Our final day in India was a long one. We started in Jaipur and made our way back to Delhi, before settling into a five-hour flight to Doha, a scramble through the airport, and a thirteen-hour flight to Boston.
Before flying home we had a final few adventures. The first was visiting the pilgrimage temple Holy Galta Gaddi, known to us as the monkey temple. This is a Hindu temple built to honor a divine water source, where Hindus come to bathe and offer prayers. Over the years, monkeys, cows, and pigs have made their home here.
Our students were thrilled to interact with the monkeys, respected representatives of the Hindu god, Hanuman, and the feeling appeared to be returned.
After leaving the monkeys to their peanuts and sunbathing, we traveled back to Delhi, stopping in the evening to examine a huge new Hindu temple, the third biggest in the world, on the way. No cameras or electronics were allowed inside, but we were able to watch a light and water show depicting the roots of Hinduism. It was an odd, rather modern take on the kinds of stories we had learned throughout the trip, rather like a Disney version of Hinduism.
We finished the day at the home of a Brimmer family; Neel Kumar’s grandmother graciously welcomed us to her home, fed us, and let us debrief the India Winterim. The students discussed the highs and lows of the trip, and the things for which they are grateful.
Now that we have returned, and there is a little time to reflect on our whole experience, I cannot emphasize how wonderful our students were: patient, curious, helpful, and kind to one another. This made the whole excursion even more special for the group.
All throughout our trip, people welcomed us by saying “Namaste.” This word is complicated to translate but essentially means that my soul recognizes your soul and that we are the same. The people of India use it to greet you and to send you on your way when you leave. This repetition, like a chanted prayer, means that we are always in the process of meeting new souls and seeing ourselves in them, always saying hello and goodbye to our own selves as we move through the world, and, if we are lucky, perhaps finding new ways of knowing ourselves.