Sunday, February 9, 2014

Arrival and Chandigarh

Smith and I
I finally made it to Ludhiana!  After taking a train to Ludhiana from Delhi with my assigned travel buddy, Smitha, we were greeted at the hotel with a Punjabi blessing (flower necklace, drink, and red dot).  I also got to finally meet most of my team members before heading off to bed.

Fast Facts about Ludhiana:
Population: 1.6M
Language: Punjabi (it's located in the Punjab state, but most people also speak Hindi)
Religion: 60% Sikh,with the rest Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, etc

Some of the team at Rock Garden
The next morning we piled into a 14 seater van and drove to to Chandigarh, an "idyllic" Indian city that has been recognized as the cleanest city in India.  Chandigarh is the capital of both the Punjab and Haryana states, and is in a "state dispute", which means both states try to claim it as their own.  There are also many other regions in India that are in "state disputes" and either want to become their own state or are claimed multiple states.

Chandigarh is known for its urban planning (it was the first planned city after independence) and architecture.  An architect named Le Corbusier built the Rock Garden, a large labyrinth-like park constructed of rock and recycled materials (porcelain, glass, concrete, etc).  The Rock Garden had lots of sculptures and various rock formations and was an interesting use of recyclable materials in urban space.

Sculptures in the Rock Garden
After the Rock Garden, we got some delicious street food, which were potato pancakes with chickpea and sauce topping.  We then went to the Rose Garden, which claims to be the largest rose garden in Asia.  It was full of families picnicking and enjoying their Sunday afternoon in the park.
Delicious street food

The driving here is definitely more intense and nerve-wracking that most countries I have been to.  Cars squeeze into seemingly nonexistent spaces, and there are often 3 lanes of cars on a 2 lane road.  Horns are used to communicate regularly (i'm passing you, watch out I'm coming, don't move left, speed up, etc).
Weighing some oranges

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a stand on the roadside and bought fresh-squeezed orange juice.  It was so delicious one team member bought some oranges to take home and got to weigh it on this awesome scale.

For anyone that wants to read our official Corporate Service Corps team blog, here is the link

Word of the day: chalta hai (hay) - it's all good

#ibmcsc #india22