Sleep? Who needs sleep to recover from being sick? We met in the lobby of the hotel at 5:30am to load our bus and truck. Once again we were on our way to the airport, this time for our last flight within India. Thankfully, by now we had our system down. Weigh personal bags to be under 21 pounds. Check all costume bags to be under 50 pounds (side note, we managed to pack away the goddess figurine into my costume bag and still have it underweight). Haul out. Two men (usually Kyle and another) in the truck placing luggage, everyone else forming a line of luggage to be placed in the truck. Hard cases on the bottom, mattresses on top. The rest is history.
We said goodbye to Chennai, crossing our fingers that we wouldn’t have a medical emergency this flight. Thank goodness we didn’t and the flight proceeded as uneventful, thanks to our discovery of overpriced cough drops at the airport. When we at last walked out of the Delhi airport we were met by teachers from the American Embassy School, and presented marigold leis before being swept off to the actual school for lunch. Not just any lunch, mashed potatoes and gravy, chicken, salad, lemonade… We were in heaven.
Some of the tour leaders had to check out the AES’s theater, and some dancers left to teach creative dance classes to AES students, leaving most of us to relax in the dining hall. I was still feeling sick, so I found a bench and slept. Before too long, we were loading onto the bus to head to Humayun’s tomb, a burial ground for royalty that was built around the same time as the Taj Mahal. On the way we snuck a peak at the Gate of India and had an encounter with a snake charmer.
The tomb, and grounds surrounding it were incredible. To get to the actual tomb, we walked past the ruins of another such tomb, a first outside gate, a second inside entrance, and finally were allowed a peek at the tomb. There were also many other structures in the surrounding area that we could just see through the trees or behind walls. Such beautiful architecture filled with symmetry, ornate carvings, and use of light, not to mention the gardens were lovely. It was truly impressive. We spent an hour just walking around and through the tomb site. In contrast to the busy streets of India, the tomb was peaceful and calm. A welcome change.
For dinner, we drove to the LDS mission office and were greeted by the senior missionaries and elders. Once again we had delectable American food, including brownies (heavens, they were delicious)! We then proceeded to have a fireside with the local branch. We introduced ourselves, played the game “Honey, do you love me” and then performed Steppin’. After all the fun, we took a more spiritual approach and shared testimonies. The Spirit there was so strong and we could all sense the testimonies coming from that faithful branch. To close we sang them I am a Child of God, bringing tears to the eyes of many of us.
The sleeping arrangements for Delhi were much different than the other cities. We were paired with a host family that would give us a place to sleep, shower, and eat breakfast for the next couple of nights. Kyle and I, along with Logan, Tyler, and Cayle, were introduced to Roxanna who happily welcomed us into her elegantly furnished home. Roxanna was from South America and her husband is an American. They are in India for his executive position with FedEx. It felt like being back in the USA. We talked for an hour then enjoyed a peaceful night in a super soft bed. How we needed it, too!
*Photos from Mark Philbrick and myself.