Picture
Photo by Jennifer Solorio
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Another bright and early morning on Sunday, meaning our usual 8:00 a.m. breakfast with the gang and we were headed off for a day full of sight seeing. After cramming into a white car, meant to seat six tiny people, the six Americans and two guides drove for approximately an hour and a half to Our Lady of Camel, an intercultural experiment for Christians and Hindus. It serves as a church and temple for people of either faith to practice freely. As mentioned in previous posts the level of respect for people of different faiths and the importance of religion in India is unlike any I have seen. People can practice without judgment from a person of another religion sitting next to them during a prayer.  
The surrounding area at Our Lady of Camel was open and silent. I think that is why I liked it so much. I could walk around and not have any by me. I wandered away to a dirt trail and Carole joined me but even then with our conversation I calm and collected like my time at the Jami Masjid.On a funny note I found a cactus for the first time since I went to Nevada and decided that it would be my friend this time compared to my last encounter where my brother pushed me into one…. My brother, the cactus and I really do love each other. After being found by Jen and Dr. Byers we walked back to the place of worship and I took a closer look into the temple and found beauty that I have only been able to witness in India. The colors of the tile were bright against the white walls and the only source of light was from the natural environment and candles for prayer. Jen took a moment to herself and prayed when I left sit in the warm sun and wait for the others to have their moments of peace. I couldn’t help but rejoice in the country I was in and the blessed life I live. 
Picture
Photo by Carole Burns
Picture
Photo by Jennifer Solorio
After leaving the camels behind we packed ourselves into the car and drove to the Adalaj Wav Step Well. The Step Well was constructed by a woman as a gift to her husband, something that is not only uncommon in India but also in the United States, I must say I was pleasantly surprised and pleased. You immediately see the intricate detail at the step well. Stone was hand carved, the colors of the clothing, a circle of women dancing around a young man playing an instrument and a baptism occurring on one of the branching pillars. A group of tribal women who were celebrating the baptism were sitting on the ground in front of one of the gods carved along the wall of the step well. They looked towards Jen and I and waved us over. The celebrity status has not left and neither has the sensory overload. But wait, there is plenty more.
While listening to the music, watching the dancing and taking in the spirit of the Step Well, I was engulfed by a group of school children who were full of smiles gearing up to take a group photo. They grabbed my hand and the chaperones asked Jen and I to be in their actual group photo. Jen and I were happy to do so. If we didn’t I feel we would have ruined their day. After the photo all the children touched my hand, then waved with a energetic “goodbye,” or simple, “bye” and “thank you, goodbye now.”
Picture
Photo by Chris Whitman
Picture
Photo by Chris Whitman
After the photo op we headed back to have a quick lunch and break and then we were back on the road to see a Jain temple and Gandhi’s Ashram. These were exciting.

When we arrived at the Jain temple we parked and were greeted by a group of langoor, a type of monkey in India. They were everywhere in the parking lot and they were extremely friendly looking until we exited the car and they ran after us. One jumped off the ground and pushed off my shoulder onto the car, another hit Jim’s head. Animals never leave Jen and I alone, but I suppose me wanting to feed them after their attack sent mixed messages.

Let me explain. After they attacked us two young men were feeding the langoor while relaxing in the parking lot. Smart old me thought this would be an incredible experience and so I asked if I could feed them too. The boys gave me some nuts and I held them with my pointer finger and thumb and they reached out with their paws and grabbed it from me. I was scared they would eat my finger instead but I still have all ten fingers and an exhilarating experience to tell. 
Picture
Photo by Carole Burns
Picture
Photo by Carole Burns
Picture
Photo by Carole Burns
Picture
Photo by Carole Burns
Picture
Photo by Carole Burns
Following the excitement with the langoor we walked towards the beautiful Jain temple. Woman sat on top of the temple, working on the details and stone. Unfortunately the temple does not allow pictures so the only ones taken were of the beautiful outside that made you anxious for what was within.

A little on the background of the Jain community: It is a sector of the Hindu community, and follows strict guidelines in terms of their form of worship and lifestyle. The Jain believe that any vegetable, and food, that is grown underground contains a bacteria, that when eaten, is considered the killing of a form of life. How they do this I do not know. It shows a strong level of commitment and determination that I admire about them and hope that I embody and show to others in the present and the future. 
After the Jain Temple we finally arrived at what I had been waiting for the entire trip, Gandhi’s Ashram. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an ideological and political leader in India during the Indian independence movement. He was a pivotal figure who helped to create many improvements among the government and civil rights for the country, despite many obstacles he and his followers faced. 
While walking around the ashram I realized the place was much simpler than I previously had expected. Though seeing the spindle Gandhi used to make his own cotton was absolutely insane. After reading several of the signs that said, peace, faith, hope etc. and speaking to Chris, I came to the conclusion that the ashram is a place of peace and to expect anything but simplicity would be wrong. It was a wonderful place that we all enjoyed walking around by ourselves. At the end before we exited we saw the three wise monkeys and jumped at the bit for a photo. It was a great way to end the day and reflect on the work of motivational Indians. 
Picture
Photo by Carole Burns
Despite the long day we all were OK with eating some ice cream with Fr. Danielle before dinner…. We’re in a foreign country with ice cream made by a Jesuit’s village, how could we say no? 



Leave a Reply.

    Author

    Andrea is a recent graduate from the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University with a double major in journalism and Spanish.

    View my profile on LinkedIn

    Archives

    March 2012
    February 2012
    January 2012
    December 2011