Our group at the embassy
Edo was feeling a lot better the next morning. We would continue our official visits of the study trip this day and for this morning we would have a discussion with a representative from the oil company Shell at the Dutch embassy. At breakfast I had a talk with Jacco Farla and Ruud Smits, one of our professors who had arrived in Delhi on Saturday. He would accompany us in the second week and after that he would travel to Agra and the north of India with his wife. After breakfast we drove to the embassy and by now I finally got the feeling that I knew where our hotel was located and I began to recognise some structure in the city of Delhi.
At the embassy we were received again by the same woman we had met the last time and she stayed with us for a while to follow our discussion. Our discussion was held in the embassy, because the Shell office in Delhi did not have a large enough room to accomodate our entire group. The goal of our discussion was not to learn about Shell or about innovation strategies in India, but it was to get a deeper understanding of Indian culture and the man we would meet here had told us that he would tell the truth about India. This man, Mr Deepak Mukarji, turned out to be an inspiring speaker and he started by telling us about the enormous problems that India faces today with the environment and poverty. Some 200 million people in India are now in the upper and middle class, while the rest lives in poverty and even over 200 million people live in absolute destitude conditions or bonded labour.
The Jama Mashid
He told us that his generation had failed to solve these problems and that it was now up to our generation to change the world. One of the things he told us about Indian culture was that Hindu's have a different god for every second of the day and that India has a very pacifistic tradition, because in their culture people never had to fight for their water. In India people live by the plough and by the cow, while cultures that originate from areas where water was scarce traditionally live by the sword and by the horse. He told us that they did not even fight for their freedom from the Brittish, but that they simply stopped working untill the Brittish went away themselves. He was a Christian himself, but he was married to a Hindu wife.
He also talked about the government of India, but according to him the only purpose of the government was to create jobs and produce paper and they were not able to solve the problems of India or to create good education and healthcare for their citizens.
The Jama Mashid
This did however change when Dr. Manmohan Singh, who was now the Prime Minister of India, opened up the economy for foreign investors during the late 1990's. The corruption and bureaucracy of the government was still a problem, but as the economy was growing and more foreign companies started to invest in India the government was also becoming more transparant and efficient. During a short brake in our discussion he told some of us about the problems with all the beggars on the streets of India and he told us that, allthough it was braking his heart every time he saw the women with their children, you had to get immune to them and that you did not help them by giving money. A few years before on christmas eve it was very cold in Delhi and he and his wife decided to share the christmas spirit by handing out blankets to all the beggars on the streets.
Casper and Erik at the top of the minaret
They drove around and handed out blankets, but the following day he noticed that nobody used the blankets, because people would pay more money if the women had shivvering baby's in their arms.
We also discussed the differences in religion in India and the way in which foreign companies contributed to the wellbeing of their employees, but at the end of the morning we had to end the discussion, because Mr. Mukarji had to leave us again. We thanked him for his time and drove back to the hotel to change our formal clothes and have something to eat in Karol Bagh. In the afternoon we would take the Metro to Old Delhi to make a second attempt to visit the Jama Mahid. This time we were allowed inside after I had payed for my camera and Erik had covered his legs with a blanket.
View from the Jama Mashid
The Jama Mashid was built in 1656 by emperor Shah Jahhan and it is the biggest mosque in India. The courtyard of the mosque can hold about 25.000 people. We walked around the walls and payed another 200 rupis to climb one of the minarets and another 100 rupis to leave our shoes behind. The minaret was very small and as there were no windows in it, it was completely dark at the top. On the platform on top of the minaret it was very crowded, but the view of the city was spectacular. At the eastern gate of the mosque we found Jacco Farla and Ruud Smits, who were about to enter it. At a market next to the mosque Erik bought a cricket bat and a tennis ball and we took a tuktuk ride to India gate to spend the rest of the afternoon playing cricket in the park.
After a while other people started watching and joined us, untill the tennis ball finally broke on the bat.
The red fort
While we were playing cricket Charlotte and Sanne were talking to a Sikh and a Muslim who had joined us in the park. They had an interesting discussion about religion, but I did not really follow it, because I was being distracted by children who were swimming in the ponds around the park and who wanted me to take pictures of them every time they jumped in. By this time my camera was beginning to get full, even though I could take about 400 pictures on it, so I had to throw a lot of it away again. At the end of the afternoon we said goodbye to the Sikh and the Muslim and took the Metro back to Karol Bagh.