A Journey of Discovery
Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Stephens travels by train to Ahmedabad to feel the real pulse of India.
Connecting with people and cultures, sometimes through unusual ways, comes naturally to Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Ambassador Kathleen Stephens. “One of the challenges that you face when you come here as a diplomat—a foreigner, not speaking the same language—is how you are going to feel the pulse of life…. I do believe, seeing makes it more real.” During her tenure as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 2008 to 2011, she was a keen bicyclist, completing several long journeys including a 2011 nine-day, 700-kilometer bike trip from Seoul, along the west coast of Korea, all the way to the island of Jindo in the far south.
Ambassador Stephens arrived in India in June. By August, she set out to get a feel of India and experience the way the vast majority of Indians travel. Her first train trip was on the Swarnajayanti Rajdhani Express from New Delhi to Ahmedabad. During the 934-kilometer journey, the Ambassador enjoyed the homemade Indian meals on the overnight train. She found the Ahmedabad-bound train was “very comfortable…I enjoyed it…and had a nice sleep.”
“One thing which impresses me about India is that it has such an extensive railway system and it is so much part and parcel of Indian life,” she said in an interview in Ahmedabad. Watching the sunrise, seeing evidence of Indian urban and rural life along the train tracks was quite an experience. During the journey, she chatted with followers through her Twitter account @AmbStephens. @dr_pinkesh wrote, “Welcome to Gujarat!! Try Gujarati dishes like dhokla, fafada, jalebi and more...you will never forget taste of it.” @tanvi_madan tweeted, “1962: US amb Galbraith traveled across India, not just riding but ‘driving’ train,” along with a photograph of Ambassador Galbraith.
In Gujarat, Ambassador Stephens visited the Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi, interacted with students and faculty of Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, met with U.S. business firms involved in solar energy, and took a tour of the Sarkhej Roza. She also met Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.
Which places do you think the Chargé should visit to experience Indian culture? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will forward your suggestions to Ambassador Stephens.