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Nov 18, 2010

People To People Delegation To India, Day 3

Day 3, 11/18/2010-Delhi
Today was a day for cultural excursions. We began with a tour of the city of Delhi to get a sense of the historical changes from Old Delhi to New Delhi. We learned that, over time, Delhi has been rebuilt 8 times. The Moguls (from Persia) were influential in changing much of the culture as well as the British. In the area of the city that has been influenced by the British, there are lavish buildings, wide avenues, and carefully manicured lawns. In this section of the city, we found the embassies as well as current government buildings. In particular, our guide pointed out where President Obama and the First Lady were received when they visit India recently. We also visited the burial memorial for Mahatma Gandhi where the eternal flame burns in his honor. The grounds were very peaceful with beautiful floral arrangements and lots of green grass. We toured Humayan’s Tomb built in the 16th C. There was beautiful stone and tile works that represented the influence of the Moguls.

In Old Delhi, we were greeted by sights and sounds. It was exciting to ride the pedicabs (rickshaws that are peddled on bicycles). Riding through the narrow streets, we saw vendors beginning to open their shops to sell vegetables, fruits, clothing, carpets, linens, jewelry, and more. We were told that the streets become very chaotic when it is in full swing by the middle of the day. However, it is organized chaos to the local people. In Old Delhi, we stopped and toured the oldest mosque in the country that provided the architectural backdrop for the building of the Taj Mahal.

One of the highlights of the day was stopping at a craft emporium to learn about how the silk rugs are made in the northern part of the country and why these rugs are so sought after. The shop owners also had cashmere and silk scarves.

The day ended with a 4 hour ride from Delhi to Jaipur. All along the road, we saw people preparing for weddings as this was the first day of the wedding season in this part of the country. We saw the white horses that the grooms ride that are so beautifully decorated. We also saw people lavishly dressed, walking along toward wedding ceremonies. Other items of interest included sightings of water buffalo, goats, camels, monkeys, and pigs.

We arrived at our hotel around 9pm after a brief refreshment break in a small town about halfway between Delhi and Jaipur. Tomorrow we recommence our meetings.

Cirecie West-Olatunji, Associate Professor, Mental Health Track Coordinator Counselor Education at the University of Florida and ACA Governing Council Representatitve, is leading a People to People Disaster Mental Health Delegation to India. She will be sending us regular updates during her trip.

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