We’ve only been in India for five days now, but it feels like it’s been much longer than that. When we first got into Delhi at 2:00 am It hadn’t quite hit me yet that we were on the other side of the globe. And in the short amount of time that we’ve been here we’ve seen and done so much that it’s hard to keep track of it all. While we were in Delhi, we visited a few ancient sites as well as explored the city on rickshaw cycles like proper tourists. What happened on that day can only be described as a sensory overload. There were so many sights, sounds, and smells that it was hard to tell where each thing was coming from. The smell of incense was ever present, but there was also the smell of street vendors selling food, of animals that roamed the streets, and of the spices at the spice market. Traffic in Delhi was also a completely new experience. You couldn’t go more than five seconds without hearing a honk from a scooter or car and it seemed like the only traffic law was don’t crash into each other.
One of the more prominent things we all noticed was the obvious contrast in wealth in both the countryside and in the city. You could see people wearing designer clothes standing next to people in rags. I think this affected a lot of people’s perspectives on India and wealth gaps. Another thing that I found interesting while we explored both the city and the countryside is the presence of religion in people’s everyday lives (the reason why we are on this trip). Not only were there merchants selling trinkets for tourists to buy, but there were also merchants selling Hindu and Buddhist icons. At one point we cycled past a scooter and I happened to notice that behind the wheel the driver had a picture of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva taped in place. There were also small shrines that could be found outside the sacred sites we visited as well as strewn about the countryside. The influence of religion on daily life here in India is very different from what we see in most Western cultures. There is so much to learn about this culture that most of us are completely unfamiliar with and I can’t wait to start this journey with everybody!