Orientation Week

New Delhi Travel Blog

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Sarah, Ed, and I outside of Dilli Hat

Hey Guys! I thought I'd let you know my goings-ons for the past couple of days.

On Monday, all of us newbies (which is everyone except Nienke) had our orientation after breakfast where we learned a little about India and the program. We got maps and notebooks and learned about the different monuments some of us are going to see. Rajiv taught us how to get around Delhi and answered our questions. Sarah, Miroku, Ed, Luisa and I went back down to M Block and ate lunch. That night for dinner, Rajiv took us all to his favorite restaurant, Chic Fish, for a welcome dinner.

Tuesday was our first sightseeing day. Sarah, Ed, and I got to go as part of our special programs. Our first stop was Dilli Hat Market. Let me just tell you how in love I am with this place! It has vendors from all over India and they change every two weeks.

Akshardahm Temple
Everything is beautifully handmade and handpainted. It was Rs 20 to get in (around $.50) and we got to wander around the market for while. I could spend all day in this market, but I had to remind myself that I have to budget my money! It was much smaller and more intimate than Central Market, and I like it so much better! It's my new favorite place on Earth! 

After Dilli Hat, we went to Akshardahm Temple, the largest Hindu temple in the world. It is the most incredible and beautilful building I have ever seen. Seriously, I cannot do it justice simply by describing it. Every inch of the building, outside and in, is handcarved with beautiful designs and figurines. Around the bottom of the outside, are 150 life-size handcarved elephant statues.

Ed was so excited to see a cow in the park!
The sad part is, you aren't allowed to bring cameras onto the temple grounds because 10 years ago there was an attempted terrorist attack and so security is very rigid. The only pictures we could take were from the road. But Google it people, and you can see what I'm talking about. We ate lunch at the food court there before heading home. We went during the day, so we missed out on the musical fountain show and boat ride, but Yogen offered to take Sarah and I back some evening. 

Tuesday night was our first dinner in the house. Priya, Rajiv's wife, made us rice, dal (lentils), roti (bread), and vegetables. Its a little weird because we eat our meals a few hours before Rajiv and his family. After dinner, a few of us walked down to M Block to visit a market and buy fruit (or chocolate in my case).

I was excited to see monkeys while we were walking around town!

Yesterday was mine and Ed's first language and culture class. We learned about the family structure, marriage system, caste system and a little basic Hindi. I can now introduce myself, ask for directions, count to 10, and haggle with auto rickshaw drivers all in Hindi. 

Class got out around 2:45 and everyone else was at their work placements so Ed and I headed down the street to Mithas, a little hole-in-the-wall that serves cheap but delicious food. Their naan is to die for! On our way back we discovered a marvelous little park right across the street from our house. There's cute little walkways and garden areas with benches to sit down. We even saw a cow and some peacocks! I'm so glad we found this park! It'll be such a nice place to go and relax in the nice weather when we have downtime. 

After dinner, we all just relaxed and unwound. Some of us Skyped or talked to friends and family. Our curfew is 10 pm, so there's not too much we can do. Tonight though, I think Sarah and I are going to try and find a supermarket or something. 

This morning there was a surprise addition to our porridge and tea - grilled potato sandwiches! It was like a grilled cheese but with potatoes inside; definitely not my favorite. Today our class consisted of a short Hindi lesson (Yogen taught me how to write my name!) and then we watched one of Yogen's favorite Bollywood film, Swades. It follows an Indian scientist working for NASA who returns to an Indian village to take his nanny back to America with him and in the process rediscovers his roots. It was such a good movie! I definitely want to check out some more films while I'm here. 

After class, Ed and I decided to meet Sarah and Miroku at their work site to check out the area. As we waited at the bus stop, we knew what number bus we needed but we were really unsure on which way we needed to go. I was pretty sure that they were close to the Red Fort, so I asked someone waiting for the bus which direction we needed. Yogen had drawn us a quick map of where we needed to go to get to the shelter, but when we got off the bus, nothing looked familiar. We decided just to wander around and see if we could find it. The neighborhood we found ourselves in was very poor. It was so filthy and there was wild animals everywhere; goats, pigs, dogs, chickens. It breaks your heart to see the children playing in squalor, but they are so cute and happy. Really makes me grateful for what I have now and had growing up (thank you Mom and Dad!). We kept taking twists and turns and doubling back, so, you guessed it, pretty soon we had no idea where we were! Never fear though! Ellen the intrepid explorer navigated us back to the bus stop. And yes, I really did find it! But on the bus ride back, the bus driver didn't stop at the right stop, so we had to walk a few extra blocks to get home. Everyone was already eating dinner when we got home. When we tried to explain to Sarah and Miroku where we had ended up, it turned out we had taken the wrong bus to start with and had gone in the complete opposite direction! Oops, my bad! But you were probably expecting something like that to happen to me, weren't you? Ed and I had a good laugh and it was fun and interesting adventure anyway. The funniest part of the day was when a herd of cows started crossing the busiest street and all of the people and buses had to stop and wait. And those cows took their time! It's like they know they can't be touched. 

Tomorrow we're doing a lot more sightseeing and Saturday, Sarah and I are off to the Taj Mahal! I really am loving it here and I'm so grateful that I'm getting this opportunity!

Love you all!


krucken1 says:
Ellen, I am so happy for you and am so proud of you. Enjoy every nano-second because it will fly by and it's a trip of a lifetime. Love you! Rhonda
Posted on: Feb 09, 2012
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Sarah, Ed, and I outside of Dilli …
Sarah, Ed, and I outside of Dilli…
Akshardahm Temple
Akshardahm Temple
Ed was so excited to see a cow in …
Ed was so excited to see a cow in…
I was excited to see monkeys while…
I was excited to see monkeys whil…
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