As I write this, we are sitting in an internet cafe in Amritsar, spending our last few hours in India before we cross the border into Pakistan this afternoon. So just a very quick update on our last week in India.
We arrived in Delhi the day before Christmas Eve, and made our way to Andrew and Ruth’s uncle and aunt’s house. On the door was hanging a Christmas wreath. Hallelujah! The first indication of Christmas we had seen in India! That small welcoming sign was just the start of the warm welcome that we received from Uncle Gerry and Aunty Rita over the next few days. We went to midnight Mass at a small wee church that was packed to overflowing, and the enthusiastic carol singing almost took the roof off. Christmas day saw a host of friends arrive for a spectacular Christmas lunch (no turkey or ham, but the sorpotel and fish curry made up for that), more carol singing and exchange of presents. It was still a little difficult to really feel like it was Christmas so far away from home and family, but the peace and love of Christ was abounding and that’s what really matters.
In and around all the Christmas celebrations we also managed to see a little of Delhi city – and were pleasantly surprised by the Delhi transport system. After dire warnings from Bombay-ites we had prepared ourselves for the worst, but in fact Delhi, while still being busy, over-crowded and a little chaotic, seemed to have far less of a traffic problem than Bombay. And what we experienced of the metro was great: clean, on time and, at least at the times we were travelling, not too crowded – when it’s completed I’d take that over Bombay suburban trains any day.
A couple of days later we hit Agra, and the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately Andrew’s immune system had finally succumbed to one of the sicknesses we’ve all been fending off for too long, so as he’s already seen the Taj, Ruth and I left him to sleep and set off to see it on our own. Wow. Words really can’t describe the sheer grandeur of this imposing monument, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his favourite wife (wonder how the others felt…).
From Agra we bussed back to Delhi. Andrew and I bade farewell to Ruth, who’s staying on in Delhi for a couple of months, and caught a train to Amritsar. And here we are, about to say goodbye to India . While the past two months have been great, I am a little over the constant hassling by rickshaw drivers and touts. I’m really looking forward to Pakistan, where I’m hoping that the hassle factor will be a little less intrusive, but the food will still be as great. We cross the border in a couple of hours, and will spend a few days exploring the cultural capital of Lahore before making our way fairly rapidly westward to Quetta and then to the Iranian border. InshaAllah.
Belated Christmas and New Year greetings to you all.