This trip has been a unique experience, special and emotional, which has contributed to rise and embellish our spirits.
This trip was born, to offer our donators the possibility to go and see on their own. To see the projects of the Costa Family Foundation, to see what is happening in the TCVs, the Tibetan refugee children’s villages.
Together with the donours Alberta e Pierluigi Corbetta, Tiziana Busnelli, Oriù Busnelli, Roberto Nosotti and the film director and cameraman Roberto Condotta, I have started the trip on May 15th, 2011.“The itinerary was very long, going from the extreme North of India to the South, with a huge programme on visits to do; that was a bit frightening to me and to my wife already over seventy years old. Nevertheless our trip mates have contributed to turn this adventure into a pleasant and absolutely not tiring trip, giving us great fraternal attentions.
On May 15th, we landed in New Delhi. It’s “New” because the English, in the early 1900, have transferred the capital city from Calcutta to Delhi, starting to build all around the old city. The old city was a nice garden city, able to expand infinitely. Today New Delhi counts over 20 million inhabitants and is in great contrast to the old Delhi, where the population lives accumulated in little narrow streets within thousands of boxes being used for any kind of commercial and artisan activity. Until today the old city is without sewer lines and without the most elementary hygienic measures. In New Delhi on the other hand the English have built lots of important social works, as for example the India Gate, in memory of 90.000 people killed during World War 1 and the Afghan war. Through fantastic boulevards the India Gate brings to the pink stone Maharaja Palace, to the grandiose temples dedicated to richness. There is then the Jaipur Column, 192 metres high and surrounded by grand palaces, and last but not least the fantastic Ministerial Palaces, a mixture of English baroque, with “Mughal” gates and cupolas embellished by lotus flowers.
It is here in Delhi that we have visited Madame Jetsum Pema, sister of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The meeting has been emotional, characterized by simplicity and naturalness. Madame Jetsum Pema and her husband have clearly and gently answered to our questions, even the most political ones.
On May 18th we have flied to Dharamsala, in the western Himalaya, in the Kangra Valley. This is a densely populated zone, where in the far 1960 the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) has been born. Today the village counts 3.000 little exiled children. It is also in Dharamsala, that the exiled Tibetan Government is based, as well as the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The village is on more or less 2.000metres over the sea level, in the back the Tibetan mountains rise with its peaks of over 7.000metres height. An astonishing view!
Entering the TCV is like entering an oasis. Outside everything is as if the time would have stand still back of some centenary: chaotic, densely populated, narrow streets with steel plate boxes for the shopping and any other kind of activity, no hygienic measures, sewers in the open which run on both sides of the streets, cows walking around everywhere, frightening steep streets, and ages old public transports, everyone blows the horn, nobody gets out of the way. Well, as said, once in the TCV, everything changes, the most exasperating chaos leaves the place to a perfect organization. During an entire day we have visited all the sections of the village, the nursery school, the elementary school, the library, the secondary schools… we have appreciated the carreaux shirts and the green-yellow pullover uniforms. We have taken part to different lessons, had lunch with the president and the director, who have honoured us with the white scarf, in sign of friendship, and a “Tashi Delek”. In the end we have also met Thupten, the 11 years old child adopted by the foundation. We have visited the residence of the Dalai Lama, and the last project of the Costa Family Foundation: the amplification and building of the girl’s boarding school.
On May 20th we have returned to Delhi, and from here we have had a long transfer towards Agra for a visit to the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort. 204km and a 6 hour trip by bus on a two lane highway. It was a two lane highway indeed, although at every village it was crossed by lateral streets converging in it. These streets having shops and cow and animal fairs on their sides. One is going back of hundreds of years!
After other two and a half hours on the plane we arrived to Bangalore, a totally new metropolis. After all the chaos, here it seemed to be in Switzerland. Bangalore is a clean and tidy city, with modern buildings. With its eight millions inhabitants it is considered the Indian California, for its high number on foreign firms operating overall in the technological sector.
In 2001 the TCV University has been founded in the periphery of Bangalore. The Costa Family Foundation has contributed to the university with an entire floor of the girl’s boarding school.
The last two days of our trip have brought us to Mysore to admire the fantastic “Amba Vilas” Maharaja palace. We have then been to Kabini, 200km south of Bangalore, for a “typical African style” safari: elephants, tigers, crocodiles, monkeys, deer and over 300 species of coloured birds.
This trip has been a unique experience, special and emotional, which has contributed to rise and embellish our spirits.”