India 2014 Day 2: Roshni Town Hall Meetings and Old Delhi

goodiebagAfter our first full night sleep, we woke feeling well rested. We put on our gorgeous kurti and scarf (given to us in our beautiful “gift bags” when we arrived), ready for the day ahead!  No two kurti were the same and each one was selected specifically for each of us by the awesome Roshni team!  And we looked pretty amazing as you can see in our photos!

After another wonderful breakfast at the Guest House, we broke up into four different groups and brainstormed questions to bring to the Roshni Town Hall meetings where we would start our day.

We then headed out in our vans in different directions to visit four different Roshni school sites for Town Hall meetings with students and their families. It was an extraordinary experience at each school visit. We met fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers – each with amazing stories of how the Roshni program has changed their thinking about education, marriage and their daughter’s future. They answered our questions and shared their feelings openly and honestly.  At times it was very emotional for everyone. Their daily lives, although very different from our own, still centered on family.  Parents expressed how important it was that their daughter found happiness in her life and in her work. And they had lots of questions for us too – about living in America, marriage, our holidays, our daily routine and our families.  It was a rich and meaningful exchange that touched our hearts and one we will not soon forget.

After taking some time to reflect in our journals after the school meetings we all met up again at Le Meridian Hotel for lunch.  A very elegant hotel with a buffet lunch that was as beautiful as it was delicious!  And the desserts (pictured here) seemed never-ending, as did the chocolate fountain!

After lunch we wrapped ourselves in our beautiful new scarves headed to bustling Old Delhi during the peak of Sunday shopping.

Atrafficfter inching our way through traffic in our very large bus…
We decided to pick up our rickshaws and cut across town to the Jama Masjid Mosque we were going to visit, as it seemed a quicker way to get there and indeed it was!

We made it across Old Delhi and to the mosque unscathed and certainly saw Old Delhi in a way that could only be seen by rickshaw!

We were required to cover our heads with scarves, wear long sleeves and pants and remove shoes before entering the mosque. The Jama Masjid, opened in 1656, is the principal mosque of Old Delhi. Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, it is the largest and best-known mosque in India. We had a guide who walked us through the mosque and shared the unique history of this amazing structure.  Although we couldn’t take pictures inside, we did get a wonderful group picture on the steps outside the gates.

Just one short rickshaw ride away from dinner and sleep…  And oh what a ride it was through the bustling Old Delhi shops with fish markets and chickens and just about anything else you can think of – it was there!  We arrived back at the Guest House for another delicious traditional dinner and shared more about our school meetings and the families we met there.  Then we spent an hour practicing our skits that we will be presenting tomorrow to our Roshni partners and off to bed!  A very full day that left us feeling even more connected to the Roshni community as well as more knowledgeable about life in India. And also very grateful to Team Roshni for taking such good care of us today! Shukriya Roshni Team!

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