Saturday, November 27, 2010

Delhi, Old and New

The scent of India greeted me on arrival at the New Delhi Indera Gandhi airport. The air was thick with a smokey smog, a mix of burning trash, plastic, cow dung and petrol. Even from the air, I could see the congestion of people/vehicles with the roadways clogged with rickshaws, cars, trucks and buses all burning diesel, and all honking.

Outside of the airport, it was chaotic. So many people. So many cars. And humidity plus fog-like smog. The driver took me and two fellow yogis (each arriving from the United States on separate flights) to our hotel. Ahhh, air conditioning. While it was 10:30 p.m. in Delhi, it was about noon according to my body clock, I feel asleep in the clean air almost immediately.

My first full day in India was spent in Delhi and included a tour of a 6,000-year-old city. Comfortably removed from the masses in our air conditioned motor coach, we toured Delhi, Old and New. Our tour guide ushered us by India’s White House equivalent and other government buildings, temples and city gates (“please,” our guide insisted, “cameras out please wecannotstop cameras please”).

Among the views from the bus:

A solemn highlight was the visit to the National Gandhi Museum. Mahatma Gandhi has been a personal inspiration -- he embodied and applied ahimsa, or nonviolence, on a global scale.

Especially humbling was his small simple room with his bed, pillow and prayer beads. One wall held a case housing his remaining artifacts: eye glasses, his cane, cutlery and not much more. “Simplicity,” Gandhi said, “is the essence of universality.”

The remainder of my pilgrimage to India was a simply beautiful and enchanting dream.

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