At a Magic Bus fundraiser in NYC this past spring, my partner bid on a wonderful auction item: seven nights in various luxury hotels owned by the Taj Group in Rajasthan. Taj got lots of attention at the event for their generous donation, Magic Bus got a wonderful major gift, and I am now getting the chance to see India from a vantage point not usually granted to a development worker: I’m embarking on the Royal Rajasthan tour with stays at former palaces in the princely cities of Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaipur. We begin at the Taj Mansingh in Delhi. This is our executive suite, with two features I covet for my NYC apartment: a covered balcony and a separate dressing room. We unpack and take a walk around the ‘hood, which happens to include one of India’s most recognizable monuments.
Just an Ordinary Monday Evening
I remember coming to India Gate as a child, strolling with my parents on lush green grass and stopping always to get Kwality ice cream. The lawns are now off limits and the Kwality stand closed for winter but I’m delighted to see another sight that harkens to my childhood memories: the bhuttawalli. She’s there, roasting corn cobs and putting on just the right amount of lemon juice and spices to make them an otherworldly treat. But where did all these people come from?? And all those cars?? Nowhere is the rise of the Indian middle class more apparent than at its monuments. What used to be the purview of a privileged few and the occasional foreigner is now solidly claimed by regular folks. I’m also reminded that India’s population has doubled in the 40 years since I was here last. Sobering thought: how can any government provide enough clean water, food, energy and jobs for 1.2 billion (and counting).
Check back in to see the what’s next from our luxurious trip!
This article was first published on Magic Bus.