Saturday, January 12, 2013



Journey to India ... via Paris ... Wow ...

                                          


La Sorbonne - Université de Paris
December 31, 2012
What a beginning to our trip!

Yeah yeah Arc de Triomphe, Tour Eiffel, and all that. But Paris has so much more that many tourists never see.

Sunday morning mass at the Cathedral de Notre Dame de Paris followed by un café et un croissant at a nearby café. We then found our way to the Pantheon while passing La Sorbonne and Le Chateau de Cluny while stopping and marveling and the centuries old architecture of many buildings. Churches were admired for their beauty and ornate nature. We bought a crêpe from a window with a man looking out, leaning his head on his elbow and surveying the people passing by - many crescent shaped burns on his arms represented to me many years of crêpe fabrication.

We slowly moseyed over to Le Musée du Louvre and I considered the effort, the sweat and no doubt blood that went into it all. Some of us were tired and we crossed the road of Le Musée du Louvre and sat in a busy café for 90 minutes slowly sipping, laughing thinking. In my opinion this was the most local thing to do. There is nothing quite like sitting down with a window looking over Le Pont des Arts, and the other window staring straight at Le Musée du Louvre.

The hotspots are great in Paris, and if you ever come, do them all in the first day - Tour Eiffel, Arc de Triomphe etc., but please remember that Paris offers so much more for those who are willing to circle somewhere on a map and walk.
  
January 2, 2013
The Nursing Home for
psychiatric patients we visited
Wow! India is so warm – such a nice break from the wintry Minnesota, then again, I am from Australia and I think that many people find it a little too warm. The roads are always so full, and that stereotype of how in India they stack up their motorcycles with many people it looks like it is going to break – totally true. I’ve seen many families of 5 on a single motorcycle. 

Today we went to a psychiatric hospital to speak to doctors – they were so interesting! We learned about healthcare in India, about the mission statement of the hospital that was striving for nondiscriminatory healthcare for all peoples. It was amazing to hear the stories of its beginnings. Later on, we met a young female entrepreneur who has started a clothing line with a very simple idea – she said that in India, especially in the South, women have a way of finding their own independent success. This is contrary to many beliefs that are held of India in the Occident. This is going to contribute to our research projects that will focus on women in India. Mmm, I’m getting hungry though – I think tonight we are going to eat from that restaurant that serves about 15 meals for the equivalent of $5 – the Indian food is great.

January 4, 2013
Day three (technically) in India – and I can’t believe it has taken this long! We just ate with our hands – I was almost brought to tears from the experience. Our server, who was the epitome of love and humility, served our food for us – a perfect concoction of curry and rice, and we mixed it together and scooped it up into our fingers and led it to our mouths. We were having a relationship with our food that I hadn’t had since I was 5 … or younger. You can feel the warmth, the tender meat, the fibrous rice – it was so interesting to take the fork away and revisit my childhood.

January 5, 2013
There is this amazing marketplace that is an annual event in Hyderabad. Merchants from all around the country come to the fairgrounds to offer their products and there truly was EVERYTHING. The men quickly assembled and started buying things for their mothers – such beautiful scarves, handy-work, and memorabilia. We were able to haggle people down in price which is expected. The men found out that women are much better at haggling, and therefore saved so much money in comparison. It was such a cultural experience to see the products of India firsthand.

January 6, 2013
The farm with all sorts of plants growing ,
feeding off each other's nutrients
Today we went to the family farm of our trip faculty leader. It was so sweet to see the practice of permaculture in their agriculture practices. They try to get out of the land what they are given rather than controlling it, modifying it to give more when the land really isn’t up to it. 

There is a deep respect for the acceptance of the world being mysterious and often out of our control among the farming culture. For example, there wasn’t much water available to this particular farm, but they wanted to try to grow coconuts that take a lot of water. So they planted some and waited to see what happened… now, coconut trees line the driveway! It goes against logic, but it somehow works – there is this understanding that despite what should happen, other things do happen. I think this links in with their ideas about diversity too – even though a certain group is seen like this, you never know what this individual will be like.

January 7, 2013
Hello .... just a quick update ... we've been so busy and it's hard to find time to keep updating :D ..... Off to Delhi today – early flight – going to see the India gate, the presidential palace and parliament house. I'll add pictures later ....

India Gate
Presidential Building

January 7, 2013
Humalayun's Tomb
The day went long and many people were tired and wanted to get back. The tour guide said that for those who wanted, there was another place: Humayalun’s tomb. We said yes, thanks to someone announcing that that was the motto of the trip: “just say yes.” The tomb was amazing … well the palace around it was. It was actually the palace that the Taj Mahal was designed after – giving us a great preview of the Taj … We’re going to see that tomorrow.



January 9, 2013
Agra Fort
Agra – long bus ride, early morning, colder in the North of India. It was a really fun ride, most people slept, I didn’t, but it was fun feeling the sun rise slowly and watching the light cross the fields. The hotel was amazing, the weather was beautiful, and the Taj was to be visited! But first there was so much to cover! We learned about the emperor who was arrested from power by his son at placed into Agra Fort. The emperor loved his wife that died, and had built the Taj in memory of her. His son imprisoned him in a tower that overlooked the Taj. It was an octagonal room with a beautiful fountain outside it. I could imagine him looking at it and remembering his lost wife.


January 10, 2013
Dawn the next day – Taj Mahal! The Indian marble has crystals in it that lets a little light through, this is what makes the Taj look different colours at different times. It is really magnificent. I can’t really put it into words – the symmetry, one of the seven wonders of the world, I don’t really know what else to say.
The boys in front of Taj Mahal

January 11, 2013
We went back to Delhi after Agra to hop on a late flight back to Paris, then to Minneapolis/St. Paul. What a trip! I don’t know, even now how to process it all because I learned so much. The impression that is instilled in me right now is utter respect of their humility which I think leads to their work ethic. The people of India are hard workers, they find pride in every job they might have no matter what it might be. I will look to instill this in my own life.