Trips with Friends New and Old

Every day here presents new challenges and adventures. We’re generally greeted with at least one surprise or new experience each day.

This past week we headed out with our high school Propeller students for an Outbound Session – essentially a field trip. Because the program is very focused on orientating the students towards their careers, the trip consisted of an industrial site visit to the factory of a heavy engineering firm. To be honest I’m not sure how much the students got out of the visit, I think even the trainers were a bit disappointed, but we did get to see some very big machines (this one is so big that it is machine used to make machines that cut metal for cars):


And do some fun dress up: (we learned that safety is key in an industrial setting!)

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After a jam-packed two weeks of work, we finally took some time off and headed back to Delhi!

The last time we were in Delhi, we spent six days there and did hardly any sightseeing. When we tried to sight-see, we almost collapsed in the heat.

This time around, we were determined to do things right. We managed to book the hostel that last summer’s interns had recommended, called The Moustache. It was a great place, with a friendly man named Raj at the front desk to greet us and this incredible sign on the kitchen door:


While hanging out in the hostel we made a new friend, named Lissa. Originally from Ohio, she did the Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa and is headed for a Master’s in Global Studies at Yale in the fall. (the people you meet in India often sound like they should be writing memoirs). Now we’re certainly no experts on India, but Lissa had just landed 8 hours before we met her, so it was exciting to take her with us around the city, spewing all of our ‘expert’ advice about everything ranging from food, to travel, to the proper way to haggle with an auto rickshaw driver.

We got up early (relatively speaking), and got out of the hostel by 9 a.m., hoping to beat the midday heat, and headed out (in an expertly bargained-down auto) to Old Delhi in the north of the city.

We got dropped off at Chandni Chowk, one of the oldest markets in Delhi, originally built in the 17th century! We may have thought Delhi was narrow, loud, and full of people before, but we had no idea what was in store for us. At first we walked along the wide, busy main street and then, unsure how to find the “market” itself, we dove into a crammed alleyway. We then found ourselves winding through endless narrow streets crammed with bicycle rickshaws, shoppers, and stores selling books, saris, and wide varieties of food:

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After asking lots of directions, we magically didn’t get lost in the maze of alleys and made our way to Jama Masjid, the most famous mosque in Delhi and (according to Wikipedia) the largest mosque in India. Built in the 17th century, it has three giant domes made of red sandstone and white marble and a wide pavilion for worshippers. Clothed in some robes helpfully (read: forcefully) offered to us by the mosque’s gatekeepers, we ventured inside, doing our best to move across the red sandstone without burning the soles of our feet in the scorching sun. Despite the numerous tourists taking pictures, when we reached the front portion of the mosque, it felt peaceful A few men sat crouched over praying quietly, and a few others simply lay on their backs in the shade, enjoying a welcome respite from the heat.



After lots of walking and seeing, we made sure to finish the day’s adventures (at around 1 p.m. considering the heat) with some eating.

Chandni Chowk is known for having a lane called Parantha Wali Gali, where they sell an enormous variety of paranthas, basically fried dough stuffed with different fillings. Usually they’re just filled with potato or cauliflower, but these restaurants offer dozens of flavors, from mint to banana to radish to cashew. Suffice to say, they were delicious!


(cashew was my favorite)

No we’re back in Yamuna Nagar, gearing up for another jam packed week of work!

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About Leora

University of Pennsylvania (C'17) graduate. Former Nehru-Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in India. Education and youth development professional. Itinerant reader, writer, and movie junkie.