Jonestown Survivor Wishes you a Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
We Kohls finished 2012 and started 2013 the way we like to live – in an exciting and fascinating way! We traveled to India, visiting the homeland of Raul’s birth parents – the Punjab.

We incorporated every conceivable mode of transportation over the past two weeks. We flew to Istanbul and then on to Delhi. We traveled by foot, by pedi-cab, by “auto”-cab, by horse-and-carriage, by train, and by an arranged tour-guide/driver. Once we arrived in Delhi, we had time to travel all around the city to visit historical sites, and Sikh Temples. It was wonderful.

We arrived in India two days after a young woman was brutally raped on public transportation in Delhi. There were thousands of men and women protesting and roads, museums and government buildings were closed. We were safe at all times, but Delhi has moved ahead to bring attention to the role of women in India. Ignorant comments by government officials added fuel to the bonfire. As visitors, we did not get involved in the events, but watched, listened, and talked.

From there, we traveled to Agra and visited the Taj Mahal – which is not only majestic and breathtaking, but a mathematical masterpiece. It was exquisite.

We then traveled by train (a whole other story) to Amritsar close to the Pakistan border, and the heart of the Sikh community. We visited the Golden Temple – and had a tour like none other, through all of the parts of worship in the Sikh Temple including free meals. The Golden Temple feeds at least 10,000 meals a day, and sometimes as many as 100,000 on a weekend. We got our Golden Temple steel bracelets – worn by Sikhs – which represent their steel determination to follow their faith.

While we were in Amritsar, we went to the Pakistan-India “Wagah Border Ceremony,” held nightly. After behaving in a hostile, volatile way in daylight hours, the two sides of this explosive part of the world take a breath and actually hold a slap-stick comedy ceremony to take down the flags and temporarily open the border. Each day, hundreds of trucks wait on both sides for the evening hours, when they can enter the other country and exchange cargo. Commerce continues and even assists open communication between these fractious countries.

Then, we went to Chandigarh – a man-made “green” city between Amritsar and Delhi. They have a famous and amazing garden made from all recycled goods. The theme of PEACE is promoted all around this lovely city.

Finally, we returned to Delhi. We spent our last day shopping and watching the demonstrations which energized women around India after the brutal rape of a young student and her boyfriend on a city bus. She died from the attack. For the first time in recent history, the women and men of India closed down the government buildings and VIP residences of Delhi to protest the danger to women around India to travel. They have a legacy of protest after kicking out the British and gaining their independence sixty years ago.

This visit was fulfilling a life-time dream for all of us. Ron and I were so proud to be able to go with Raul for his first trip to India. Raul was just glowing. It was so obviously a wondrous event for him.

Tags: , , , , , ,