Thursday July 5th
Some in our group decided to go to some temples and other sites, but I was dying to get into Delhi. The International School for Jain Studies campus is beautiful, but I wanted to venture out (of course with a group…I promised my family I would be safe). One of our group leaders Christopher Chapple from Loyola Marymount University organized our trip into Delhi. I am not sure that I would be able to navigate the city without people who are experienced with travel in India. We hired two taxis for ten of us to drive us around all day into the night. Divided 10 ways it was only Rs. 500 (500 rupees) each which is equivalent to $7.35. The current exchange rate is 68 rupees to the dollar. Once again the taxi ride was harrowing as the cars seem to drive millimeters from each other with motorcycles weaving in and out. I took all of these pictures from the taxi.
We went straight to shopping at Fab India which is very much like a department store. Kind of like a Nordstrom in the US. I wanted to buy some clothes and the women there help you shop. I wanted to get three Kurtis which are long shirt like dresses with block printing and embroidery and all kinds of designs. I also needed pants and some long scarfs called dupattas that women wear in many different ways with Kurtis and Salwar kameez. I ended up with three outfits and two beautiful dupattas. It was so fun shopping. I also got some souvenirs and the prices were quite reasonable. Honestly, it was too hot to bargain out in the street! It was around 100 degrees with a “feels like” temperature of 110! I also got to go to Starbucks which everyone knows is my favorite.
Arrived last night at 11:30 pm Delhi time after a 19 hour trip tired, but filled with anticipation. When I arrived at the airport it was hot, busy, and crowded.
I got my baggage, exchanged some currency and had an hour drive to the International School of Jain Studies University where I am staying. Driving in the taxi was a harrowing experience. I went to put on my seat belt, and Shivam, the man from the university accompanying me said, “there is no need”. I’m not even sure it worked. The taxis weave in and out of the trucks traffic at very high speeds. They beep at each other a lot!
I fell asleep immediately! Breakfast at 8:00 was cornflakes, toast and bananas served buffet style. I was surprised to learn that we remove our shoes to eat even though we were eating at tables.
Jains are vegetarians and do not eat any meat due to their strict belief in “ahimsa” or nonviolence. My favorite thing at lunch was these round things that resemble meatballs (which of course was not meatballs). They are made from chick peas and fried and were in a slightly spicy sauce.
The Campus is beautiful with a main temple, dormitories and classrooms. Hoping to get a picture of the peacocks that roam the campus. Haven’t seen one yet. Wait, Just saw one!
Spent most of the day being introduced to Jainism and its rituals, festivals, and ceremonies. Daily worship is called “puja”. It involves mantras (recitations) and reverence of twenty four Tirthankaras who are considered enlightened humans who taught the Jain path before becoming liberated from the cycle of rebirth. The last being Lord Mahavira who lived in the 500s BCE. These Tirthankaras are also known as “exemplars” as their lives are examples for Jains to live their lives along the path.
Hoping to get a full night’s sleep tonight to help with the jet lag. Wish there was a Starbucks nearby, but sadly there is not. The chai tea is a lovely substitute.
Just checked out the weather forecast in Delhi for this week and it’s hot! Don’t worry, it cools off to the 90s when I am there next week. I am hoping to buy some clothes there. Everyone says that the clothes there are best suited for the climate. I have never turned down a chance to go shopping!
Just three weeks until I leave for India. Studying the four dharmic traditions of India in four cities. Jainism in Delhi, Sikhism in Amritsar, Hinduism in Haridwar, and Buddhism in Sarnath. Can’t wait to leave on this adventure!