Trip to India


Christmas with the Family


What to Do??? But of course…

Christmas Trip to India with the Family


Christmas morning, December 25, 2006


The opportunity for a trip to India came up unexpectedly. My karma. I don’t have very many regrets in my life, but missing the wedding in New Delhi of a young colleague at American Airlines was certainly one of them. A trip to India was due, but no one expected it any time soon.


Fast forward about a dozen years.


Sheoraj Tyagi is a neighbor and friend of my friend and fellow St. John’s alumnus Al Aronson, who brought him to an event of the Boston Chapter of the Alumni Association. The event was a summer party at our house. Thoughtful and engaging, Sheoraj fit in well with the group. I found myself drawn into conversation with him, and hearing that he would be returning to New Delhi in the fall, I told him the story of the missed wedding. His response was: “Then you are invited to come to my granddaughter’s wedding in December!” He meant it. That’s the kind of warm and open person Sheoraj is.


Of course we said yes.


Then we realized there was a problem. With the wedding in India on the 23rd, there was no way we could get back to the US to spend Christmas with the family. And there was no way I could miss an Indian wedding twice! What to do? The solution, of course, was typical of the compromises Dan and I make. When in doubt—do everything! Christmas trip to India with the family it would be.



The Wedding


Even the invitation was beautiful (pictures don’t show its luster). As for the wedding… The magnificent three-day wedding deserves a page of its own.


Click here to see pictures of the wedding


The Places

We visited Jaipur (where the wedding took place), Agra, and New Delhi. We didn’t spend enough time anywhere, and certainly didn’t go to enough places. I even have to admit we didn’t take enough pictures. (And I’m the one who had to edit all 450 of them down to a manageable number for this Web site!) See more about these places here.


Click here to see pictures of Jaipur, Agra, and New Delhi


Not just a place; a state of mind




I just love India. It is a feast for the senses. I know I don’t see half of what’s going on in India, even if it’s right in front of my nose. There’s simply too much to absorb. And I know I don’t understand half of what I see. It’s simply too different from anything I’m used to. So in India, I am different, too. I am much more relaxed, more open. I exist in the Now for whole minutes and hours and even days on end. Whatever is, is fine with me. I am completely happy. I am in an ongoing altered state of consciousness. Bliss.


The following is excerpted from an online chat with Adam:

12:44 PM me: I'm having trouble writing some of what I want to say. In particular, I'm curious whether I'm the only one that felt that India was so different that my consciousness was different when I was there. I don't know the words (I almost wrote "worlds") to use to convey the texture and density and consciousness and astonishment of it...

12:46 PM Adam: I don't think you're the only person who felt that way, but other than noting it, you may have to give up on conveying it. The feel of a place is a very hard thing to capture.

The people

This happened more than once: We visited a location (a temple or the shrine to Gandhi) that is toured more by Indian people than by Westerners. We were almost the only pale faces present. So someone shyly comes up to us to say hello and welcome. The person speaks no English. We speak no Hindi. Another person in their party has a few words of English, and somehow the meaning is conveyed. We all say where we are from. We all smile warmly and wish each other well. We, the guests, have been well and truly welcomed.


The traffic

Traffic in India is not like that in the US. Our first reaction was fear of immediate and violent death. This was understandable, but unwarranted. Rarely are lines painted on the street, and everyone shares. A road that you would think of as two lanes wide (one each way) can easily be made to be three or four lanes or more with the proper use of the horn. The horn is not an expression of anger; rather, it is a normal method of asserting presence (“Hey, that’s me here, on your left!”). Bumper stickers urge fellow drivers: “Please Honk”.



Entering Jaipur’s Old City; a good photo of traffic from the Internet


Despite huge volumes of traffic, there is little evidence of road rage. People are tolerant of one another. Everyone yields a little and life goes on. After a while even the American passengers begin to see all this as normal, even enjoyable. After a while, even driving on the left-hand side of the road feels fine.


By "traffic", by the way, what I mean is: an impossibly large number of cars, almost never with only one passenger; camels pulling carts filled with logs; highly decorated trucks overbulging with huge sacks of cotton; busses loaded all over with people, including the tops and hanging out the doors (occasionally unloading passengers in the middle of the street without fully stopping); three-wheeled taxis known as “rickshaws” if run by bicycle or “autorickshaws” if run by motorcycle; bicycles; painted elephants carrying workers or tourists (elephants seemed to be mostly passenger vehicles); donkeys, also carrying loads; oxcarts; horseback riders; motorcycles carrying families of four; women walking with waterjugs on their heads; cows doing whatever they please whenever and wherever they please; and many more things, sometimes incomprehensible. And one eight-passenger vehicle containing five perpetually astonished Americans and their non-English-speaking driver.



Single-occupancy vehicles and

Multiple-species high-occupancy vehicle


Single-species Star-Wars-outfitted high-occupancy vehicle


Vehicle utilizing some kind of Indian Glue Magic


The roadside

The side of the road is an endless source of wonder. So much of life takes place right by the road in India that “What is going on over there?” is a fair question frequently asked. But it’s usually not an answerable one. It’s not that nothing is what it seems. It’s more that things seem to waiver between two or three or four possibilities and our American eyes can’t tell which. Or maybe all the possibilities are true. Or maybe what’s happening is something we can’t even imagine. We watch, dumbfounded.



Pastoral scenes







Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu (Going up? Falling down? Or always been this way, always will?)




Urban cattle


Is someone living in the booth?



Sometimes they’re obvious, but sometimes it takes a moment to put 2+2 together.



Family with guide in front of pharmacy & Kinko’s of sorts



Pot shop & temple offering shop



Laundromat & bicycle repair shop


Tire shop, maybe, with grocery store in background



In Conclusion

This is not the conclusion. Let’s face it:  We have to go back to India.