Dear Students: Please excuse me for being so late on updating this blog for you. We has a great time in India although I had to go to the hospital on the last day to figure out why my right leg swelled up to the size of a watermelon. It turns out that I developed a small blood clot and it was great to find out that the Indian hospitals are every bit at good, perhaps better in some ways, than our own hospitals in the United States.
First off, you should know that India is BIG. Some people call India a sub-continent meaning that because of the way it sticks out like an ice cream cone under Tibet and China and because it is to large that it should be considered it's own continent. Take a look at a world map and let me know what you think. We arrived in India and docked at a very busy port in Chennai (can you find it on the map?). Chennai is huge and has more people than Los Angeles. It is also very noisy as the streets are filled with hundreds of thousands of motorbikes, cars, cows (yes, cows are allowed to go onto any street they like and people just drive around them), and to make it even nuttier there are lots of three wheeled taxis that are built around small motorcycles. I've included a picture that will give you an idea of the really crowded streets.
We saw some great sites, including the Taj Mahal that is a beautiful mausoleum (know what this word means?) built by a local prince to honor his dead wife. I've included a picture of the Taj Mahal as well and you may want to ask Ms. Elders about this great and beautiful building that is considered a Modern Wonder of the World. You may not know what I mean by calling it one of the Modern Wonders as most people learn about the ancient wonders of the world, like the pyramids in Egypt, and people are now voting on what they think are the modern wonders of the world. Do any of you have ideas on what would be a good candidate as a modern wonder of the world?
We flew from Chennai to New Delhi (which is the capital of India)and also took the trains and a bus to see the sites. The train stations were incredibly crowded with both passengers and lots of poor people, including some very poor people who were sleeping on the concrete floors wrapped in rags. I was leading a group of college students and adults and several of them were very shocked to see so many poor people living in such terrible conditions. At the same time we saw lots of well off people with big cars, cell phones, and very nice clothes. India is a country of great contrasts as its people can be very rich or very, very poor and mansions can be located very close to slums where people pick through the trash cans for something to eat.
I think that there is so much to see and learn about India that it would take months to get a real feel for the country. While we were there just under a week I will never forget the great noise of the streets, the beautiful color of the saris (women wear these beautiful wraps), and the very spicy food and huge crowds of people everywhere. I will write you again soon and send me your questions and comments.