I have now been to 5 out of the 7 continents! Bucket list: get to all 7.
Day 1: Our ship was docked in Cochin, which is in Southern India. We got off the ship and there it was: the hot, humid, sticky, sweaty feeling…yay! My roommate and I paid a rickshaw driver a total of $6 to drive us around and be our personal tour guide all day…try and find that kind of deal in the states. Our itinerary went sometime like this: we saw the Chinese fishing nets and the beaches, we went to Jew Town, Fort Cochin Beach, Siva Temple, the Ginger Warehouse, some cemeteries, the Spice Market, the Dutch Palace, St. Francis Church and we visited some schools. Not too bad for $3 a person, right? Lal (our ‘tour guide’) even bought us necklaces made of jasmine, they smelt incredible!
The first night in India was interesting…apparently Cochin has an 11pm curfew…every single thing shuts down at 11, if not before. So we went out for a little and hung out with some locals that we had met, played darts, drove some rickshaws around, and then headed home early…it reminded me of having a curfew back in the day!
Day 2: We explored the city some more, ate some awesome food, and walked around until my field trip. For my International Mass Media class we got to go to The Times of India newspaper office. The whole office came and talked to us and they told us all about their newspaper business. The Times of India only costs 2 rupee, which is 4 cents- wow.
They explained how this paper was different than papers in the US. They said that their online articles are not as popular as the actual paper, so they are not threatened at all by consumers switching over to the internet instead of the hard copy of the newspaper (this is becoming a huge problem in the US). They said that they aren’t threatened by this because the paper is so cheap and then once people have read it, they can sell the old newspaper and get money, so the print version still holds strong. It was interesting to read the paper and see how much US culture is incorporated into their papers. They follow Hollywood religiously, they followed the first Obama election, they wait for American artists to release new albums, and so on.
That night we went out to dinner and I ordered grilled fish. Next thing I know I was being pulled to the back of the restaurant and was asked to hand pick which fish I wanted out of a huge tub! The fish was awesome, a little spicy, but good, and we got lots of naan (Indian bread) to go with it!
Day 3: 4am flight to Delhi! We got to see Ghandi’s memorial which was beautiful. He wasn’t buried there, he was actually cremated and his remains are in lots of rivers all over India. We got to see Red Fort, Jama, Masjid, and Raj Ghat. Then we had an incredible lunch at Forte Grand. It was hands down the best meal I had on my whole India trip. They had chicken, curry, rice, naan, and all of this other stuff that I don’t even know the names of and it was all SO GOOD!
Then came the highlight of my whole trip. We went to the Lotus Temple of the Baha’i Faith. I had never heard of the Bahai Faith, but now I want to read so much more about it.
The Baha’i faith is a new, independent world religion whose aim is to unify humanity; “we are the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch. Although we differ from one another physically and emotionally and have different talents and capacities, we all spring from the same root: we all belong to the same human family…we should not allow the differences that exist in the physical characteristics- our temperaments, our backgrounds, our thoughts, and opinions- to give rise to conflict and strife.” There are 7 Houses of Worship in the world for the Baha’i Faith, they are in Western Samoa, Australia, Uganda, Panama, Germany, the US (Wilmette), and Delhi, India.
The Lotus Temple in India was incredible, it was a beautiful structure and inside it was just one big room. Inside this room it was dead silent and there were people from all different religions praying together. It is a place where people can come no matter their religion, their race, their beliefs, etc. and they can all pray together. “The Earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
Then we took a 4.5 hour train ride to Agra. My seat had what appeared to be bullet holes in the windows…scary? When in India…
To read more about Theresa’s time in India, see her next post: “India: And the Fun Continues…”
Submitted by Theresa, Abroad101 Global Ambassador on Semester at Sea