Drinking water out of a faucet. Eating an uncooked vegetable. Toilet paper. High speed internet. Clean air. Western toilets a *clean bathroom. Heck, a clean anything.
* Western toilets were available in some locations, but most were missing the seat – temporarily, indefinite ‘squatters’ that you prayed you kept your balance over – same with the actual squatters – just downright gross.
These are just a few of thousands of things I realized I am so grateful for upon arriving back in Minnesota, things I did not really appreciate until, say, I went into a bathroom not fearing for my life. So with Labor day weekend on the horizon, I would like to thank all American workers for your social and economic achievements, for things that are so often taken for granted on a daily basis.
One such thing is antibacterial hand sanitizers. I wish that whoever made my food a few weeks ago in India had a bottle, then I wouldn’t have to be taking 9 antibacterial meds a day. Our trekking guide in Nepal explained it best when he held up his left hand and counted his fingers off with “p-a-p-e-r.” If you care, I’m feeling much better.
Along with feeling better, how about I start posting my adventures from India, eh?
Along time ago (July 2010), in a far away land (India), there was a group of cultured Johnnies and Bennies (www.csbsju.edu) who were winding up the last leg of their journey through South Asia. They said their goodbyes to all the wonderful people they had befriended in Kathmandu, Nepal, and landed in a completely new city:
In the initial planning stages of our trip, we were going to spend more time as a group in India than just 4 days. Since we received the grant to do research in Nepal, our time was cut very short in India, which left us with an evening and a day in Delhi, one day in Agra, one day in Jaipur.
We saw only a fraction of Delhi, but it didn’t disappoint. First up, the Qutb Minar. Built in 1193, it is the world’s tallest brick minaret. After climbing so many types of towers in Europe, I was severely disappointed when I was told I couldn’t climb this one.
The lack of entrance to the top was made up for in the beautiful details of the complex’s Indo-Islamic architecture.
The Islamic complex was built upon an ancient place of worship for a number of Indian dieties; sadly, the temples were destroyed and the building materials were used to build the Qutb Minar.
We then visited the Jama Masjid, the most prominent mosque in Old Delhi. We were all dressed inappropriately for the visit and had to don colorful sheets.
The Jama mosque had relatively simple decor compared to the only other mosque I’ve been to, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali in Cairo. It was only a quick visit, and then we were off to the great Red Fort. It’s hard to describe anything about this fort, mainly because I have a two minute listening span when it comes to tour guides; I’d much rather go explore the places, take pictures at my own pace and read the signs if I happen to come across something interesting. Here I am taking a picture of the start of our group tour (right-hand side), I believe they stood there for 10 minutes as I went people watching in the area before heading through the gates. =)
Good thing I learned all about Indian art and architecture in an Eastern Art History course back in my art major days and reread my notes before traveling to these places. The Red Fort, along with the Jama Mosque, were built by the same Mughal Emperor who created the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan, in the 16th century. Luckily, we did most of our touring in the early morning and there were hardly any crowds.
I should specify that I was referring to crowds of women. Megan, Jess, Liz and I went straight through since all across India there are separate security queues for men and women. The guys had to wait in line (see: above).
There are many different areas to the fort, each with it’s own style and purpose. Again, I was too interested in getting up close and personal with the intricate details of the buildings than baking in the Indian summer sun with the tour guide. The building above had beautiful granite work with inlaid stonework. Amazing craftsmanship, which we saw repeated in our next destination: Agra and the Taj Mahal.