India was a very mixed experience, but I think that all in all, I liked it. It was a mix of extreme sadness and extreme awesomeness. The poverty was overwhelming at times but some of the amazing structures were better than any that I’ve ever seen.
On the first day in India, we pulled into the port and went right out with our teacher, Ms. Dewald to Skype Eli’s family and go to the mall. Skyping went pretty well except we couldn’t see them because the internet was so slow. At least we could hear them and they could hear us and see us. The mall was cool. It was like a mall with the different floors and all the little shops, except most of them didn’t have fixed prices and you had to bargain. It was like a normal Indian market except they were selling electronics and other modern stuff. It was a strange experience, but a fun one. Then, we tried getting back, which was when stuff really started to happen. We hailed not a cab, but an auto rickshaw, which is what they usually use in India for quick travel. It is a tiny little car with three wheels, three tiny seats in the back, and no doors. It felt like it was a go-cart. What we did was that we put Eli on the right side where there was no door, Cyrus on Ms. Dewald’s lap in the middle, and me on the left side where was no door either. So we got into this guy’s rickshaw, and sped off down the highway, darting around other vehicles, driving in the wrong lane, and after a while, we realized that our driver: A. Could not speak any English, B. Did not know where the port was, C. did not know what a port was, D. did not know where the port was when the word port was translated into his language by some random guy that we met and E. could not read a map. Great. So we were just zipping along the highway with a driver that we could not communicate with that did not know where he was going and was such a bad driver that I had to close my eyes, it was so scary. We had to try to direct him to the port even though we had only been in India one day. Finally, we just stopped, got out paid him the cost, and ended up having to pay him 50 rupees more than we owed him so that he would stop blowing up at us. So finally, after a 20 minute walk back to the ship, we got back two hours late having worried our parents sick. All in all it was an exciting day!
On our second day, we woke up at 3:30, got on a bus, got on a plane, and flew to Old Delhi. We went and saw t
he red fort which basically a huge red fort. We went in and looked around the place for about 2 hours, and after we had an amazing Indian lunch, we went to the train station where we had a train ride that was supposed to be at 5:45 that was delayed two hours and that was supposed to take three hours and 55 minutes took over five hours. I know the other two boys completely exaggerated about this, so this is what really happened. Apparently while on the train, while I was asleep, I yelled out in my apparent anger about my lack of sleep, because we ended up getting a total of about nine hours of sleep in two days. So when we finally got back at one in the morning, they had dinner out for us. So we ended up eating two dinners that day, at the very beginning and end of the day.
On our third day in India, we woke up at five twenty in the morning, (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and went to the Taj Mahal. It felt like we were in a postcard, actually seeing it in front of us. It was awesome. The structure was so big and so perfect, it was amazing. We stayed there for a few hours touring it, outside and in. After a while, we finally got tired of it, and we went back to have breakfast. Next, we went to a place that a king built a city out of joy of having his first son out of 15 kids. It was abandoned after 15 years because of the lack of water. We saw what looked like swastikas everywhere, but we found out that before it was the sign of the Nazis, it was a Hindu sign. We also saw Jewish stars everywhere and we found that that was a Hindu sign as well.
So then, we went to lunch and then a market until sunset when we would go back to the Taj Mahal. We stayed there for about an hour, and went to the train station. At the train station, it was very sad. There were so many children begging, about half had deformities, like a missing leg or legs on the wrong places or missing toes, and they were scooting around on the ground touching you and asking for money. The ones that didn’t have problems would follow you everywhere, tugging on your arm, telling you they had no family. There were probably more beggars than people waiting for the train. It was a very uncomfortable situation and a very sad one as well. Finally, we got on the train back to Delhi. It was an express train this time, so we were only ½ hour late. We arrived in the fanciest hotel ever. In fact, it was a 7 star hotel. I thought there could only be 5 stars. Apparently it was one of only four 7 star hotels in the world.
So after our phone rang at 7:15, 7:20, 7:40, and somebody knocked on our door at 7:59, we finally got up to an amazing breakfast. After eating, I realized that the last game of the ALCS was on. I refused to leave the hotel for our tour until the Angels player struck out and the Yankees got in. So, after we boarded the bus 5 minutes late, we went on a tour of New Delhi. We then, had lunch at a place called paradise. It was great. The food in India is actually not as different from Indian food in America as I thought it would be. Next, we got on a flight back to Chennai, and our Taj Mahal trip was over.
On our last day in port, we went to a Hindu temple, and the mall. The temple was awesome. There was a huge tower thing that stuck straight up that was covered with hundreds of god statues. It was amazing how much time it must have taken to build each intricate god and they were the most colorful things I have ever seen. There were all these shrines inside where the Hindu people would stop to pray. I guess they choose a god to pray to every day. After my mom bought a ton of stuff at the mall, we left India and headed for Vietnam.
I thought the Indian culture was really cool with all of those religions, languages, and people; it made for an interesting atmosphere. I think the only things I didn’t like about India was its pollution and it’s poverty, but both of those are getting better.