Cochin and Agra, India

 

India has been one of the most eye opening ports we have been to so far. I definitely plan to come back.

The first day I went to a women’s village.  When I read about this village before my trip, I didn’t expect anything that I experienced. We were welcomed by the whole community, presented with jasmine flowers and ate an authentic Indian mean served on banana leaves. The experienced all tied together when all of the village children came out to play with us. They were so intrigued by our lives and they always wanted to make sure that we were enjoying ourselves. After walking around the village we went to a weaving factory. This is where they make blankets and such for the community. After the factory some of us were dropped off at a welcome reception thrown for SAS students by one of the local colleges. We walked in and it was beautiful. It was right on the water with students dressed up in suits and saris. We started socializing with the students and hearing about their lives as college students in India. As we sit down to eat, some of the student-performers put on a wonderful show for us.  After leaving the reception, we headed back to the ship where we quickly all went to sleep getting sleep for day two of India!

I woke up early and had no plans in store. Everyone left for Delhi or Agra in the early morning and I didn’t leave for my trip until day three. So I headed to the Field Office and saw what trips were available. The only one was an Averdyric Center. I had no idea what this meant but I decided to do it! When we arrived at the center, it was not what I expected at all – it was a hospital. We were talking to the head doctor about how he doesn’t believe in western medicine. It was interesting because he was telling us to ask questions and that no matter what there would be no offence taken. So we were talking to him for about two hours discussing why he doesn’t ever plan to take westernized medicine.  He used the example of animals; animals get hurt all of the time and recover and heal all of the time – we forget we are animals. It was a different way of looking at everything. After the hospital, I ran into two of my friends who were supposed to leave in the early morning but their flights got cancelled, so we went out together.

Waking up at 4a.m. was difficult but well worth it after what I did the next three days. We arrived in Delhi around noon and toured around the city. We saw many Hindu and Baha’i temples, cows bustling around and children playing in the streets with no shoes on. It was a different environment but strangely safe. There was not one time in India where I felt threated, which isn’t what I expected from what we were told. After touring the city we headed to the train station to head to Agra (where the Taj Mahal is located). We got on the train and it was absolutely disgusting. It was torn up, trash everywhere, seats were broken, bullet holes in the windows and it smelt very badly. We dealt with it for six hours before arriving to a hotel where we quickly went to sleep again before an early wake up tomorrow again!

Day three we woke up at 4:30am so we could go see the Taj Mahal by sunrise. We left the hotel and headed over – we were 5 minutes away and were the first in line. When I walked in and saw the Taj Mahal through the entrance structure, I was blown away. It was absolutely beautiful and looked unreal. Every single picture looks photoshopped because of how beautiful is was.  After we left we headed to the Agra Fort. It was a very interesting place. The fort was not only huge around the outside, there were smaller forts designed on the inside – something that is very different from other forts. After that we went to the “Baby Taj”. This was an exact replicate of the Taj Mahal on a much smaller scale. It was the size of a normal house but had the same water channels and courtyard.  After lunch and more touring of the city, we headed back to the Taj Mahal by sunset. The color of the Taj changed because of the golden sun hitting on it. Literally it went from white to gold because of the sun, it was incredible. We then headed back to the train station and boarded a train back to Delhi and went to sleep around 1a.m.

The following morning I decided to check out of the trip with three friends. We went to a market where we bought woven baskets, scarves and Ali Baba pants. We took the metro around the city to find a few markets and we stayed at one called Delhi Hot. This market was amazing. It had streamers flying above it in all different colors and all of the street vendors had all colorful items it looked a little but like Disneyland. Except, in Disneyland you cant trade an item for an item. Let me explain. So I have been wearing the same pair of jeans throughout India. They are old and warn down so I officially decided to get rid of them. At the first market i bought a pair of pants, changed into them and were carrying around my jeans from Forever 21. So I saw this bowl that I really liked and after 20 minutes got him to trade me the bowl for my pants! From then on out every worker in the market wanted to trade with me. They wanted my t-shirt, sunglasses, and sunglasses case – anything I had they wanted it.  We then met up with the group and headed back to Cochin.

The last day in India came to fast, but we still had a big day planned. We woke up early and went to the Kerala backwaters. These waters are known in Cochin. We took a rickshaw there and he took up out on his personal boat around. We also met his fisherman friends and we held live crabs and fish. After floating down a river we went back and headed to Fort Cochin and Jew Town. This area of the city was full of markets. Each market was a little bit different, which was a nice change up from every other market we went to. My friend and I left the other people we were with and took a ferry to another island. There we spent the end of St. Patrick’s Day shoving our faces with American pizza at Pizza Hut! Our trip to India was ending and we were getting our bags checked to get back on the ship, and they told me that I wasn’t allowed to take Holi Days paint onto the ship. So, naturally my friend and I left the paint at the security counter and quickly ran on the ship to change clothes and ran outside the port gate and threw it around and got it everywhere! While we were doing this the rickshaw drivers were having fun with us, we let them throw it and smear it on our faces. Then we got back to the ship security and they all started laughing at us! It was a perfect ending to India.

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