An update from Elizabeth, MBA and Master of Arts Management ’12, who traveled to India with the Cox Global Leadership Program:
10 am Wake-up call gets me in the shower first, then Rebekah. We’re starting to get our morning routine down to a science and can be ready for breakfast in 45 minutes or less. We make a few calls to rally the troops – only Eric is up (later he admits his chipper response was faked since he was still in bed).
11:30 am Breakfast is over (disappointing compared to Bangalore), and a group has formed. Some want sightseeing, some want shopping, some ambitious souls (myself included) are determined to do both.
12 pmish 12 of us pile into 3 cabs and head to Dilli Haat, the outdoor crafts bazaar. Turns out Sunday is a fabulous day to go driving in Delhi – no one is on the road and we cruise. Our eager driver and his buddies say they’ll wait for us and take us to our next stops.
1 pm Wander the Dilli Haat, looking for a deal. Meander with Blake to get the lay of the land, then snag Rebekah and Erika to help me bargain. Both are excellent in totally different ways, and are already carrying bags filled with gifts. Blake, Erika and I get 3 pashminas and 6 silk scarves for a total of about 5,000 rupees – $110 bucks. Quite pleased with ourselves. The group leaves with toys, scarves and pashminas, carved elephants, mobiles, jewelry, tunics, shoes, and paintings.
Film a gimmick ad just to stand in the air-conditioned plastic igloo and drink a cold Coke. We have to take a sip in front of the camera and then say, “Brrrr!” with a body shake. Erika, Caroline and I give it our MA/MBA best. Blake, Rebekah and Jordan film one that has us in tears of laughter; we’re still replaying it on my camera.
2:30 pm Jordan, Kayla and Blake head back to the hotel to lounge around the pool. The 9 of us pile into 2 cabs (our cabbies said they’d wait for us and drive us all day for a set fee) and head for the Lotus Temple. Super cool architecture, kind of boring inside. Feel a bit odd in a house of worship that has entrance and exit times like an amusement park ride. Hope that the swooping birds don’t freak Stacy out.
3 pm Outside of the temple, Erika and I notice a young woman sneaking our picture on her phone. Erika says, “You want a picture with us? C’mon.” We are set upon by a number of Indian tourists taking pictures with us, and we don’t turn anyone down. I could get used to this.
Head to cabbie, and ask him to take us to another temple. It becomes clear the shopping place he wants to take us to is now a requirement of keeping his services for the rest of the day. We agree – a little more shopping never hurt anyone.
3:30 pm Arrive at the Delhi Haat, mostly some junky stuff, but it’s sort of legit – there’s a bunch of Indian women shopping for sari material there. A few folks buy some tea, and jewelry, the rest of us just enjoy the fans. Our driver eats lunch then comes back to get us, and is pleasantly surprised that we bought anything (he gets a commission, of course).
4 pm Arrive Akshardam Temple. HUGE. Disneyland of temples. Long lines, super hot, people are wearing theme tshirts and hats. In the security line, the woman a) places two cupped hands firmly on all our breasts in the interest of national security and b) ties Stacy’s pashmina around Caroline’s waist (dress too short – at the knees) and drapes my scarf over Ashley’s shoulders (tube top). We are now fit to enter. The boys are unbothered in their shorts.
No photos allowed in Akshardam, so we buy postcards. Incredibly intricate, super interesting temple. Not enough time to take it all in, or do the 15-minute boat ride (a 1.5 hour wait) but we get our fill walking around and head back to find our cabbie. A few folks risk the water by eating some flavored shaved ice. (A few regret the decision later, but not as much as expected. Apparently worth it.)
5:30pm Leaving Askshardam, exhausted. Ask our driver Sunil to take us by India Gate just to shoot photos while driving by. On the bridge going over the Yemuna River (which feeds into the Ganges) WE SEE WILD ELEPHANTS GRAZING in the shallow wetlands part of the river. Unbelievable! Sunil pulls over and we leap from the cabs – blocking traffic and prompting a van full of Indian tourists to stop and get out too. I use Caroline’s camera to take pictures and video. Am totally in awe of seeing these animals – not only my favorites, but I’d started to think I’d never see any in India. And was worried when I did, they’d be in servitude. But here they are, munching and trumpeting away. Gorgeous. Feel my trip is complete and I’m only halfway done.
6:30 pm Pay the cabbies for their day of driving and waiting – Sunil asks for only 1200 rupees (about $27), we pay him 2000 ($45) and tell him we’ll call him next time we’re in Delhi. Scamper into the lobby of the hotel and find John, Caplan, and our lost 3 folks hanging at the tea lounge. Overwhelm them with our noise and chatter and show and tell of bargains and photos.
8 pm Dinner with most of the gang at Blue Ginger, the Vietnamese restaurant in the hotel. Not great, but I can now say I’ve eaten pho. Even if I can’t pronounce pho. Caplan and Semple stop in to say hello. Inspired by our pictures of Akshardam they hopped in a cab and tried to get there for the 7:30pm light show, but it was too late to enter.
10:30 pm Back to the room to try and pack all my new stuff into my suitcase. Rebekah and I have graduated to an additional tote bag (thanks Jay, for the wedding favors!) and agree I’ll carry it through security so she can stick with her 2 carry-ons. Crawl into bed gratefully. Day Off=Success.