Road Trips to Lancaster County

Aditya P. Singh
8133/5 Stadium Road, Opposite YPS
Patiala-147001 Punjab (India)

While a graduate student at Delaware, I bought my first car-a 1994 topaz colored Ford Tempo. Its owner, UJ, was a shopkeeper of Indian origin; upon selling it he had claimed to have driven a Ford as a cab in Baghdad that had topped five hundred thousand miles. I was much impressed by this proven robustness and low maintenance. However, the interiors of the car left much to be desired, as UJ had the nasty habit of piercing the car's rooftop lining with toothpicks.

As per Indian mythology every God or nobleman has his own vehicle or chariot, whereas commoners with poor karma just walk; while my friends had bought posh owned Japanese made cars for four times as much, I had invested a small part of my savings for this staid and lowly companion of my dreams. The next problem was learning to drive the car- this was easily solved with us taking driving lessons.

I did not know that Delaware was so near to nature, until another friend in the Material Sciences department, RM, asked me to accompany him to the Lancaster County Malls. While there are many roads leading from Newark to Lancaster, the most beautiful is certainly going northwest on DE-896. This picturesque winding little line of grey asphalt crosses the Newark Country club as one reaches the outskirts of Newark. Mother Nature provides solace, in form of its restful and invigorating fall colors. After a few sharp turns, one is suddenly in the land of rolling hills, llamas, streams and covered bridges. One leaves the worries of graduate research and the hustle and bustle of Philadelphia and Wilmington faraway. Truly, the only other example of such a transformation is Harry Potter waving his wand and entering the imaginary railway platform.

Lancaster County is home to the Old Order Amish community. In this essay, I will attempt to relate a few of my personal remembrances and desist from the temptation of writing about the Amish community. As one goes along the 896, one first crosses the village of New London, whereupon 896 continues as the Newark Road. The village of Homeville is followed by the Georgetown Road and then the town of Strasburg. Here one can see the old Railway museum and its steam engines. The road continues as the Hartman Bridge Road and finally upon turning left on PA-30 (the Lincoln Highway East) one comes across the Shopping Malls.

Taken together the Rockvale Square and Tanger Outlets have more than 160 stores. Polo Ralph Lauren, SAS shoes, GAP, Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger usually have heavy discounts and were the ones that we frequented. No Amish story is complete without the mention of patchwork quilts, furniture, horses, buggies and the pretty gas lanterns lighting up the windows of the houses while one drives back to Newark, under the lengthening evening shadows.

The fact that the Amish believe in the literal meaning of the Bible, follow a strict code of conduct, keep beards makes me think of my people, the Sikhs, in Punjab. Both communities have had an oppressed history, but that is another story.


  Published on 21/10/2011

  Source: E-mail 21/10/2011

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