more than usual, this trip is turning my skin inside out. my normal outgoing demeanor has become introspective and reflective. a connecting to my surroundings that silences my desire to be social. i sifted myself through the day. a late start after a late night allowed me to get an hour of work in before breakfast. i am finding a good balance of work and play. now i just need to find a space to rest.
as the day warmed up, we strolled around qutab minar, a very tall tower (238 ft.) that was build for the victory attached to quwwat-ul-islam mosque.
almost instantly, flocks of school children were surrounding us asked for their photos to be taken. boys and girls in their uniforms strutting their stuff in front of the lens. showing off their english and handshakes before abandoning all barriers and smothering us with hugs and kisses. i read an article once that you should get ten hugs per day. i am pretty sure i am set for the next week with the amount of squeezes shared. such attitude as they strike a pose. laughter as the run away and push their friend up. even the shy ones eventually got in the action.
and speaking of action, our next stop was full of it. we went for a short walk through the garden of five senses or lover’s park (a nickname whose origins became apparent fairly quickly). teenagers sprawled throughout the park with backs pressed against trees and lips locked. an entertaining spectacle as we ate our kulfi (ice cream) from a clay pot. the pots are just sun-dried, so when you are done, you can just throw them back to the earth to dissolve back into mud. a climb up amphitheater stairs and a brilliant view of delhi from above.
i always find myself looking up high. at the telephone wires, clouds, tops of buildings. my brain never expects to see humans, but in india, you do.
there is always someone hanging out on the rooftop. every building topped with people enjoying being up high, just like us at that moment.
and what is the one way to get even higher in india? no. the answer is good food. not just good food, but the best food in the country (colby, this paragraph is for you by demand). that’s right, the whole country. jasprit is friends with a man whose son lives in ann arbor. he owns park balluchi restaurant, a restaurant in the middle of a deer park in delhi. the indian tourism bureau voted him the best restaurant in the country for five years in a row. indian cuisine with afghanistan influences. wow. nothing like dining with the boss. course after course came out cooked to perfection. fish and chicken and dal and naan. finish it all up with one of my favorite desserts, gajar kahalva, a sort of carrot cake pudding. we left with full bellies and happy hearts.
best way to digest such spectacular cuisine…walk it off…at the lotus temple, a bahá’í house of worship shaped like a huge lotus flower. an impressive feat of architecture inside and out. simple yet complex. it sort of reminded me of the sydney opera house (from the photos i have seen anyways). a moment to reflect in the massive structure. a silent space for meditation.
i decided to stay in at night. my energy was low and walking around karol bagh to do some shopping seemed too taxing. i sent teresa, jasprit, and sybille out with a mission to bring me back a long sleeve top, and i took some time to myself in the hotel. took a shower, caught up with a friend, did some work, and wrote in my journal. i think finding your moments to be alone is one of the most important things a person can do when traveling with a group. every minute has a plan, and it is about recognizing how you need to spend your unplanned minutes to stay sane.
my companions returned with gifts galore. three hilariously awesome long sleeve shirts (dan, think something along the lines of the ones you always bring me back from japan), a super cute turquoise top, and two pairs of leggings. i officially ordained them as my personal shoppers from here on out.
the gift of giving is so simple and goes such a long way. i am grateful to be surrounded by such thoughtfulness.