Delhi- A City of Cities

Qutar Minab- Mongol runes in Delhi

I’ve had pretty limited Internet access since coming to India, so will try and catch up more once I get Internet on my own computer, but I did want to send an update on my first couple of days. My first four days in India were spent in Delhi, with a good friend of mine from high school. I’d say that I’ve had a really wonderful introduction to India, and hope I can came back to Delhi to explore¬† more- I really only saw the tip of the ice-berg.

I suppose that the first things that stuck me about Delhi was the heat. Even coming from a DC summer it was really hot and humid. Driving back from the airport, even at 11 o’clock at night you can tell that is is a hustling bustling place. The crazy traffic brought back fond memories of Cairo; your sitting in the car driving down the exact middle of the road, swerving around bycical rickshaws, auto rickshaws, motorcycles, trucks and cows all crowded on the road.

I spent Friday visitng my friend’s college- Lady Harding Medical College, where she is about half way though the five years it requires to become a Doctor. I was incredibly impressed by the Delhi metro, which only opened in the last few years and is still being expanded. It seemed nicer then the DC metro and apparently is used by over 2 million people a day! it highlighted the incredible contrasts of rapid economic and technological development alongside still rampant poverty.The campus was very green and a big muddy.¬† I took a nap in the college hostel while y friend attended class- although the buildings and campus are rather dirty and trash felled it seemed a dorm room any where in the world has the same basic characteristics.

While touring around CP- a giant roundabout (which is what traffic circles are called) and the sounding area we got caught in my first monsoon rain. We were soaked in minutes but it was quite warm. All though the streets were filled with mud puddles, and the blue bag I was carrying leaked die all over my clothes I found it absolutely delightful. I also had some amazing home made India food for dinner.

Saturday we took a car to see a bunch of sites around Delhi. We stopped at Gandhi’s tomb at Raj Ghat, saw the outside of the Red Fort and Chandni Chowk ()a cool market street), India Gate, The National Gallery of Modern Art and the Qutb Minar complex (really cool ruins). I will put up pictures when I get Internet on my own computer ūüôā

Sunday my friend’s family and i took a day trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal (see picture on the right!). We left at 5:00 am to bet the traffic out of Delhi, and it took us just under 4 hours to reach Agra, including a stop for breakfast. the Taj is really incredible, and somehow even the crowds of people didn’t diminish its grandeur. Having to literally push your way though a mob of people to get in the door was rather unpleasant, especially in the 35 (~100) degree heat, but it is truly a spectacular building. One thing I didn’t realize was that the building is exactly the same on

all four sides, and the only thing in the entire complete that is not symmetric is the tomb of Shah Jahan, who is laid next to his wife Mumtax Mahal for whom the Taj was built. We also got to see the Agra Fort, which is incredibly large and beautiful.We didn’t end up getting back to Delhi until around 10pm, and then got some really great food at an Indian equivalent of a fast food restaurant in am mall food court; way better and healthier then anything I’ve ever gotten in a food court in the US before!

My final day in Delhi, Monday, we went shopping. We went to both a very western style mall and a more traditional market near CP. I ended up getting

two Kurtas (shirts) and one Pajama (pants- apparently the English word comes from hini?) which I like a lot. I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of choice in women’s clothing here, there were hundreds of shirts stacked in tiny shops, crowded with women taking advantage of sales.¬† It was actually my friend that drove us to and from the market, she recently got her license. Driving was really crazy, and I have no desire to try it!

Monday evening I was off to Mumbai to meet up with the Alliance group, we had a few days of¬† orientation and then headed to Pune where I am now staying with my wonderful host family. I’ll write more on that when I have my own Internet and can put pictures up too!

Here are a few more photos!

The Delhi Metro- very impressive

The Presidents Palace - the center of Government in Delhi

I got a lantern here at a market in Delhi

Part of the Qutar Minab conplex- beautiful stone work

Another view of Qutar Minab- a large minaret

The back gate of the Taj Mahal

The Red Fort in Agra

The Delhi Metro- very impressive

A Little Bit of Background

I wanted to start off this blog with a little bit of background to my study abroad program and the place I will be spending the better part of the next four months, Pune, in the state of Maharashtra,¬†India. As a geography major I can’t help but trying to orient myself, and you, about the place I will be spending my¬†semester, so am including some geographical information about India and Pune.

I have always been fond of maps, and since few people who are not from or have not traveled widely in India have heard of Pune, I am including a few to help orient you to where I will be living. The study abroad agency that I am going with iscalled Alliance for Global Education, and the program is entitled Contemporary India: Environment, Development and Public Health.

I will be taking classes on India, environmental issues in India, economic development of India, and social justice. All of my classes will be in English with the other (30) students on the program, but classes are held at Ferguson University, a local university.

Before I head to Pune however, I will be meeting up with a good friend of mine from high school in Delhi. We will spend a couple of days catching up, touring some major sites, before my program begins on August 22nd.

I attempted to do a little¬†research¬†on Pune, but most of this information is taken from Wikipedia and shouldn’t be taken as 100% accurate. Pune is the eighth largest¬†metropolitan¬†area in India, the second largest in Maharashtra, after Mumbai.¬†¬† It is a cultural and academic hub, with many universities and students.

The city goes though summer, monsoon and winter seasons. I will be there for the last few months of Monsoons (which typically last until October) and then for a few of the cooler winter months where temperatures range about 10-28 degrees C (50-80 degrees Fahrenheit.) It is located near several rivers, and is roughly 500m/ 1,800 feet above sea level.

The 2010¬†census¬†apparently¬†estimated Pune and its¬†surrounding¬†area at around 5.5 million people. The¬†official¬†language of Maharashtra is Marathi, although¬†apparently¬†many people also speak Hindi and/or English. While I won’t be taking language classes, and I have never considered languages my forte, I am hoping I can pick up at least some basic Marathi,¬†at least¬†enough for¬†taxis¬†and¬†bargaining.

I’m already incredibly¬†excited¬†about going to India. Although I have spent a significant amount of time overseas, and in the developing world, I find India is a unique and¬†fascinating¬†place. I can’t yet fathom what it will be like living there, but am once again struck by the ease at which modern society can step out of one world and into another with just a plane flight or two.