Monday, 26 September 2011


So, in my last post I gave you all a glimpse into the city of Delhi; the noise, the smog, and the overwhelming size of it in general. However, I also mentioned that Delhi also has many beautiful sights to be seen. Yesterday some friends and I ventured out to explore one of them in New Delhi - Akshardham! The full name for this temple is actually Swaminarayan Akshardham as it is a temple dedicated to Lord Swaminarayan. Though this temple is one of the most impressive sights to see in Delhi, it was actually recently built and subsequently inaugurated a mere 6 years ago in 2005.

After about an hour and a half and 3 different metro lines, we (Carina, Lauren, Jorge, Charles, Kendra, Berit and I) finally made it to Akshardham. The sun was bright and hot as it usually is in Delhi, though it was a sunnier day than usual. Or was it just that we walked around for 7 hours? Yes, it was a total of 3 hours of transportation and we spent a little over 4 hours actually exploring the temple grounds. We looked at some of the gardens, the stadium-like fountain, the main temple (of course), looked at some of their exhibitions and even ventured through a Pirates of the Caribbean-like boat ride. Though Akshardham is structured and resembles an American amusement park, it was actually one of the most beautiful and intricate places I have seen in my life. The outside/inside walls and ceiling alike were almost completely covered in detailed carvings. If the security guard hadn't asked me to get off of the floor, I could have probably spent hours just staring at the ceiling. We crossed the lotus garden over to the food court and had some samosas, some aloo vada, some ice cream...and then some more ice cream, it was all a blast (especially the ice cream part). The only unfortunate part of the day was that the security at this particular temple is extremely high and you are not allowed to take your cameras inside. Sorry guys, I couldn't get you a walking photo tour of Akshardham. However, google was more than happy to provide...see picture below! However, this made it an even more interesting experience because we weren't snapping pictures of every rock, leaf and wall. There is definitely something to be said for enjoying something simply for what it is in that moment. Picture or no picture, the temple was incredible and definitely worth the trek all the way out to the boonies.

Alright, gonna go pack now. My program is taking a excursion to Udaipur tomorrow to get some hands-on experience with the health system in India. I'll be gone for a week and won't be taking my computer (sorry!) but I'll make sure to write as soon as I get back.              
- Love, Eli

P.S. The song I recommend today is "Ojala" by Silvio Rodriguez. It's just as much of an experience as Akshardham was.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


Let's talk about Delhi, pronounced dill - ee in Hindi ( दिल्ली ). It's important that you know a little about this city before I go any further with this blog. I know it's been almost a month since my arrival but there are so many aspects of life in Delhi that continue to shock me day to day, I will attempt to convey a bit of the perplexing hub that is Delhi. First off it is important to note that New Delhi is India's capital and as such I had a certain set of expectations with regards to what I would find. So, you know, it's the capital so it should be a little like Washington D.C., right? Negative. I have found that New Delhi does resemble D.C. - all the politicians hang out in a neighborhood very similar to the mall, but that's about it. After a 23 hour layover in Amsterdam and too many stroopwaffles later, I arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at 11pm and found myself in frighteningly humid 90+ weather. The amount of honking coming from what at the time seemed like every car on the road was deafening and it soon became clear that the dashed lines designating car lanes are optional here, merely a friendly suggestion. You'll find auto rickshaws (India's inexpensive alternative to cabs) weaving in and out of traffic and racing past in between lanes. But that's not all that you'll find on the roads. One or two...or just about a million cows have been known to cross the road at a moment's notice; some have owners, some do not but they probably have more rights than pedestrians do here. Along those lines, it is certainly important to note that Delhi is not a walking city in the least and for several reasons: sidewalks are practically non-existent here; Delhi is GIANT; and it's extremely hot, making it almost unbearable. 

Whether by foot, auto rickshaw, or metro (which is actually quite clean and impressive here), however, exploring Delhi is certainly a lot of fun. There is an overwhelming amount of things to see and do here in Delhi, whether it's temples, markets, and even gardens, you'll get your share of sights here. Not only are they numerous, but they are beautiful. The architecture and the soul found at each and every one of these places is astounding, I definitely fear not having the time to explore the city enough. But perhaps what shocked me most about Delhi was the stark contrast between the beauty and soul of Delhi and the extreme poverty that plagues a significant part of India's population. I was under the impression that because I was informed and had a notion of these problems that there was no reason for me to be surprised by what I would encounter upon my arrival. Wrong again. Discussing poverty and hunger with your professor and peers in a classroom or reading about it in a textbook or newspaper doesn't come close to the feeling you get when you see it up close, when it's in your face and a child's frail hand taps you and you look up into their pleading eyes. It's something you can't really prepare for, you just have to live it. And after almost a month of living in this environment, as that heart-wrenching feeling lurks in your chests and ferments over some time, I can say it feels even more strange to see this scene play over and over again and become a part of the environment you live in for an extended period of time. And that is why Delhi confuses me so much, you can encounter many scenes like this and yet when you interact with people you find that there's so much color, life and happiness. Delhi's just one extensive, bustling contradiction and I can't say I was able to do the city justice in this one post, but hopefully you will get a better sense of it as I write and post more pictures throughout the semester. Good night everyone! 
- Eli

P.S. On a random side note, I  was listening to "Ja Sei Namorar" and "Boa Sorte" while writing this post. You can find them both on this playlist. They are both fun Brazilian songs that my awesome Brazilian host mom introduced me to, I love them both and recommend that you all listen for a bit.

Monday, 19 September 2011


No time to write right now, but you can all listen to this song from "Mere Brother Ki Dulhan," the first Bollywood film I saw in theaters!!

I'm in India!

Namaste friends, family, and all! For those of you who don't know, I am studying abroad in India this semester on an SIT Health and Human Rights program and it is proving to be quite an interesting (and amazing) experience! Earlier this summer I told myself that I would blog through my entire experience here, every thought, every walk, every picture. The idea was that it would all be documented in this space. It is now almost a month into the semester, however, and I have only yet begun my blogging. This is me. Sometimes I will blog every other day, not blog for an entire 3 weeks, or several posts every single day for a month. My itinerary is susceptible to change at any moment so I don't exactly know that I can set aside a specific slot of time for blogging everyday. However, I will try to keep you guys updated on my time and travels here in India as much as possible. Hopefully, if all goes as planned, you will soon see some more writing as well as pictures and some Bollywood music videos. Love and miss you all!  - Eli