We all made it to New Delhi. The plane rides went smoothly enough. On the plane from Chicago to New Delhi I sat next to a nice man, Bhatnagar, who lives outside of Delhi but had been in Chicago visiting his daughter for a couple of months. During the 14 hours plane ride, he taught me some Hindi, some Indian history, and also shared with me his spiritual practices. He was very kind and helpful and a very good start to my Indian experience. After arriving in Delhi I met up with the rest of the group and we were taken to the YWCA hotel in Delhi.
The first two nights we spent at the YWCA hotel. The hotel was right next to a Sikh temple, which opens at 4am, and chanting began at about 2:30am. The combination of jet lag and chanting made for somewhat restless nights, but our MSID leaders have been taking very good care of us and making sure we get the rest we need. In Delhi we did some orientation and introductions and also took a short tour of the city. We saw some of the business district, the Presidential House, the Red Fort, and lots of traffic. There are tons of auto-rickshaw, cars, buses, bikes, pedestrians, trucks, and we even saw an elephant! Some of us also visited the Sikh temple next door to the YWCA and a kind man showed us around and explained to us a bit about the temple and what people were doing and also gave us booklets of Sikhism.
Two days ago we traveled in cars to just outside of Jaipur where we have been having orientation. We are staying at a hotel called The Gold Palace, which is probably nicer than places I would normally stay in the USA or abroad, but it has been a nice place for us to rest, relax and get over jet lag. Orientation has included discussions about Indian history, development and globalization, living in India, Indian host families and home stays, emergency situation problem-solving, etc.
Tomorrow afternoon we move in with our host families and Rachel and I are very excited to meet our family. We were told that we are living with a family that has children, the mother is a Yoga master and is excited to teach us to cook. The family lives in apartments near the Ganesh Temple, which we are told is busy most days, but especially busy on Wednesdays because there is a fair/festival which includes vendors and thousands of people visiting the temple.
Other thoughts: It is VERY hot here and I pretty much sweat non-stop when outside. The food is amazing! And I am excited for all that this semester will bring.
Missing and loving you all.