We spent one week here, being hosted by the Guru Nanak Dev University at the opportunity of The First Interantional Conference on Industrial and Applied Mathematics in the Indian Subcontinent. The organization of the event was excellent, we were looked after in a generous and thoughtful way. The bus picked us up at our hotel every morning, took us to the University for breakfast and then there was an official program of the conference. Michal took part in that, while Daniela spent this time with other wives accompanying their husbands. In the late afternoon we all met again and there followed a cultural program and a dinner. There are many things to remember: the Golden Temple at night, a cultural fiesta with wonderful dancing at the High School, a ceremony at the Indian-Pakistani border. And last but not least - delicious and HOT Indian food.
From the tourist viewpoint, Amritsar is best known for its Golden Temple, the spiritual center of the Sikhs faith. The golden shrine is a place where their Guru dwells. Guru is a holy book, similar to the Bible. Musicians inside the golden shrine chant the texts day and night. The loudspeakers carry the sound to the whole large site. It is very impressive - palace-like buildings surround the pool with the golden heart in its centre. Everything has almost a fairy-tale quality. White marble inlaid with semiprecious stones, a shrine plated with pure gold, covered with carpets inside. Everything very beautiful, very clean, washed with milk every night. What an experience to come inside from the dust, dirt and noise. And again, despite all the riches around you, what touches the heart most are people coming here. The Sikhs are open, honest with natural dignity. You learn to like and respect them.
There are not many tourists from the West in Amritsar, at least in this season. We would like to warn everyone that January and February are extremely cold months here. The heating is nonexistent. The reason is that the rest of the year is so hot that the locals enjoy a bit of cold. Well, we did not. Night temperatures were around zero Celsius, during the day around 8 - 10. Most of us suffered from sorethroat and cough. To keep warm became of primal importance. We did our best: we drank tea, drank firewater, bought pashmina shawls, swapped medicines and sympathy, supplied human warmth. When I come to think of it now, that cold was not such a bad thing.
First of all, Amritsar is an industrial city. It is a centre of the shawl manufacturing industry. We also saw a large Coca-cola factory, many Bata shops etc. Busy city, busy traffic.
We left Amritsar on Friday morning, January 26. We went by train together with other participants of the conference. It was the day when the horrible earth-quake hit the state of Gujarat. Being on train we did not feel anything but tremors were felt in Delhi and also as far as in Kashmir.
|April 21, 2001||Copyright 2001 Daniela and Michal Kocvara|