Wednesday, May 25, 2011

D and A at the Taj Mahal

Adrienne and I woke up at 5:00am Tuesday morning feeling cleaner already, just by the very thought of leaving Delhi. We had reserved 2 seats on a tourist bus that would pick us up at the hostel and take us directly to the Taj Mahal in Agra. However, consistent with our past experiences with transportation, this was only nominally a tourist bus. When will we learn?! In reality it was a broken down local bus with TOURIST painted on the side. To top it off , Indians must have a liberal understanding of the word "reservation" because there were no more seats available and the four of us (we traveled with 2 Israelis we met a few days earlier) had to squish on a little bench beside the driver. Thus began our 5 hour bus journey- packed like sardines without a/c in the 42 degrees heat!

We arrived in Agra and admired the Taj Mahal throughout the afternoon and evening. We spent a good chunk of that time being photographed by Indians who were fascinated by the two white kids! But we're used to it by now. Taking pictures with strangers and answering the basic questions (where are you from? what's your name?) is part of our daily routine. Sometimes, Ade and I spot people concealing all but the camera lens trying to sneak a pic! But people were not shy in Agra. Ade got trapped into what ended up being a 20 minute conversation with someone (although neither person understood the other), and not only were pictures taken, but he filmed part of the incoherent conversation! Later on, we were bombarded by a family with what seemed like at least 15 kids asking to shake our hands. It must be considered good luck for youngsters to touch white people because the father pushed the little ones to touch our arms, and then without warning he put a baby on my head!

Anyways, back to the important stuff, the Taj Mahal. After watching the Taj glisten in the sun for hours I now understand why it is one of the Wonders of the World. Neither words nor pictures can do it justice (another reason why you should consider a trip to India!) I typically appreciate the beauty of nature over man-made art, but the Taj Mahal  has demonstrated to me a certain aesthetic perfection attainable only by a creative usage of what our world has to offer. It is truly a magnificent structure. I was most taken aback by its purpose as an eternal tangible ode to love and beauty.

OK, I'll stop diminishing something so flawless with my words and leave you with something unrelated: never say "this is the hottest place I have ever been to" while traveling in India, because the next place you go to will be hotter! Delhi seamed unbearable but then Agra was 42 degrees, and now we are facing 47 degrees on the way to our next destination (stay tuned)!

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