twice as much as got posted in the last post but the internet disconnected, so it got lost somewhere in cyber space. I'm going to try this again. Mati (our field school prof) sent the email to us of what we wrote to sfu people. I'm going to copy and paste it, and add my thoughts at the end (I'm too tired to write out everything we've done). Here we go:
From the Participants of India Field School 2007: Jessica, Reema, YooSun, Amber, Kristen, Caitlin, Pooja, Channdika, Katie, Meghan, Nathan, Bobby, Ashok, Balraj, and Mati (Director)
SFU’s India Field School left Canada on September 24 and landed in Delhi in the early morning of Sept 26. We’ve been here less than a week, but have already done so much and met so many wonderfully warm people that we feeling welcome and very much at home. Here are a few stories of our adventures so far:
Our flight to India took 25 hours in total with a three hour layover in Hong Kong. We flew Cathay Pacific and we were spoiled! We ate delicious food (and lots of it!), watched movies and were generally pampered. From the air Hong Kong was beautiful. All of the apartment buildings were tall with lots of beautiful colors. When we flew over Delhi it was about 1:30 am and we noticed that the surrounding area was flat and much darker. This was a bit deceiving because by day Delhi is a vibrant and colorful city. From the airport we hopped on a bus to take us to our guest house. On the sides of the streets we saw people sleeping, fires burning and ornately decorated taxis and rickshaws! As for the road rules… uh, what rules? There is constant honking, cows have the right of way, road lines are optional, but surprisingly, drivers seem to have a sixth sense awareness of the traffic around them. To travel from Delhi to Chandigarh we took the train. New Delhi train station is a world of its own! Our bus parallel parked a space fit for a Mini Cooper and we had to carry all of our luggage for what seemed like five miles to reach the station platform with sweat dripping off of everywhere! The caravan of luggage seemed to intrigue the locals as we had many quizzical stares.
When the train arrived it was absolute chaos to get our luggage from the platform to being safely stowed on the train. Once we made it and everyone and everything was accounted for we settled in and enjoyed the views of everything from slums to a beautiful sunset over farmland.
After arriving in Delhi we had an interesting meeting with some porters who tried to “cheat” us. This happened the moment we exited the airport doors and really helped us realize that we were not in the comfort of Canada anymore.
At around three am we reached our guest house called Likir House. After unloading our luggage from the bus and claiming our rooms we soon fell fast asleep. The following morning, we walked to the local market where we ate lunch and got acquainted with the local area where we would be staying for the next few days.
After our first day of resting and familiarizing ourselves with the neighborhood we were ready to explore the hustle and bustle of India. We went to Jama Masjid which is a beautiful mosque in Old Delhi. There is a high tower from which you can see an aerial view of Delhi. After this site we walked through Old Delhi and headed to the Red Fort. At the Fort we took a tour and learned that it was created by the Mughal Emperor and later conquered by the British. From there we went to Humayun’s Tomb where we spent much time taking photos of the grounds.
After our touring we went back to our guest house and went out for a nice dinner with Mati’s friends from UNICEF: “Mama” Ellen and her husband Samphe. On Friday we went to visit UNICEF where we discussed and learned about the education system in India.
After a quick lunch in the UNICEF cafeteria we went to the Bahai Temple which is beautifully built in the shape of a Lotus flower. Our next stop was the India Gate and the Parliament buildings. After this we headed to Connaught Place where we all got a chance to bargain and get goods from shirts to Indian suits to bags and sunglasses. We planned to go back to Red Fort to watch the Sound and Light show, but after dinner it began to rain really, really hard. We hopped back into our cars to make the (should be) 30 minute journey home, but given the traffic it ended up taking us 2 hours!
Maitreya Foundation Home:
Saturday morning we visited the Maitreya Foundation, a home in Dwarka, South Delhi for destitute and orphaned Tibetan refugees. After a drive of an hour from our guest house we were feeling quite tired, but the high spirits and energy of these 21 children soon rejuvenated us. They prayed with us, they ate with us, they played games and sang with us. We felt very much at home as they treated us like brothers and sisters.
Although these children do not have a home like you and I, their modest facility is full of people who love them: the volunteers, cooks, caretakers and Rinpoche (the founder of the home). This experience was probably the most meaningful for many of the field school students thus far. Seeing these children so happy and full of life in their position brought us a whole new appreciation for what we have in Canada.
After an approximately 4 hour train ride from Delhi to Chandigarh, we were met at the train station by our home-stay families. They are all very lovely people and they all feed us very well. Needless to say, some of us will be coming home a little rounder than you might remember us being. Our families are also good friends with one another so they’re all really quite close to each other. The community is so caring that everyone has decided to help Bal in his search for a wife J. The first ones to offer their services in this quest were Katie and Caitlin’s family, the Sandhus. They even pulled out the matrimonial section of the local paper to use as research material. Needless to say, Bal’s future in the romance department is lookin’ up J.
Back to the hospitality of the community: We’ve met some very nice people so far. For example, Nate was told by a policeman that if he needed a ticket to any upcoming cricket games after they had been sold out, he would gladly let Nate in to watch the game anyway. And the policeman didn’t even ask for bakshish (bribe).
Channdika, Meghan and Yoosun have a lovely view from the terrace (balcony) of their bedroom. The palm trees decorating the border of the property of the house across the street are quite lovely. If it weren’t for the hawkers coming by every morning selling their wares off of their bicycles or carts, one might think that we were living in Beverly Hills instead of in Chandigarh.
All in all, life is good. Some of us feel like we’re back in Vancouver while some of us are truly overwhelmed by what we’re seeing and hearing and doing. Feeling overwhelmed can be exhausting in itself but being the cohesive team that we are, there are lots of shoulders to lean on (and times to cry on) as well as lots of ears willing to listen. And of course, let’s not forget the many arms ready and willing to both give and receive hugs. So don’t worry about us: we’re growin’ up just fine J
We hope that you are all well! We’ll be in touch again with our next batch of stories J
India Field School 2007
ok - my favourite parts: Delhi: Old Delhi. It's like the hollywood vision of india - crowded streets, with lots of smells and sounds and people. Some people found it overwhelming, I personally loved it. The only thing i had problems with was that i was really interested in everything around me, so i wasn't looking where i was walking. I steped in many things that day. I don't know what they were and i hope i never know. Another favoutite spot in Delhi was Humayan's tomb. It was sooooo incredibly peaceful and beautiful (think architecture similar to the taj mahal). I'd like to go back there at the end of the trip, and do some reflectin'.
The visit to Maitreya house also really sticks out for me. As we said before, it is a place for tibetan orphans. As soon as you walk into the house, you are bombarded with joy and a supportive, loving attitude. It was really touching for me to spend time with these kids could have so much hate for the worls, yet are singing songs about hope for a peaceful world. When we first got there, they chated prayers for us, and to have a safe and happy trip. It was honestly, one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. After that, we taught them "skin-a-ma-rink-y-dink-y-dink" and they loved it!! We had lunch together after some singing, and after that, we were really honored by the rimpoche (a bhuddist who is recognized as the re-incarnation of a highly realized person) of the orphenage. He gave us kurtras (sp?). To give you an idea of the importance of kurtras, at the orphenage, they are placed over the photos of bonnie and fred (the people from childhaven int'l who financially support the orphenage) and the dalai lama. It was absoloutely amazing to receive the kurtras. After that, we went into the court yard, and i started teaching 5 kids how to play stella stella old. In one minute, all the other kids and students joined our circle and played with us. I led what was possibly the dunnest game of stella stella old i have ever played. We hung around with the kids for the rest of the day, singing "skin-a-skin-a-skin-a" and playing "stella stella stella stella stella stella". To say the least, i was really touched by my time there, and we are hopefully going to stop in on the way home.
The train ride to chandigarh was cold (a shock, since it Delhi it was so hot and humid that once I steped out of the shower I was sweating again (and I hardly sweat at home)) because it was ac. I was really looking forward to arriving in chandigarh, and get "home" and take everything out of my back pack.
Our homestay in Chandigarh, is good right now! It took some getting used to, but we're really enjoying it now.
ok - well that is all for now - it's my bed time since I've got to go to the elementary school that we'll be helping at tomorrow. I PROMISE I'll put pictures up tomorrow. PROMISE.
I miss you all, please send me some emails about what's going on in your life - I'd love to hear it.