Ok, so now that our future is settled for the moment, I thought I'd return to the India and Nepal Edition. But since I've already been back for over a month, I thought that India would best be summed up rather than expounded upon. Although India was a great experience and I hope to spend more time there, Nepal was much more personal and engaging. In many ways, India reminded me of a louder, busier, more western Kabul. India feels like an old country working to enter the 21st century; there is a campaign to be a "modern" city by the Commonwealth games in 2010, they have a lot of work to do.
In India, we visited Delhi and Jaipur. Delhi is a very large, very bustling city with thousands of sights, millions of people, and a rich and varied past. As a history lover, it was interesting to see (or drive by, we didn't have much chance to sight see) monuments of British Imperialism next to Islamic minarets and Hindu temples. There are tombs and temples that are hundreds, sometimes thousands of years old. Like Afghanistan, Delhi and most of India has been a part of several different empires throughout its history. In fact, Delhi was once ruled by Afghans and seems to have more intact tombs, mosques and palaces from the Afghan period than Afghanistan has.
When I pictured India before visiting, Jaipur is what I imagined. Jaipur's history includes tales of the maharajas and maharanis. The area has an exotic feel to it. Elephants and camels pull carts and men wear oversized red turbans. There are beautiful palaces and forts throughout the city, some still in use, some converted into hotels. And the whole city is painted a rusty pink, hence the nickname "The Pink City."
There were a few highlights from my time in India. One was getting to drink great coffee at a real coffee bar. One of them was eating a fancy dinner with the ladies. Another was swimming in the hotel swimming pool. But on a more serious note, we were able to visit Gandhi's Memorial, the platform on which he was cremated, on the Indian holiday celebrating his birth and life. I have a tremendous amount of admiration and respect for Gandhi. His motto, "Be the change you wish to see in the world," has become one of Joey and my life goals (and one of the reasons we move to places like Kabul!). It was very inspiring to see people from all over the world and of all different religions honoring this man who promoted peace, love, and positive change. It reminds me that regardless of creed or personal belief, there are certain things that we should all be committed to working towards together.