The last three days of our trip proved to be relatively quiet compared to the hectic pace of those preceding them. The day after the conference was Holi, a very sacred “Holiday of Colors” for the Hindu folks to welcome in the Spring. Not only do they throw bright colored tempura paint powders, but water. Prudence and I stayed in late and when we finally decided to head over to the university campus To see who remained after the conference, We found that most of the activities had died down and only a few groups of rowdy young men remained, offering us no difficulties at all. At the guest house, we found many of our friends bearing evidence of the festival we had just missed. Two of our Indian friends said that we must not pass the day without being at least gently blessed and preceded two daub our foreheads in red and yellow tempura.
Prudence soon discovered another tour was afoot, but being afraid it would involve more walking, I declined and left Prudence to return to my room, once again playing Frogger racross the busy street. I took the day to rest, and hand write the majority of notes for my reports as well as packing. Prudence returned about eight that evening, estatic with her day's activities. They had apparently visited two Ashrams, where they were treated like royalty, and Prudence finally was gifted with a prayer shawl; a really lovely thing which was very sheer and had green, gold, and red threads running through the border. We completed our packing and went to bed.
The next morning about nine, we took our luggage down to the lobby, I paid the bill, and asked whether the cab we had ordered to Delhi was on schedule. It was no surprise to discover that a new person was on the desk and knew nothing about the cab to Delhi, but said that he could order it forthwith and did so scheduling it to arrive at 10. We had originally expected to share the cost of this cab up with two other people, but one of them discovered he had had to leave the day before, and the other simply fail to materialize. The cab showed up at ten thirty promptly. It was a minivan with comfortable seats and plenty of room for our luggage.
The trip back cost about $100 U.S. But proved to be worth it as it gave us a wonderful View of daily life in Northern India. It also took considerably less time and trouble than the train, as it dropped us directly at the hotel. We spent the rest of the day at the hotel unpacking and catching up on e-mail and report writing as this was our first re-connection with the Internet.
The next day we decided to go to the mall which offered us a free shuttle from the hotel. We were disappointed however to discover that this mall was actually a very high end European mall which offered exactly the same things at the same prices that we could find in San Francisco and would never consider buying. We went to the auto stand and caught a tic-tic back to our hotel. Then we decided to walk the neighborhood. Actually, there was a method to our madness, as I feared it that my luggage would be over 50 pounds, and I was looking for a small roller board that I could carry on to help alieviate the weight. A nice shopkeeper who spoke English directed us to a store called The Bizarre at the end of the block. This was where the regular folks shopped, and we had a great time picking out Sori fabric and some cute fabric combinations that were designed to be a skirt, tunic and a matching scarf. These were running about $6.00 apiece and contained about 6 yards of material. Oh, and I also found a carry on.
Happy, walked and shopped out, we began a walk back to the hotel. On the way Prudence discovered a pharmacy, and asked if it were possible to buy Valium. It turned out that they would sell no more than 30 pills of 5 mg diazepam for 50¢. Anything else needed a prescription. As these cost me $2.00 apiece in the states, and I the only things that alieve the leg cramps and seizures, I purchased what I could, and Prudence purchased more. It proved to be useful on the plane. Once we dropped our purchases at the hotel, Prudence made one more trip out to the hardware store next door, and ended up bringing back the sillest light. It was a white plastic shaped Om symbol with red and blue flashing LED lights.
The next morning at six the hotel called a cab to the Airport and we began a long trek home at the same hour of the morning in which we had originally started. We reach the Airport way too early, having been told that check-in was a long and arduous process. Nothing could have been further from the truth. We had ordered wheelchairs, which was fortunate as it would've had to walk about a quarter of a mile, but because we had packed prudently and well, we zoomed through the check-in process, and found ourselves in the waiting area 2 hours early. I must say that the New Delhi International Airport is one of the most modern and beautiful airports I have seen in my travels. It even has lounge chairs for people with long layovers to lay back and rest, which we did. The rest of the trip home was uneventful. Greg met us at the Airport, and we drove straight home, dropping prudence off on the way.
In retrospect, it's clear that most of the problems we had in India were a result of our own inability to prepare properly. In general we found that the people were warm, welcoming, helpful and generous. The conference was well planned, and I would not have missed it for twice the trials and tribulations. The next conference will be held in three years somewhere in Southern India I believe, and already I find myself looking forward to attending. I hope you have enjoyed the report and I leave you with a video of some of the entertainment that was provided by the indigenous populations of the world.
In her service and yours
R Watcher, National Interfaith Representative