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Our stay in New Delhi lasted about 5 days. There we met many Bahá'í friends with whom we had numerous discussions over "a cup of tchai". We had plenty of opportunities to try our hand at "haggling" in the city markets –only a taste of what was to become a normal occurrence for the remainder of our stay in India. We were easy pickings for any Indian who was trying to scam foreigners. A market vendor would take advantage or our "white" skin by asking us a price which was 5 to 6 times higher than they would sell to a local for. Later we learned that NRI (Non Resident Indians: a status for Indians born in India but who live abroad more than 6 months a year often having double citizenship) also get scammed, but to what extent we do not know.
 
In North America one can often hear the slogan "Say NO to DRUGS ! " aimed at the younger generation in hopes that they will make the right choices. Throughout the heart of the city in Delhi, we would spot "SAY NO TO PLASTIC" signs. This was always amusing. We learned that one of the major contributions to the big city air pollution problems in India comes from the burning of their garbage in the street. Another major contribution to the big city pollution comes from the streets which are packed with cars, auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, motor bikes, mopeds, bicycles and horse drawn carts making it challenging to breathe and very noisy as everyone drives by ear or honking their horn. Masses of people fill in the gaps of space not occupied by vehicles. Pedestrian crossings are rare to find, and when you do locate one, it often doesn't work; the light never turns green for the pedestrian. One has to be brave and take their life into their own hands in order to cross traffic spontaneously at the first available "gap". Because they drive on the left, one needs to remember to look opposite of what you would in North America and mainland Europe or else you could be in for an unpleasant surprise. We hear that buses have frequently hit pedestrians in the past.
 
Periodically one can spot a "holy" cow meandering through the streets. The cows seem to have the right of way over everything including trucks and buses. In Hinduism they are sacred and are highly valued as the source of food providing milk, curds, ghee butter and protected as a symbol of life and abundance. In earlier centuries it was said that killing a cow was equivalent to killing a high-caste priest. When Krishna, the avatar of the Supreme God (Vishnu for the Hindus) took birth on earth, of all professions He could have chosen, He chose to be a cow shepherd, giving a tune to the importance of taking care of these cute milk givers. Considering all of this, it appears paradoxical to see the "holy" cows wandering through the streets, sifting through garbage longing to find something nutritious to eat, hoping that they won't die from eating too many plastic bags... We have been told however, that the cows have owners and that they go home at night to eat a proper meal and that they also have another meal before heading out to meander the streets during the day. We have not yet seen any evidence of this happening.
 
The highlight of our stay in New Delhi was a visit to the Bahá'í House of Worship for the Asian continent otherwise known as the "Lotus Temple". It is one of the most visited places of India and certainly the most visited one in Delhi, with several tens of millions of people already having passed through it. The beautiful, symmetrical structure of architecture draws the attention of architects and engineers from all over the world. By some technical journals, the Lotus Temple was named the Taj Mahal of the 20th Century. The shape of the building appears similar to that of a nine petaled lotus, a flower which is an icon having several different meanings in Asian culture. You can have a look again at our pictures here before we (soon!) offer you the blog entry corresponding to them.
To help you practice your patience, as a bonus, we give you the privilege to watch our first video amateur...
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Tuesday, February 27, 2007
New Delhi Experience
 

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