The Golden Triangle

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Ever since I started my full time position as the In Country Director my days have been filled with constant challenges and tasks that have made every day so rewarding and exciting.  Balancing the responsibilities of a Principal, Director and Networker for PACE and Piyali Learning Centre, makes sure that there is never a dull moment.In late May, I had the chance to share my life here in India with my Step-Dad, Ron, who came to visit me. We had a week in Kolkata, visiting Piyali Learning Centre and then headed to New Delhi for the Golden Triangle Tour of New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.  It was such a wonderful visit. Here I'm going to share some of the highlights of that trip. First I must share with you all one of the many holidays that we celebrate here in India.  Specifically in Kolkata, we all celebrate Rabindra Jayanti which is celebrating the life of the world famous writer and poet, Rabindra Tagore, who completely transformed Indian Literature and Music with his work. What all Bengalis are very proud of is that Rabindra Tagore who originated from Kolkata and that his work is now known world wide. He was one of the many contributors to the common knowledge amongst Indians that Bengalis are known for their love for the arts, literature and music. To celebrate his life, the girls of the Piyali Learning Centre prepared an amazing performance of his various songs and poems. Seeing the girls completely self direct this performance and have it be a huge success just shows just how far they have come and how smart these girls are. The week continued on and their were mix feelings at school as it was the last week before our month long summer holiday. For most of the girls they weren't looking forward to summer holiday because not only is it time away from their friends, but also time away from their Teachers'  and for many, time away from consistent warm meals and a positive loving environment. But still we wanted to give the girls some form of celebration for all of their hard work for the first half of school, so we had a small dance party, a delicious lunch followed by snacks and ice cream, which was donated by Ron, and then ended the day with the slip and slide. After a very busy day at the school, Ron and I packed our bags for Delhi for what would be both of our first times partaking on a tour package where the next four days would consist of seeing as many historical sites as possible,  eating delicious Indian food and just getting a small glimpse of Indian Culture. In Delhi we had a rick shaw tour of Old Delhi which included visiting Jama Masjid which is one of the largest mosques in India. Respecting the rules and norms for visiting a mosque we took off our shoes, put on robes, and went in to visit the Jama Masjid. One of the hardest parts though was walking across the red stand stone flooring, it was over a 100 F so I can only imagine how hot the tile must have been to have burnt our feet. One of the things that I was surprised was how clean Delhi seemed compared to Calcutta. Now many would argue that I didn't see the dirty parts of Delhi but in general, I was very impressed by the cleanliness of such a large city, granted this is in comparison to Calcutta and India, not to world wide large cities. After a short day visit in Delhi we headed straight to Agra to see the once main attraction that anyone who visits India, hopes to see, the Taj Mahal.  And it was even more beautiful than I had imagined, we were very lucky to go at six am when the doors had opened to get a glimpse of the Taj before it became too hot and over crowded with Tourist. One of the other big attractions in Delhi is Agra fort. Agra fort alone even makes the trip worth it. The architecture is just as beautiful as the Taj with even more history as it gave us a glimpse of the lives of the royal Mughal family.  You can tell through the design of the fort that the great Sultan, Shah Jahan,  had a great love for his family and also tolerance for many religions. Although he himself was a Muslim, he made sure that the architecture of Agra fort and Taj Mahal included aspects of Islam, Hinduism, Christianity.  Something that was very different for that time period, and even in present day is a mind set that I believe should de respected and is very special. After Agra, we had a very long drive to Jaipur, also known as the pink city for the colouring of the buildings throughout old Jaipur. Jaipur looked like any other decent sized city but what made it stick out the most was the Amer fort, the architecture and design of the fort was so well planned out and so majestic. Along with this beautiful fort, the best part was how delicious Rajasthani food is. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll just let some of my favourite pictures from the trip give you an idea of what these amazing two weeks were like.