Delhi, India: PeRc3iViNg TRuTHs in Stinky Shoes

Dear Lunch Table,

The truth about the world is that you’ve got to be somewhat cautious. No, not about stolen backpacks, pointed guns, or falling rocks (though, being aware of these things never hurts), but the real danger is from gaining too many biases. In the world there are always different sides of a story. Often facts are hidden from the majority of the population – secrets kept from the world to prevent the tarnishing of an image. I guess the job of a traveler, of every human being actually, is to discover all sides of an issue. To not just stop with the easy, feel good answer. Take Indira Gandhi for example (no relation to Mahatma Gandhi) . . .

There are many sides of the world

The Background

Indira Gandhi was the first woman prime minister in India. She strengthened the democratic structure of her country, signed peace treaties with Pakistan, and ran for Prime Minister under the campaign slogan, “Abolish Poverty.” The famous Mahatma Gandhi was Indira’s very good friend and mentor. He influenced the prime minister at least a little bit, since she too struggled to give the poorer Indians a voice.

There are three prerequisites for Sikhs. They meditate on God’s name (Nam Japna), earn an honest living (Dharam Di Kirt Karna), and share with others (Vand Chhakna). Sikhism, with over 26 million practicing people worldwide, is a religion revolving around peace (though, I’m pretty sure all religions vouch for harmony).

The truth is both Indira and the Sikhs were peaceful and cared very much about India.

The Incident

In 1984 the Sikhs were occupying the Golden Temple, claiming this religious landmark was theirs. On the night of June 5th, Indian troops ordered by Indira Gandhi marched into the Golden Temple. By June 7th, the temple was under the army’s control. Over 500 people, perhaps even up to 1,500 (it’s debated), were killed. A few months later, Indira Gandhi, who took the heat for the act, Operation Blue Star, was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards as she was leaving her home.

Siding with the Sikhs

Indira Gandhi should be held responsible for ordering troops on her own people, causing the deaths of many Sikhs. How can the prime minister of India do this to her own citizens? How can she be trusted? What is she capable of next?

Siding with Indira

Indira sent the troops because she wanted India to be a country for everyone – to welcome all religions. Why should important, historical landmarks belong to a religion rather than a country? Why should the people of India be divided based on their religion? Shouldn’t the government and religion be separate?

So, perceptions

The world is awesome, but most of the time I don’t completely understand it. Figuring out this wacky world can be challenging. There are many types of people wandering through this confusing, rather large atmosphere, so it’s normal (and sometimes quite necessary) to borrow someone else’s shoes. But you have to be careful when wearing someone’s shoes, because sometimes their shoes stink. Their view of someone or something may be biased, and then when you’re back in your own shoes, you may see someone else through a tainted glass. So perhaps stepping back, standing on bare feet, is the best way to begin to understand the people in the world. Maybe, it’s the best way to find the truth.

Delhi is our last stop in India. I’m really sad to leave this country but am also excited to see the rest of the world. Bangkok, Thailand is up next.

I miss you guys,

KJ

Interesting Fact: The game Parchessi is based off of the Indian game, Pachisi. (By the way, I’m a better Parchissi player than anyone at the lunch table. Just saying . . . Mwahahaha)

Things to Do:

1) Indira Gandhi Museum: I’ll admit, before visiting the museum, I didn’t really know much about Indira Gandhi. The only information I did know about her was biased and negative. This attraction, however, gave me the perfect starting point to understanding her life. Indira’s house was converted into the museum. The place where she was assassinated, is now covered with pretty glass as a memorial. I absolutely loved this museum and thought the information was very well put together. It can get  crowded and hard to maneuver comfortably through her home, so perhaps it’s better to arrive earlier.

2) Gandhi Museum: I didn’t feel like the Gandhi Museum was as well put together as the Indira Gandhi museum, but it was definitely worth visiting. The museum provided a great base of knowledge. One powerful display is Gandhi’s blood stained clothes that he wore when he was murdered. If you choose to visit this museum, which I urge you to do, make sure you ask for a guide.

3) Jain Temple: We weren’t able to go into the Jain temple because it was closed when we arrived; however, we were able to enter the bird hospital. Jains believe that killing is unacceptable, even if it’s an insect. To follow this principle, Jains wear masks over their mouths so they don’t accidentally swallow a bug. They also use brooms to gently sweep their paths to prevent stepping on any creature. The bird hospital was an example of how Jains care for the world. Many injured birds found on the streets are taken care of in the hospital. I definitely recommend visiting the temple and the hospital.

4) City palace & parliament: We didn’t go into any of the buildings, but we drove down the very long street. It was beautiful and majestic. The regal buildings reminded me of a government’s power, and how powerful a person or an idea can be. Like Gandhi . . .

5) India Gate: Designed as a memorial for the soldiers who died serving the British in World War I, the India Gate is a great site to briefly visit before heading on to other wonders of Delhi. Beware! There are swarms of locals who come up to you and ask for a picture. Say cheese.

6) Raj Ghat: Memorials for important leaders of India are found in this park – a place where anyone can find refuge from the bustling city.

Indira’s simple memorial

The day we visited the Raj Ghat was the anniversary of Gandhi’s death. In remembrance, flowers decorated his memorial.

Gandhi’s memorial

Things I Didn’t Care For:

1) Humayun’s Tomb: I’m spoiled in the sense that I’ve seen so many famous guys’ tombs that I’m kind of tired of seeing the place where selfish rulers are buried. I know. It’s awful. I kind of walked aimlessly around for a little while and then wandered back outside. It was crowded and somewhat uncomfortable, but if you do go to the fort, which many people do visit, I recommend getting a guide – otherwise you won’t get much out of this experience.

2) Jama Masjid (India’s largest mosque): I’m fascinated with mosques. I really am. I didn’t, however, get much out of this adventure. Not only did we have a frustrating time getting into the mosque (the guy collecting people’s shoes was trying to get us to pay extra for no apparent reason), but we didn’t know why my mom and I had to wear a brightly colored, flowery dress over our clothes. We were already dress appropriately: covered shoulders, long pants, head scarves . . . Oh well, let the snuggie-looking clothing item remain a mystery . . .

3) Connaught Place (Contemporary Shopping Center): One night we decided to waddle over to this shopping district. It isn’t the most exciting place in the world. It’s pretty much a big, fat circle with the same five shops sprinkling the circumference. I would have preferred to discover the local markets instead.

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About KJ

I, KJ Davidson-Turner, have willingly given up the trauma and drama of Junior year and my lovely friends at the lunch table (I'm going to miss you guys!) to travel to unknown areas of the world and experience the cultures of these unfamiliar places.

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