Monday, March 17th, New Delhi, India
India is raw and colorful. So far my impressions are mixed. We have seen many smiling happy faces, kind people wishing us well. We have also seen a seedier side of poverty, and too many hands out wanting our money.
I was really looking forward to seeing the Holi Festival. In fact that is the main reason I chose to come to India at this time. Sadly in recent years it has changed. It used to be a beautiful sacred family tradition to welcome Spring. Powdered dyes that were tossed into the air in celebration were made from flowers. You can read more about the tradition here.
Today it is a raucous time with public drunkenness, rowdy water balloon fights, and street thugs roaming looking for trouble. Our hotel warned us that it could be dangerous to go out in the crowds and that many of the colored powders today were made from caustic chemicals that can sting and burn the skin.
Face covered in dye
Dick, Karen, Tim and I went out for about an hour in the morning. Jan and Gary chose to stay at the hotel. In that brief time we got hit by water balloons, had water dumped on us, were taken for a tuk tuk ride to a closed down section of city center and had a man follow along with us trying to get us to go to a marketplace and were led into a park that did not feel safe.
We decided to return to our hotel and observe the street happenings from inside. Fortunately we had a room on the second floor with a big window to watch from.
Water cannons with colored water are used to drench anyone in the line of fire
Three or four to a motorcycle is normal. Covered in dye
By the time it was dark, everything was back to normal. Well normal is a relative word – normal for this part of India anyway. Once again the four of us decided to go for a walk in the neighborhood around our hotel. Just a few blocks away was a main street lined with shops. We passed by medical dispensaries, small food markets, travel agents, many hotels and one food vendor after another.
The streets were strewn with trash, uneven pavement, pot holes, sleeping dogs and the occasional sacred cow. But the people seemed happy as they lined up to purchase their evening meal or a snack. This was their norm. I felt safe and content. The four of us were the only “gringos” I saw.
Here are a few shots I took during our walk.
The streets were alive with people, dogs, and motorbikes
Don’t know what it was, but in the window of a bake shop.
Frying up a form of bread. Dick and Karen got some to try.
It came with some kind of a sweet grain dip and hot beans.
Cow roamed down the street, stopping occasionally to eat from street trash.
The street lights in front of our hotel.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all our friends back home!
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for common sense. Sometimes I use it, and occasionally I push the boundaries. I’m glad that when I felt uncomfortable, I listened to that little voice inside and returned to our hotel. Did I miss out on seeing more – quite possibly. However, I am sure we will still have many more memories to make here in India.