Monday, June 7, 2010

Professor Marianne Artusio - Monday, May 24- Tuesday May 25

Here in India at last! It is wonderful to return, I feel so welcomed by everyone here. But, the heat is beyond description. Your eyeballs burn, your tongue dries out, your breath is a furnace and your clothes drip behind you as you walk. How do people live in this heat? I guess like all people in tropical climes – by resting during the scorching part of the day. But here in Delhi I see people, looking cool and undisturbed, walking on the street in crisp clothes, while I am melting.

Nick and I took a short, meandering stroll through Chandni Chowk, the bazaar of Old Delhi. It is a maze of tiny alleys, miniscule shops, darkened hallways, hanging electric wires and exotic-looking nook and crannies, ablaze with every color of the rainbow (and some even beyond the realm of physics), sparkling fabrics, glittering with sequins and gold thread. Add to this the aroma a street food, sizzling and spattering at every corner – samosas and other treats, lined up on oiled trays, so full you can knock them over as you pass. On the sidewalk, cooks wielding long-handled ladles stir and mix all manner of mysterious delights that smell of the East – spices I can’t identify that lure me to linger over the darkened pots of bubbling oil. Chandni Chowk is a hodge podge of many bazaars and we found ourselves in the fabric bazaar – endless alleys full of tiny, tiny shops, full to overflowing with cloth of every imaginable color and type. Shops no bigger than my closet at home, lined up to the ceiling with bolts of cloth, great swaths of it hanging on the doorposts and draped across the floor, with a crisp-looking shopkeeper cross-legged on the floor folding endless lengths of cloth. And the people! Everywhere there are women in saris, men carrying large bundles on their backs, children running and darting among the shops, shopkeepers crying out to us to see their shop, men driving bicycle rickshaws, people chatting in doorways and crowding the streets. Walking through Chandni Chowk is really battering your way through a crowd. My feet were stepped on a few times and I probably returned the favor many more. But the most astounding thing to me (and I have seen this in other places in India) is the electric wires. Below is a picture, but it can not convey the tangle and chaos of the electric wires that spew from every pole, making great looping arcs and spider web snarls.

We did not buy anything – the heat and chaos drained my urge to buy and we made our way back to the hotel by the modern subway. The subway is clean, fast, well-marked and the signs are in English and Hindi, so we could get around easily, except for one thing – security. To get on the subway we had to go through an electronic screening, have our bags go through the machine and then be frisked! I would hate to have to use the subway during rush hour. Back at the hotel we found security changes as well. Every hotel now has a security checkpoint we need to walk through. My heart sank when I saw the beautiful old cream and amber colored marble floor of our lovely hotel covered by a big, ugly security scanner, big enough for the largest suitcases and packages. But our students for the Agra trip have arrived, and we all went to our favorite restaurant in Connaught Place for a fine beginning for our adventure. They were mostly tired, but anxious to take in everything, so after a delicious tali meal we finished the day.

By Professor Marianne Artusio - Touro Law Summer Abroad Program in India 2010

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