If you read “Miamians Bound for India with a Solar Torch” (Feb. 16), you know MDC students Ximena Prugue and Stephany Torres flew to the subcontinent Wednesday on a mission to introduce cheap solar-powered lighting to Jhabua, a rural village in Madhya Pradesh, as part of their Giving The Green Light project. Prugue emailed us a few early observations and this photo from her hotel in Delhi before checking out and heading to Khandwa.
The moment we stepped out of the airport, the pollution in the air was overwhelming. We can feel our lungs putting effort when we breathe (and this might sound gross, but every time I blow my nose, the tissue is BLACK). What I do love about India is the array of colors. Everyone from wealthy to poor wears very bright colors, which contrasts the dirt all around. The only grass you will find in Delhi is in the tourist attractions, such as Lodhi Gardens and Humayun’s Tomb. I was surprised at the amount of Indians that visit their own tourist attractions, unlike back home. Many people who have grown up in Miami have yet to visit Vizcaya, but in India, it is very common to hang out in the Lodhi Gardens or even the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Not as many speak English as we expected. It’s almost the equivalent of the amount of people that speak Spanish in Miami, where the majority of Miami population can speak it, but not very well.
A couple fast facts we learned about India:
— Indians are very hospitable. Anywhere you go shopping, if you stay for longer than 5 minutes, they always offer you chai tea or coke.
— Coke is extremely ubiquitous here. Within the dirty and poor slums on the sides of the roads, you’ll always see several Coca-Cola and Pepsi ads.
–The juxtaposition of the slums and the wealthy areas in Delhi is like nothing I’ve seen before. While visiting the beautiful and breathtaking Lotus Temple, just looking over the valley, are miles of slums.
— Indian vendors are the biggest hustlers I’ve dealt with. I’ve never felt so convinced to buy something I don’t need nor have the money to buy. BUT [the] markets are all about bargaining. You’ve got to bargain or you’ll get ripped off.
— Statistically, Indian roads are the most dangerous in the world. If I had $10 for every near-death experience I’ve had for the past three days, I would have enough money for the next red eye home.
— Streets are not marked, only “sectors”, and many roads are one-way, which means that none of the taxis really know where they’re going and we have to make frequent stops to ask for directions.
I’m rushing now to leave the hotel, and we’re off the to Khandwa village. I’ll update as soon as I can! Oh, and cows are considered SACRED here. They roam the streets as they please but God FORBID you run over one!
Learn more about the Giving The Green Light Project HERE.