Dispatch #12 – New Delhi, India

welcome_delhi.jpg

“Very Welcome Delhi”

I arrived in New Delhi during Basant Panchami the puja and festival time honoring the Hindu deity Saraswati. In the sacred text of the Rig Veda she represents a river and the deity presiding over it. Saraswati is also identified with Vaach (speech), perfect speech that denotes intelligence. An apropos greetings being that the purpose of my trip is to conduct informational seminars at colleges.

Very welcome Delhi is the spontaneous greeting the fellow wearing the brown jacket gave me after insisting I take he and his friend’s photograph, imperfect speech perhaps but heartfelt nonetheless. Of all the countries I have visited India is absolutely my most favorite place. The genuine warmth and generosity of Indians never ceases to warm my heart.

First time visitors might be put off or even shocked by the chaos, crumbling infrastructure, pungent odor of burning cow dung, harrowing traffic, and calcophy of sound and gritty poverty. It is precisely this discomfort and strangeness combined with Indian hospitality that makes visiting India an exciting and transformative experience.

delhi_1.JPGThis is my 6th annual visit to New Delhi and I still have to adjust my perceptions and suspend judgment when I encounter the unfamiliar. For example when I arrived at my hotel at 2:00 am on a darkened narrow unpaved road. The sight of what appeared to be an abandoned hotel greeted me, the lobby was dark as is most of the building due to energy conservation. The building directly across from the hotel appeared to be in ruins. I booked this hotel on the Internet and thought that perhaps I had made very bad mistake and would be staying in a dive. I was pleasantly surprised by the size and appearance of my room.

delhi_2.JPGThe hotel and the neighborhood looked completely different in the light of day. The hotel staff has been exceedingly gracious and accommodating. It feels like I’m staying in someone’s home.

Stay tuned for upcoming dispatches from New Delhi, Mumbai (Bombay) and Pune.

delhi_dye.JPGChant peace.
[sw 2.12.08]

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