India 2014 Day 1: Welcome to Roshni and New Delhi Sights

After saying a fond goodbye to our parents in San Francisco, we departed for India! Our first flight was uneventful (though there was perhaps less sleeping than intended) as was the one-hour layover in Hong Kong. Customs and Immigration went smoothly (it even included a marriage proposal!?), and the bus ride to Colonels retreat was very quiet. After safely arriving at the Guest House at 1:30 am, our entire group went to sleep.

This morning we woke up easily (due to a combination of light sleep and loud alarms), and had a delicious breakfast of customized eggs and Aloo Paratha (a.k.a. a flat potato bread, that “tasted like a savory pancake”) with various chutneys.

At about 9:30 am we piled onto our bus and a short ride later we were at the Indian International Center (reminiscent of a small conference center), where we met the Roshni girls!
They presented us with beautiful bangles and bindis and marigold leis, and placed a red tika on our foreheads (visible in some of the pictures).  They performed a welcoming song and a traditional dance, and had made a rangoli (seen above) out of various flowers including marigold and rose petals. We had tea, and “Structured Interaction” where the facilitator asked us a question and we all responded individually in groups, then summarized and looked for overall themes (for example, a question was “What was your earliest memory?”). Then we presented fun facts about the SF Bay area (Frozen yogurt, SF sites, Apple, and micro-climates!) and watched a presentation on Delhi (International Toilet Museum, second largest bird population, and Chandhi Chowk!). Then we partnered up with the Roshni girls and got to know each other better by filling out questionnaires and sharing a little bit about ourselves. We ended our visit with an Indian-Chinese lunch. The Roshni girls and the amazing Roshni staff could not have been more welcoming.

In the afternoon we moved onto sightseeing. We visited Luteyn’s Delhi (including parliament and various other government buildings), freaked out at the sight of some monkeys roaming freely, drove by the India Gate and snapped photos out the bus window, then moved onto Humayun’s tomb.

We concluded today’s sightseeing with the Akshardham temple, a spiritual experience with no shoes, technology, or scarves with words on them…(a place of many rules). Intricately carved with a sandstone exterior, with statues of elephants and an a similarly detailed marble interior (there are pictures on the site linked above – we have no photos as cameras were forbidden).

Back at the Guest House, we had a great traditional dinner and time to decompress. Hopefully tonight we’ll a full night of sleep! More pictures tomorrow!

Clare T.

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  • Stacey Kertsman

    Thanks so much for this fabulous post! It reflects the variety of experiences you’re having each day, and it also makes me very hungry! I might need to attempt to cook some Indian food tonight just to feel a little closer to your amazing experience. Keep them coming!

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