Level 8: Chandigarh…City Beauty

Wow… just when I start to wallow in boredom or homesickness India throws something new at me. Today it was Chandigarh. A bustling city at the bottom of the Himalayan foothills. This is also where the children’s hospital was located. Unfortunately we did not get to visit the hospital on this trip. However, I remained wide-eyed and sponge-like in order to do my best to soak up the sunshine in such a beautiful place.
It was a two-hour trip to get down there, key word being “down”, which meant I didn’t have to endure too much winding about the mountain side. Once we arrived we were greeted with some pretty serious traffic. Then all of a sudden, Pradeep made a quick right and there was nothing. And when I say nothing I mean everything. The lack of cars or people gave us the chance to see the amazing landscaping and colors that line this cities gaze. We first passed a military base with two big tanks out front. Not very subtle message I guess lol. Then we arrived at Chandigarh lake. It was amazing. I felt like I was going to the LA Zoo. Everyone was parking and excited. There was a camel out front offering rides…well his owner was offering rides at least 🙂 We went lakeside to see a beautiful lake, with the backdrop of the Himalayan foothills. Pradeep pointed out the exact place we had come from and even Manki point. It was crazy to see things from both perspectives. I mean once from Manki point looking miles down to Chandigarh lake, and then to be at the lake looking back up… truly special. So we rented a paddle boat. Liza and I decided to let Pradeep relax as we paddled out. He basked in the glorious sun as we paddled away. There were families and friend out on these boats. You could tell that this was a special place where people came to enjoy not only the scenery but each other. If you know me, you also know that I get tired of physical activity in the sun rather quickly. So after floating around and taking photos for about 30 minutes we headed back. Our next stop was the rock garden.
They were immense in number and after a while I soon realized that I’d seen this before. The cell phone cameras, the boys flirting with girls, the insecurity in their eyes, the wonder in their young lives. I had seen all of this before…in America. Every time I make the mistake of going into the mall on a friday or saturday night. Every time I drive home when school is letting out. It was all the same. A comforting fact to say the least. As I walked through the garden (see pictures on photobucket) I was more impressed by the people than I was the rocks. By the way the sculptures were all made out of recycled materials. The waterfalls were cast down over jagged edges of burnt coal. The walkways were lined with used porcelain from bathrooms and kitchens. Everyone was just enjoying a nice walk and a good time with great friends. Perhaps the most telling moment of humanity, was when two school girls had gotten lost. They were quickly running around crying trying to find their group. The older people, none of which had children with them, jumped right in to comfort the girls and direct them to where they had last seen their group. They physically escorted the girls back to safety. Just a small token of compassion but huge when you’ve never seen anything other than the American side of things. It was just one of those moments that made me realize that we are not so different. We are not so far apart. We are not enemies. We are brothers and sisters who all share a beating heart, a bipedal stance, a large brain (some larger than others lol), and an evolved awareness of our existence. That truly is the beauty of this place.

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