Lynda Takoudes has a beautiful photo of herself at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Behind her, the ornate white marble structure gleams in the morning sunlight. It’s a peaceful setting.
Takoudes, of Warwick, R.I., also has a photo of a tangled ball of wires about the size of a basketball atop a utility pole in Delhi, and video of a frenzied rick-shaw ride, with music blaring as they swerve through crowded city streets.
She was told when she booked her group tour of India that the experience would engage all of her senses, which was an understatement.
“The traffic noises are deafening – what should be a three-lane road [becomes] six or seven. There are trucks, cars, bicycles towing carts and then you have something like a Brahma bull just wandering around,” said Takoudes, of Warwick, R.I. “You can smell dirt and garbage and yet there will be beautiful flowers growing randomly.
“Somehow it all works – everyone just keeps going about their business.”
And serenity can be found in the center of it at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the Sikh temple and its large architecturally ornate complex of white stone and gift domes. It houses a devotion center, a large pond, a school, an art gallery, a charitable hospital and a community kitchen that feeds about 10,000 people per day.
India has an abundance of architectural showpieces. And, from Delhi to Jaipur to Agra, her group took in many of them, including the pink and red palace of Hawa Mahal, Amer Fort in Jaipur and, of course, the Taj Mahal.
While Takoudes mentioned those experiences, she was more focused on the people. She was particularly curious about the roles of women in Indian society.
“There are a lot of women leaders there, women in government, women astronauts…,” she said. “But there’s still a lot of opportunity, especially in central and southern India, to educate women.”
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