Travel: Chaos of Delhi

imageAfter finally meeting up with Nick at the Delhi Airport around 6 AM (his flight was delayed by 2 hours on his way out from Dubai), we hopped on a Metro to reach our hotel.  Emerging from the metro station, I was quickly overwhelmed by the site that greeted us. It can best be summed up in one word: Chaos.

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India is the most populous democracy in the world, with a staggering 1.2 billion citizens. However, despite being the world’s 10th largest economy by GDP, and the 3rd largest by PPP, this nation struggles to align its modern ambitions with its financial limitations.

 

After securing its independence from British rule in 1947, a period during which Mahatma Gandhi yielded significant influence,  India continues to face the shackles of corruption of corruption and poverty. It is home to the largest concentration of people living below the World Bank’s poverty line of $1.25 a day.

Chronic malnutrition of children is rampant across the nation, and the socio-economic disparity between this nation’s states has only continued to grow. India can only tax about 0.1% of its population, and then these funds are directly used to feed its poor, leaving little flexibility for the money to be allocated elsewhere.  It is a sobering reality to see all the day-to-day battles these individuals have to endure.

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The street clamours for attention with the loud yells of the rigshaw drivers bantering for business and the constant beeping of horns as cars dodge each other, and people, as they drive the street.

 

We decided to take a rigshaw to our hotel, since we were a little disoriented after our tedious travel. I’d describe riding in a rigshaw as a harrowing experience, filled both with excitement, adrenaline, and an ounce of fear. There is little regard for right of way, and the drivers bravely weave their cars in and out of traffic. We like to laugh and call it taking a gamble on life, akin to playing a round of Mario Cart.

 

 

 

 

Travel: Napoli Underground

Italy is a surprisingly long peninsula, requiring my trip from Venice to Napoli to last around 7 hours. Therefore, I took a night train and arrived in Napoli in the wee morning hour of 7 AM. After hauling my backpack to my hostel, I departed to explore the historic centre, without an inkling of a plan. (I had chosen Napoli as my rendezvous point so that I had easy day-trip access to Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii. )

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Don’t get me wrong, this city is the only one on my list that legitimately terrified me. At present, the city has one of the highest crime rates in Italy; high unemployment paired with severe waste management issues continue to plague the city. Rumors of blackmail, extortion,and illicit contract tendering have emerged questioning the ethical viability of the local government. Read up on Camorra Organized Crime for a better understanding of the powerful opponents that challenge elected officials.

 

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Some of the most interesting churches I have visited are here. In my wanderings, I stumbled into the Church of Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco, an abode that has gained a cult-like following for the dark, yet hopeful atmosphere housed beneath it’s floors.

 

Traditionally, Roman Catholics view Purgatory as a state or place of purification or temporary punishment. It is where souls that died in a state of grace are believed to be preparing for the Beatific Vision in Heaven. No one in Purgatory will remain forever, or be banished to hell.

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Origins of the ‘cult’ can be traced back to the early 1600s, when a church sought to establish a liturgical link between the living in the dead. The modes of worship for these souls vary, but express the possibility of developing a relationship through the ‘adoption’ and caring for of an individual’s remains. This ancient cult, survived despite wars and famines, and was so pervasive that Cardinal Ursi prohibited it in 1969, although it is still practiced.

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One of the most famous remains is ‘Princess Lucia.’ According to legend, the skull was that of an 18th-century teenage bride, whose tragic death evolved into her becoming the unofficial protector of young brides.

 

My next destination was a stop at San Lorenzo Maggiore; as a church and monastery, its presence is rooted in the Franciscan order, one that existing during St.Francis of Assisi‘s lifetime. Its location is at the precise geographic center of the historic center of the ancient Greek-Roman city. I was able to explore the streets of the original Roman Market at the intersection of via San Gregorio Armeno and via dei Tribunali.

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