Words by Sophie Pahl, currently in India.
LETTER HOME, #1
To my nearest and dearest!
It has been 5 days since arriving in India, upon arrival I went straight to the capital of Delhi for 3 days. I was surprised to hear that as I was visiting during the time of public holidays, there wasn’t much traffic on the roads and that there weren’t many people around. I was surprised because by my standards I wouldn’t say there were few people around by any means.
I’m sure that I’m still in some sort of culture shock, especially since having left Delhi to visit Agra (city of the Taj Mahal) – the settings and atmosphere have changed into something new again.
Never have I been presented with such a confrontation of being the minority, and never have I felt such awareness of my privilege. I’m still internalising what all of this may mean and how it will play out to change my perspective on my current state of life.
As for what I’ve seen so far – I have been able to lay eyes on some phenomenal monuments. The highlight of my first day visiting around Delhi was an incredible Sikh Temple by the title of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. This golden building was superbly decorated, but it wasn’t for it’s fine deities in statue form that blew me away, instead this temple was home of a grand kitchen that fed over 20,000 people daily. There was no cost to be fed here, and it was far from charity. The food supplied was received as a blessing rather than a given meal. No profits given or received at this temple, either. Each person was seated in single file on a rug on a floor in order to receive their meal, this was to show that no level of status was present in this dining room. Feeling no lesser nor greater than the other 200 people by my side in that room was how walking through a street is supposed to feel.
If you get the time, google Sikhism which is a religion derived from Hinduism that aims to teach the presence of one God, the inherent goodness and equality of both women and men before God and in order to find oneself closer to God is to service fellow human beings (think: aforementioned share kitchen..).
My second day was filled with much more confidence and pep in my step and I began by visiting the Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum; Indria Gandhi is to date the only female Prime Minister and one hell of a woman. She was a ruthless leader, centralised government in India, supported the war of independence resulting in war with Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh… For enlightenment on an incredible female world leader: Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi.
My following day I visited 4 amazing places; *Jantar Mantar, *Gandhi Smirti – assassination place of Gandhi, *Lotus Temple – Temple of the Bahá’í religion and *Akshardham Temple – the largest and most extravagant place I have ever lay eyes on.
Yesterday I travelled to Agra, the city known for the Taj Mahal. It was undoubtably one of the 7 wonders of the world. The Taj was speckled with divine purity sought in the white, crystal marble. I remained in awe for the two and a half hours I spent there. For what is essentially a tomb stone, I have massive requests for when I die after seeing this.
Despite my few moments anxious and fearful moments surrounded by thousands upon thousands of people, I know the great means of those around me want no harm and that amongst all of the chaotic driving, beeping, pushing on the streets there is peace around every corner. Inside every mosque, temple, shrine and place of memorial there is a harmonious purpose that remembers, teaches or blesses with love.
I endeavour to seek love, peace and serenity on every street corner.
But for now, I’m going to seek food.
So long my lovelies, until next time!