Going to India

Globalization in India — January 2010

January 14th: Taj Adventures



Today was the day—the Taj Mahal! One of the seven wonders of the world.

Before that, we had to leave Delhi to get to Agra—over four hours away. Not bad, right? Well… the roads are a bit bumpy here. Okay, very bumpy. And the driver honked the bus’ really loud horn every time he passed someone!

Still, we made it eventually and checked into our new hotel. Lunch was delicious. They have a mix of Western and Indian foods here so we had ice cream for dessert.

Right after lunch it was time to Taj it up!

We rode the bus over and passed a bunch of walking salespeople pushing souvenirs, closer and closer to our destination. Then we had to go through security and walk through the pretty red sandstone gate. After a bit of history from our guide, there it was.

It was gorgeous, better than the pictures might lead you to believe. We got to go inside it too, but pictures are forbidden in there. In the center is the tomb for Shah Jahan’s wife. He was the 5th in a line of Mughal rulers who conquered India around the 14th century (date might be off a bit). His wife had FOURTEEN kids! Two miscarriages too.  Not surprisingly, she died in childbirth. She was married at 19 and died at 32. Shah must have loved her a lot, he spent 22 years working on the Taj Mahal!

One weird thing kept happening today though. Indians approached us many times to take a photo with us. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps they have never seen foreigners before. It was strange though; some of them didn’t even ask they just walked up and told us to smile for a picture. A whole group of guys each wanted an individual shot of them shaking hands with Laura. A line formed. It was a bit ridiculous.

After the Taj our guide took us to a really expensive marble store. The items were gorgeous and we got to see how some were made, but no one could really afford anything. I asked them what the most expensive thing was and it was an intricate designed table with imported semi-precious stones for $60,000!

Then we had dinner and were off to bed. We’re leaving at 8 am tomorrow to go to Jaipur. Hooray!

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Agra/Jaipur

Friday January 15, 2010

 We took off from Agra this morning and went about 40 km outside of the city to see Fort Sikra, which was a fort built by the emperor Akbar during his reign in India. It was interesting to get a tour and hear more facts about his reign, the fort he built, and the people during this time period. Next we traveled about 5 hours to Jaipur. It was interesting to be able to observe rural India on our journey between cities. It is not uncommon to see homes, that look more like a hut, made of palm fronds and dirt as well as women walking with huge jugs of water on their heads. After arriving in Jaipur we checked into our hotel and had a late lunch. My first impression of Jaipur was that it seemed to be the most organized of any of the cities we have visited. Next, we went to the city palace museum. This gave a vast overview of much of the history of this part of India including its rulers and artifacts from many time periods. One interesting item was the clothing of an emperor who was 7 feet tall and 800 pounds! … It seemed like our entire group could fit into his shirt!! Also present was the largest single object made of pure silver in the world (even shown in guiness book of world records!) Another pleasant surprise at this location was the monkeys that were climbing in the trees and walking on the tops of the buildings.  Kayla riday January 15, 2010 We took off from Agra this morning and went about 40 km outside of the city to see Fort Sikra, which was a fort built by the emperor Akbar during his reign in India. It was interesting to get a tour and hear more facts about his reign, the fort he built, and the people during this time period. Next we traveled about 5 hours to Jaipur. It was interesting to be able to observe rural India on our journey between cities. It is not uncommon to see homes, that look more like a hut, made of palm fronds and dirt as well as women walking with huge jugs of water on their heads. After arriving in Jaipur we checked into our hotel and had a late lunch. My first impression of Jaipur was that it seemed to be the most organized of any of the cities we have visited. Next, we went to the city palace museum. This gave a vast overview of much of the history of this part of India including its rulers and artifacts from many time periods. One interesting item was the clothing of an emperor who was 7 feet tall and 800 pounds! … It seemed like our entire group could fit into his shirt!! Also present was the largest single object made of pure silver in the world (even shown in guiness book of world records!) Another pleasant surprise at this location was the monkeys that were climbing in the trees and walking on the tops of the buildings. 

 Kayla

January 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Back to Delhi

Jan. 16

Hello!  This morning we first visited Jantar Mantar-an observatory that has a variety of architectural astronomical instruments.  We even saw the largest sundial in the world.  Next we went to Amber Fort.  As promised, we were able to ride elephants up the mountainside!!  It was so fun!

Next we headed back on the bus for our drive to Delhi.  It took around seven hours and was longer than expected due to a traffic jam India style.  We were in the middle of nowhere, but cars were lined up and not moving for miles.  We are now safely back to Delhi and the cold temperatures.

January 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chennai to Delhi

Sorry, this is a few day late!

Monday, January 11th

Today we flew from Chennai to New Delhi. I think we were all pretty sad to say goodbye to Hotel Breeze but were also looking forward to seeing more of India. We got to have a much appreciated sleep-in and then made the 45 minute or so journey to the airport. After going through security as usual, we had to wait for a bit to board, so some of us passed the time by playing a game or reading our books. Our three hour flight went smoothly and all of our luggage made it, which is always a plus! We were met by a new bus and tour guide who took us to our hotel. We got settled in our rooms and then headed down to the hotel lobby for our first North Indian meal. After dinner, we went to a nearby mall to see our first Bollywood film, called “3 Idiots”. We’d heard lots of good things about it from the students we’d met during our time here. Even though we could only understand the few English phrases they slipped in occasionally, I think most of us enjoyed the movie – or found that it was a good time for a quick nap…! There was definitely more singing and dancing than you see in movies in the US. I think we’ll be singing, “All is well!”, a phrase from one of the main songs in the movie, for the rest of the trip…

– Megan

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A wonderful saturday and an unforgettable dinner!

Saturday January 9, 2010

         **Sorry this is quite late…we have been having a lot of difficulties connecting with the internet

                Today (a few days ago) we had the great privilege of sleeping in J Our first order of business was lunch at Sparky’s. Much to our delight Sparky’s was American cuisine and we were able to order things such as hamburgers, barbeque chicken, fries, spaghetti, and lasagna. This was a nice reminder of home and a good break from the regular curry and rice we have become accustomed too. Inside the restaurant the servers were wearing baseball-like shirts and the walls had license plates from nearly all of the states from the U.S.

                We ate our meal with Freddy who works with the YWAM (Youth With a Mission) branch in Chennai. More specifically he works with the homeless children. There are at least 15 different missions YWAM is associated with in order to help children get an education and get off the streets. Sparky’s is just one of those places. One example of a way they witness to the children is hanging around the train station in Chennai in order to meet the ones who had jumped on trains and ended up there. They begin by simply offering them tea and chatting, followed by visiting them for a few more days until they ask “Why are you helping me?” Then Freddy will explain who he is, about Jesus, and offer the child a home. As long as the child abides by the rules of the house they are allowed to stay.

                After lunch we were able to visit the home/orphanage full of children. We were greeted with great hospitality, which we have found to be a theme of the people of Chennai. We were able to play with the kids. There was also a small explanation of the game cricket and a few tried it out. Our group split in half as well as the kids into older and younger groups. We performed a skit for them and sang a song. Then the older group taught us a song in Tamil, the local language. This was very difficult but they were patient and helpful. The younger children played games like duck duck goose, or ,as the Minnesotans like to refer to it as duck duck grey duck.

                Next we were given some time at an indoor mall and we got a taste at bargaining for prices, which is always interesting. After this we went to Rajan Eye Hospital to hear about the work of Dr. Rajan, who is a close friend of Dr. Julius who has been showing us and around and giving some of the lectures. We were amazed to hear of the outreach Dr. Rajan has. Anyone who cannot pay for his services he gives it for free, whether it is surgery or a pair of glasses. It was inspiring to hear of his work and his hope despite his huge task at hand in trying to reach the large amounts of curable blind people in India.

                At dinner this evening, we had a special treat. As usual, two men were singing and playing piano during our meal. We have made great friends with them throughout this trip since we have been eating our dinners in the hotel each night. However, tonight there was also a dancer. At first he had his back to us and some questioned, “Is this the singer’s son?”, (by us I mean me). Much to my dismay, it turns out…..NO, it was a MIDGIT! It was the smallest man anyone of us had ever seen! He was for sure less than four feet tall. He had a lot of fun with us, but the best part came when Brian went up to dance with him. (Brian is 6’3’ ish) It turned into a dance-off and had our whole table rolling with laughter and many of us in tears! It turned into quite an eventful dinner! I will try to attach a video of the dance off.

Kayla

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We are in Delhi

The Bethel Team left Chennai on Monday for Delhi. We arrived and checked into the hotel to find the server was down and that we could not blogs. I, Harley, am writing this on a computer I borrowed for a few seconds.

All are well. That is good news!

We are enjoying Delhi. Very different than Chennai, but I will let students tell you all about that. We move to a different hotel in a day and hope to be back on Wifi.

Look forward to more posts with much more detail.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Day On the Town

Today was a day much different than any of the others so far. We began our day by going to church with Dr. Julius and his family, where we preformed two songs for the congregation. The church was incredibly beautiful and right outside the church was an equally beautiful garden. After church we split up into groups with various college students in the area. For the rest of the day, we hung out with the students and they showed us a few things they enjoy doing in their free time. Everyone’s day looked quite different. Some people went to malls, others went bowling, but most everyone went to the beach. The beach is a place were everyone goes to hang out. What’s interesting about this beach, however, is that you can’t actually swim in the water because of sharks. After visiting the beach, my group, went out to eat for lunch at a restaurant called MASH, which had American style food with an Indian twist. It was very delicious. After eating lunch, we headed over to the other side of town in what is called an auto. I was very excited because this was my first auto ride of the trip. Finally, we ended our afternoon with an ice cream cone at Frosty-Inn. In the evening, we got the privilege of going to watch the final game of the Chennai Open. I didn’t know much about the rules of tennis before this, but I learned a lot while watching and it was very interesting and exciting. We got back to the hotel pretty late, so many people just headed straight to bed without any dinner. Dinner at the hotel is pretty fun though. Every night there’s live music and on the weekends there is a magician who can make an egg disappear in mid air. My personal favorite part of dinner, however, is the “American meal” they make especially for us every night. Tonight it was vegetarian spaghetti, which was very delicious. Overall, it was a very exciting day, but also very exhausting. Tomorrow we will hop on a plane and head to Delhi to begin a whole new set of adventures!

January 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A real morning off! We are not leaving for anything today until 11:15. Time to catch up with sleeping, reading, journaling, sleeping, chatting, sleeping, etc.

This has been a full week full of sights, sounds, and smells that are all brand new. India is a fascinating place. We are getting introduced to a nice cross-section: slums, corporations, temples, dance concerts, shopping, hospitals, nursing homes, and much more.

As the teacher (students have written all the posts except the first and this), I am amazed and gratified by the students. They, to the person, motivated, gifted, and compassionate. I am blessed to be the leader. They overcome shyness or cultural confusion to really try to get to know the people they have met. I have included a few photos so you can see them in action.

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another Busy Day!

This morning we experienced our first taste of rain in India; as we sat outside on the veranda for devotions we noticed the first sprinkles start to come down. The weather did not put a damper on our day, however, as we busily moved from place to place all day!

First we had the opportunity to listen to a lecture from Prof. Dr. K. Ratjaratnam at the Lutheran Theological Seminary. He is a well-known Lutheran Christian leader in India and a professor of Economics. Dr. Julius has been joining us on many of our outings, and was actually a student of Dr. Ratjaratnam. Needless to say, Julius had nothing but good things to say about our guest speaker. The professor talked to us about the history of India and how the economics of the country have changed over time, keeping our class theme of globalization in mind.

Next we headed to a Home for the Aged, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. They are a Catholic organization with several branches in various countries. We met with a Sister there who told us about the history of the charity. They work to provide a home and care for the destitute elderly. They do not discriminate against religion or caste, and welcome as many elderly in need as they can facilitate. We were able to tour the grounds, which were impressive, well-kept, and peaceful. We had our lunch there and took some time to relax and visit.

After lunch we headed to Spencer Plaza to do some shopping. The city of Chennai offers plenty of opportunities for spending money, but this mall was a nice way to hit several shops all at once. Many of us made souvenir handicraft purchases for family and friends. It was an impressive mall, bustling with activity.

We headed back out to the rainy streets to get back in our vans where we were shuttled to the Rajan Eye Hospital. This facility is well-known for providing high-quality eye care to both the rich and poor. We met with a surgeon there and he gave a short presentation. Dr. Julius again accompanied us, as he has connections with the doctors at this hospital. The plight of the blind is a largely curable issue in India, and one that both Julius and the doctor we met with have a passion for.

After visiting the hospital we headed back to the hotel briefly before leaving again to experience an Indian cultural event. We accidentally ended up at the wrong venue, but after redirecting ourselves we ended up at the Mylore Fine Arts Club. We were able to watch an elaborate and impressive performance of a Bharatnatyam dance. Two singers and two musicians provided the accompaniment for a solo dancer. She danced several pieces depicting a variety of stories.

By the time we left the performance, we were all ready to relax and have dinner at the hotel. It was a busy day, but the promise of sleeping in tomorrow awaits!

— Kristen

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Business Escapades

Today was a busy day for us.  We started our day with our devos then headed to The Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  We met with R. Subramanian, Secretary General, who introduced two speakers to us.  The first speaker spoke about agriculture in India and the second spit out all kinds of statistics on India and how India has become more of a global force.  As a business major I found most of it quite interesting.

After a quick lunch at a vegetarian restaurant we split off into four groups.  My group was with Rachel and Laura.  We went to an asset management firm, Sundaram BNP Paribnas Mutual.  The three of us had the opportunity to meet with T.P. Raman, Managing Director.  He informed us about what they did and how the began.  Collectively speaking, the firm has over 2.5 million investors with 62 locations.  

Some things I really took away from this meeting was how their challenge in India was getting Indians to invest in a mutual fund rather than hold a savings account.  In the States its quite common to have a mutual fund of some kind but over here its a fairly new concept.  It was also interesting to find out that the language used is English and the currency is the US dollar; everything is written in English and all monetary currency is converted to the dollar.  When we asked T. P. about his view on globalization and how it’s changed India he replied, “I don’t belive globalization exits.  It is already in place.  Integration is what is going on.”  He believed that globalization has already taken place and that integration and cooperation needed to occur to advance India.

Overall I left that meeting with a slightly different outlook on India and business in India.  I looked at investing differently and how choosing India to base investments in is a better idea than previously thought.  I also left with a different view on globalization.  I am very grateful to those who gave of their time to meet with us and share with us.

– Sarah

January 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment