By: Arthur Nichols
Yesterday, we woke up and ate paratha for breakfast and then we went to an ashram. There, we listened to the main religious leader singing, and everyone started dancing. The whole experience felt awkward, but it was cool at the end when the leader gave a speech. While his accent was hard to understand, what he said sounded welcoming. It struck me when he mentioned President Trump, and he was glad that he had just come to visit. After the ashram, we went to Humayan’s Tomb. It was bigger than the Taj Mahal, but my tomb will be bigger. Then, we got lunch and went to a big mall in Delhi. It didn’t really feel like India—you go in, but if I wasn’t around Indian people, I would’ve thought I was in the US. There was lots of wealth there—richer people and some nicer, designer stores, expensive clothes and food, that sort of thing. It contrasted wildly from the rest of Delhi that we’ve seen, especially where we’re staying. Around our hotel, there are lots of people selling fruits on carts and fake designer clothes.
Going into debrief after our first full day here, I asked the group about our first impressions. Specifically, we talked about how Delhi contradicts itself. There is light and darkness, like in The White Tiger. There is the old and the new. There is Modi, and how he incites violence behind the scenes but publicly denounces it at the same time. It seems different from the US where, no matter how low you are, there is always an opportunity to work your way up in society. It seems here like people might be more stuck in place, and I wonder how those contradictions play a role in that.
Before the trip began, we were all told to bring some item to India that represents part of our identity. I wanted to bring a guitar because it’s part of who I am, but then I decided it might be better to buy one here. So we went to two guitar stores in Delhi. I walked into the store, tried out a couple of guitars, and decided on a light wood colored one. The experience of buying the guitar in India felt the same as it does at home and I look forward to playing it throughout the trip.