Posted by Amanda
A very early morning as Noah and I are leading different SAS trips to Delhi, Agra, and the Taj Mahal. His trip left at 3:30am while mine left at 4:00am.
My 40 students (38 students, a lifelong learner, and me) took a flight from Chennai to Delhi. Our guide took us on a city tour. Most of us were tired so we rudely slept for much of it. The buses only hold 35 people so we are split into 20 and 20. I am not too fond of that because it is hard to keep track of everyone but I guess it is what it is.
We did stop at the Qutub Minar. This is the tallest brick minaret in the world according to the inflight magazine on Jet Airways. The area is basically a ruined mosque. It was built with something like the parts from 27 Hindu temples. The Hindu parts often had naked or in some other way offensive scuptures on them that were altered or scraped off in some way.
For the rest of the city tour I pretty much slept. Whenever our guide would point something out, I'd wake up, look, and almost instanty go back to sleep. From what I did see, the government buildings are beautiful, very ancient Greek looking. I wish we'd had time to stop and see them. The traffic was truly awful. I should have gotten more photos, but out of the bus windows didn't seem like a good idea.
We did see a number of roadside barbers. They would have a barber chair, a mirror leaning on something and nothing else. No shop, no electricity, just the chair by the road. On the long drive to Agra (5-6 hours), we saw a number of camels being ridden. The streets were chaotic and there would be piles of trash everywhere. Plus, dogs were everywhere. I am sure a number of those sleeping by the side of the road were actually dead--likely hit by a car and just managed to crawl to the side of the road to die. I really had to try hard not to pet all of the ones I saw--particularly since dogs and monkeys are the worst for having rabies.
It seems almost every woman is in a saree or a salwar (a long shirt and pants with a scarf). The colors are so amazing and vivid. With so much dirt everwhere it would seem to dull the color, but it doesn't. And, for all of their modesty, the half shirt they wear doesn't hide any fat they may have on their stomach.
When we finally got to the hotel, we had a nice buffet dinner and headed to our luxurious beds. The hotel is very posh. I wish Noah were here to enjoy it. I did learn the other bus stopped at a carpet store with thousand dollar carpets. Sounds like shades of China to me. Somehow our guide let us skip it. I also ran into Noah's group a bit and Rachel's group which is actually just an extension of my group.
The Global Studies before we got to India was really interesting. The professor did a comparison of China and India. I had been wondering if there'd be a lot of similarities between the two. Here are some of the stats he put up:
Government Type: China--nondemocracy, India--liberal democracy; Press freedom rank of 194 countries: China--177th (not free), India--81st (partly free); Economic freedom rank of 127 countries: China--86th, India--66th; Religious freedom: China--not free, India--partly free; % Women in national legislature: China--22%, India--8%; Political stability: China--high, India--medium; Corruption index of 102 countries: China--59th, India 71st; Life expectancy: China--72, India--64; Literacy rate: China--91%, India--60%; Infant mortality/1000: China--25, India--55; % access to essential drugs: China--85%, India--35%; TV/1000: China--250, India--81; % below the national poverty line: China--4.6%, India--28.6%.