We had the brunch with the Schreiber’s and George and Shobha Samuel. It's one of those big buffets with lots and lots of food. Then we headed off to the city. It’s very interesting to talk to the George and Shobha and their lives and their becoming Christians.
In his home city of Agra, a Hindu friend found a copy of UCG’s Good News magazine. Because it didn't interest him, he passed it on to George. George read through it and was fascinated. He sent off for a subscription and requested other literature. He continued to study and then a visit by a minister of the United Church of God. He was eventually baptized. George’s wife Shobha followed.
They now hold a weekly church meeting at their home for about a dozen to twenty people. Often the service is a study of Beyond Today magazine articles Agra is where the Feast of Tabernacles for this part of India is held (Mizoram is the other place). Agra is also the site of the Taj Mahal.
We all headed for town. New Delhi is modern, the streets wide and clean. It’s to total opposite of Old Delhi that we visited next. In New Delhi we visited the main government buildings which looked like…big government buildings. Most go back to the time of the British administration of India. I still marvel how the British could show up in India and decided to govern it. And build an infrastructure a legacy of culture that continues until today. Cricket is widely played and the population likes it obviously. After seeing the governmental buildings we head off to the really interesting part—old Delhi.
Here the population density increases exponentially, the streets narrow, the tooting of car horns now is a cacophony of sound that has some meaning to the drivers.
All type of transportation type is observed--from trucks to rickshaws. I have only seen rickshaws in movies. Now, we're going to be in one pulled through town by a human being on a bike.
We parked our vehicles at Jama Masjid Mosque. The mosque was inaugurated by an Imam Bukhari, a mullah from Bukhara, Uzbekistan, on 23 July 1656, on the invitation from Shah Jahan. About 25,000 people can pray in the courtyard at a time and it is sometimes regarded as India's largest mosque. The mosque is commonly called "Jama" which means Friday. I have visited mosques in Uzbekistan when I was a student at Ambassador College in 1967 when the U.S.S.R was celebrating its 50th anniversary of the October Revolution and we were informed about the connection to India.
While this area is crowded with genuine real Indian life, it is also a place that tourists come to see. It appears to be safe. The Schreibers want us to experience a rickshaw ride. It’s a buggy pulled by a bicycle. So, we did. There is a rickshaw stand with several competing “drivers” wanting our business. The price was very reasonable….a little over $3.00. Our driver was fairly young and was very communicative and explaining things along the way as he biked the two of us. He said that photos were OK. I felt sorry for an elderly driver with a long white beard. I really wondered how he could drive us through traffic. I gave him a tip…..just because I felt sorry for him.
There was LOTS to photograph – from strangled traffic to unfortunate destitute street people living out their miserable days laying on the concrete medians. So, here we are in the open in congested traffic. Truly an experience. My many photos of this event are posted.
Then, it’s time to part and have our van driver take us to the airport for our flight first to Bombay (Mumbai) and then on to Toronto and Cincinnati.
Our driver takes us out of Old Delhi and drives us to the Delhi megaport. Security is tight and you cannot even enter the airport unless you have your passport handy along with evidence of an upcoming flight with our passport names. We had earlier made some changes and the flight that we were to take first to Bombay did not have our names on the changed flight. He would not let us in. In fact, the AIRLINE was not listed, just the code-share for Air Canada flight number was listed. What the actual Indian carrier was was unknown. It could be Jet Airways, Air India or yet another one.
The guard did let us into an area where we could check that. We first guessed Jet Airways. We were wrong. Then Air India. We were right. We then got a printout on newsprint paper that was good enought to be let into the lobby for the flight. Things then started going right. We checked our bags all the way through to Cincinnati and got all our boarding passes.
As we went through security a military officer checked me over and then with a big grin exclaimed: "I LIKE TRUMP!"
Outside there is a lot celebratory activity for the Hindu festival of lights called Diwali or Dipavali. It is one of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.” During the celebration, temples, homes, shops and office buildings are brightly illuminated. We saw this at the airport and in some of the neighborhoods we visited. Pretty yellow and red decoration festoon all the nine entrances to terminal three of Delhi Airport.
The preparations, and rituals, for the festival typically last five days, with the climax occurring on the third day coinciding with the darkest night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, the festival generally falls between mid-October and mid-November.
We got down to Bombay in an hour and a half and changed planes for our Air Canada 16 hour flight to Toronto. The plane was only a third full and we thankfully had lots of room. We also had a 110 volt AC outlet at our seat. I was able to work and sleep and make good use of the time. There was not a single movie worth watching. Left at 11:30 pm and flew all through the night over Tehran, Iran, Caspian Sea, Ukriane, Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland and finally into Toronto arriving about 5:45 am Wednesday.