GROM winners Katie & Evan arrive in India

Elephant riders in India

We have landed in India! We arrived at the airport in Delhi at around two thirty in the morning for the start of the ‘Highway to the Himalayas’ tour. Going through customs took forever and by the time we collected our bags and found our way to the “Team Kevan” sign it was about five in the morning. My Mum had arrived a few hours earlier and was already settled in bed. I asked reception for a master key for a little surprise hello! We finally went to bed and woke up to explore the town on about five hours of sleep. To be honest it was a little hard to sleep at all. We were excited; the sun was beaming through the windows, the cars and tuk tuks were honking! The chaos of the streets in Delhi was calling us!

Katie and her mum in India

During our first morning in Delhi we visited the Red Fort and took a rickshaw through the streets of Old Delhi. While on the rickshaw we went down Chandni Chowk Street, which had a building for every major religion you will find in India, even a Christian Church! Our driver took us down a very narrow alley where we saw wild monkey’s climbing through the electric wires. The alley was very quiet because it was a day when most of the market in the alley was closed and there were only a very few people selling vegetables. I couldn’t imagine having to drive a rickshaw through there on a day when the shops were open because the alley was seriously only a couple of feet wide, but then again the rickshaw drivers are pretty skilled at manoeuvring through people, motorcycles, cars, dogs, cows and everything else you can imagine! Our driver was very courteous and made sure to drive around all of the pot holes. It was a very windy ride! To my surprise our tour of Old Delhi took us to the largest mosque in India, Jama Masjid! I never realized how significant this religion is amongst so many people around the world. We also visited the memorial for Mahatma Ghandi, the place where he was cremated. It was a beautiful square structure that surrounded the area and inside there were beautiful gardens.

I noticed there are a lot of birds, mostly pigeons in Delhi and I am sure I will continue to notice their presence all throughout the country. I found out that it is good luck to feed the birds in the mornings. A childhood memory finally makes sense to me now! In our home-town there are a lot of immigrants from India and in the neighbourhood where my parents live there is a small park where the East Indian woman feed the birds. Close to this park is the elementary school I went to as a kid and I was allowed to walk home by myself. I clearly remember walking home through the park eating a bag of popcorn and in flew a bird thinking I was going to feed him! I didn’t give the bird anything but all of a sudden in came a whole flock of them, swooping in to swipe my popcorn! I gave up, threw my popcorn away and ran home! But secretly, I think feeding the birds that day brought me the good luck of winning this trip!

Next we’re off to the Pink City of Jaipur. Stay tuned for more from the Highway to the Himalayas!

– Katie Powell


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