Friday, January 1, 2010

Celebrating the New Year: Delhi Style!

Happy New Years! We were lucky enough to spend the holiday in Delhi. We spent the morning of New Year's Eve attending a lecture at Jamia Milia Islamia University in the Muslim quarter of the city. Our speaker was Professor Akhtarul Wasey, a professor of Islamic Studies. He gave us an enlightening and interesting lecture on Muslims in India as they compose the largest minority group in the country. His lecture provided an excellent glimpse into the status of minorities in the Indian culture and it showed how truly vibrant and encompassing the Indian democratic culture is.

After the lecture, we visited the Niuzammudin tomb, which is the second most holy Sufi site in India. It was an amazing experience and one of the highlights of the trip so far. We were greeted by one of the high mystics, who gave us a personal tour and blessed us. It was wonderful to observe such a rich cultural site. The architecture was amazing, but above all, it was touching to take part in such an important religious and cultural tradition.

At the tomb, we also experienced the "fishbowl syndrome." Since we've arrived in India, everywhere we go people have stared at us. Whether we are driving in a cab, walking in a market or visiting the Presidential Palace, people have stared. It's such a weird feeling! At the tomb, one family actually approached us and asked to take a picture with their family. They even asked Katie to hold their son! It's been so amusing.

We spent the afternoon shopping at the Dehli Haat market. It was a fantastic experience. Not only did we get some fabulous purchases at awesome prices (earrings for 20 RS!), we got to experience traditional cultural performances. We saw a fire breather! There was also traditional dancers and musical performances. I was even followed around by a dancing dragon :)

At night, we went to Kahn market for dinner and to ring in the New Year. We ended up in an American-theme restaurant by accident, but the food was incredible because of the Indian spin that was added to traditional American cuisine. Then we went to Cafe Oz to dance in the New Year. They gave us colorful masks and noise makers. We were able to meet some local Indians and they helped us perfect our Bollywood dances moves! The start of 2010 was incredible and a good omen for the year and decade to come!

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