After breakfast, we headed to an organic farm by the name of Navdanya. Navdanya is an NGO that works with farmers all over India to switch from chemically modified seeds to organic seeds. The people there greeted us warmly, and after a short talk on the history , took us around the farm. Here, we meet Pablo, one of the many interns on the farm. He told us a lot about the mechanics of polycultural farming (Polycultural farms have multiple crops growing in the same area). Later, we had a wonderful lunch, full of all organic food. Anuj was amazed at the spices used in the dal.
A few highlights from our time in Dehradun so far:
On Tuesday, we drove to Rishikesh, a beautiful town along the banks of the Ganga (Ganges) River – known a global hub for yoga. Here the students are entering the Ashram we visited, where we had the opportunity to meet with a Hindu guru.
After lunch at the Ashram, we headed to Rajaji National Forest and took a three hour safari – we saw lots of wildlife including elephants, deer, peacocks, monkeys, and many bird species.
After a hike through an area of Dehradun known as Rajpur, we had a cooking class – we learned to make a delicious chickpea dish and rolled dough to make puris (fried bread).
We arrived safely in Dehradun on the train on Saturday afternoon, and have spent the last two days getting acclimated to the city we will be exploring for the next week. We received a warm welcome at Welham Girls School on Saturday, where our nine girls are being hosted. Later in the day, the boys headed to Doon School, where we were met by Davan, the exchange student who came to Groton last year.
On Thursday (March 8th) we woke up bright and early to go to the Taj Mahal. The line was very long, but there was lots of entertainment such as monkeys. To make things better, we also got authentic chai (Zoe is a fan). Although we missed the majority of the sunrise, we were still struck by the beauty of the Taj Mahal. The light reflects on the Taj Mahal thus it changes color throughout the day, so it was really special to be able to notice the progression throughout the day.
We landed in the “World’s 2nd Best Airport” (Delhi) two days ago and have much to report. When we came to, we found ourselves in a hotel with three museums, Terra Cotta, textiles, and artifacts from “daily use”. Perhaps more importantly, the hotel was home to quite a few monkeys! Chris had to fend off a particularly bold one from munching his breakfast… After an orientation with our guide, Shantum we set off to the house where Gandhi spent his last days. We followed concrete markers for the path he walked in his last moments and explored the museum. We then had “high tea” with Dr. Karan Singh, a politician/poet/scholar/naturalist/diplomat. Due to the many hats he wears, he gave us a lecture on Indian politics and history, fielded our questions about population control, and recited a Robert Frost Poem.
We are gearing up to leave for Logan Airport this evening for our flight to Delhi (via Dubai). Mr. Lamont hosted a Bollywood movie night last night for students who are on campus and we are heading to an Indian lunch shortly.