Tuesday, October 20, 2015

First Impressions

Today marks a week since we arrived here in India. It’s time to share a few of our first impressions.

Our Flat

Our housing situation is a very pleasant surprise! The British influence is evident in that our apartment is our flat and yes, there is a lift (elevator) and even though we go up 2 full flights of stairs, it’s on the second floor. (We enter on the ground floor; going up one flight of stairs has us on the first floor, etc.) It’s much larger and nicer than we were expecting!
We have 2 bedrooms, an office, a living room, dining room, kitchen, and 3 bathrooms—one even has a tub for me to soak in! Yeah!
We have granite counters in the baths and kitchen and most of our floors look like marble but we were told they are really granite.
The office has wood floors and all the rooms have high ceilings—I’d guess 10-foot.
There are narrow balconies all around with 5 different doors leading out to them.
Our building is owned by the Church and there is only one flat per floor. The basement is the office for the grounds keeper/maintenance guy. The ground floor has 4 sister missionaries in it. The first floor is where another senior missionary couple lived until just the week before we arrived—they worked on public affairs and humanitarian projects. We’ve been asked to follow up with some of their contacts. We live on the second floor and the third floor is a smaller flat with a balcony where the two AP’s (Assistants to the Mission President) live.

The light switches were a mystery to us at first—but we’re slowly figuring out which switch goes to which light or outlet.
At first I would just switch all of them on in a room as I entered and then all of them off—and wondered why there was no hot water in the bathroom. Then I noticed that a few of the switches had round circles on them, signaling that it was best to leave those switches on all the time. When I’m jet-lagged, the learning curve is even longer than usual.

We live right next to the Mission Home/Mission Office in a very nice part of Delhi called Vasant Vihar. (The brick building is ours and this is the walk to the cream-colored Mission Home next door.)
There are Embassies all around us. Most buildings have gates around them with security guards in little booths out front 24/7—both the Mission Home and our building do. A few blocks away is a large park for taking long walks and getting away from the noise and traffic for a while.
We’ve seen lots of birds including peacocks and peahens plus pigs. This morning we passed a couple of cows/bulls on our way to the park and of course there are lots of loose dogs everywhere.

The Food

The very first day we were here, the Mission President’s wife took us to the closest market place and introduced us to their favorite places to buy food—first the fresh fruit and vegetables stand, then the milk/yogurt/egg/cereal store and finally the chicken store (I was happy to see that these were refrigerated!).  Another happy surprise is that we are encouraged to buy any and all fruits and vegies, bring them home, wash them, soak them for 10-20 minutes in bleach water, let them dry, and eat them all! So the prep time is greatly expanded, but we’ve had lettuce and spinach salads, apples, bananas, pears, persimmons, pineapple, pomegranates, tomatoes, celery, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, green beans, red peppers, just about everything you can think of.

Our flat comes with a reverse osmosis water filter in the kitchen for drinking and rinsing dishes. The water coming out of it is cleaner than most bottled water here so we are encouraged to fill our own bottles and avoid drinking the regular water unless we want a case of “Delhi-Belly.”

We did go out to dinner with the Mission Presidency, District Presidency, and Branch Presidents and wives following District training on Saturday night—how is that for good timing?
It was an Asian Kitchen Restaurant, but with an Indian influence for sure! Elder A ate something so hot that it brought tears to his eyes and gave him a case of the hiccups! All in all, we liked the food, drank bottled water, avoided all fresh vegies/fruit and did just fine!

The Traffic

Here in India, you drive on the left side of the road—another British influence. And you usually stop at red traffic lights, but not always—large trucks and busses often honk and proceed, and if no one is coming the other way, why stop? And, as the mission driver shared, whoever painted those white lines on the road wasted a lot of paint! No one pays any attention to them! There are a lot of motorcycles and ‘autos’ (yellow and green minicars powered by motorcycles) and small trucks and cars so a road with three lanes marked on it may have 5 or more vehicles traveling down it side by side at any given time. And at a stop light, once traffic has finally stopped moving, there could be even more lined up across the road. You are literally inches away from vehicles around you. It’s pretty crazy, and yes, I close my eyes lots of the time!

Our flat is across from a small park and has a fairly major road in front of and beside it. There are no yield signs at the corner, but there is a lot of honking! I’ve been told that they honk to let others know they are there. I’m amazed that there aren’t more accidents, but have been told that Indians honor and respect life so try their hardest not to hurt anyone or any animal (loose dogs, wandering cows, people walking along the side of the road, bicyclists, people pulling carts, etc.). This is a view from one of our balconies.


India is home to almost 1.3 billion people, 24 million of which live here in New Delhi/Delhi area. That’s a lot of people! And they have a real problem with air pollution here.This is today's sunrise--the sun was pretty red.
The Mission President’s wife is doing all she can to keep us all safe and healthy! She has ordered air purifiers for all of our apartments—ours got here just the day before we did. She gives out air masks—but we brought our own and have used them some already! The area we live in is one of the cleanest—not because people don’t drop their litter everywhere, but because there are people who clean the streets and gutters every day, other people who come and pick up the piles of trash, and still others who burn it in the park right across the street from us. We’ve been told that the air is worst in the mornings and evenings, and especially in the winter (December and January).  Riding in autos is bad any time of day, since they are not enclosed and open to all the fumes of the road.

The People

A view out the window this afternoon
We had been told that, of course, the very best part of India are the kind, gentle people who live here. They are simply amazing! And the women are so colorfully dressed! When we showed up Sunday morning at one of our Church’s branches (small congregations), we were immediately welcomed and I think the vast majority of the members attending that day came up to us and shook our hands either before, during, or after the meeting, and there were about 80 in attendance. They were so friendly and glad to see us! However, over half knew no English! It was interesting to hear most of the speakers and teachers at church saying something in English and then repeating themselves in Hindi. The church was held in a bank building, on the first through third floors—with the baptismal font on the roof! And yes, there was a baptism immediately following the regular meetings to which 36 people attended. Pretty exciting first meeting for us! We will be working mostly with this branch in Dwarka as well as a smaller branch in Noida which we will be visiting this next Sunday. We’re excited!

We get to attend a Young Single Adult Conference (ages 18-30) this Thursday through Saturday. It's being held in Corbett National Park, a 6-7 hour bus ride northeast from here. Sounds like fun!

A Visit from An Apostle

President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, is coming to Delhi! On October 28 and 29! He is meeting with us missionaries during the afternoon of the 29th, and then with all members that evening! Pretty exciting! What good timing for us! Stay tuned for a report in the next blog!


  1. Exciting adventures!! Thanks for the updates!

  2. Wonderful adventure! Thank you for all of the details!

  3. Loved the information. Your apartment is much nicer than the ones we had in Russia and the outside looks clean. Nice!

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    2. It is one of the cleaner areas, but there is a layer of black soot every morning from the burnings of the trash in the park. And there is more trash on the streets waiting to be swept. There is constant cleaning going on around here! Makes me think of the constant need of spiritual cleaning in my life--no matter how hard I try, I do pick up "trash" and "soot" throughout the day and a "cleaning" via prayer, repenting, taking the sacrament, makes all the difference to me.

  4. Thanks for the update. Yeah for being able to eat fresh fruit and veggies!!!

  5. I was wondering when we would hear from you next. What a new experience. Good Luck on your trip.