We are finally out of Delhi! Actually, we have been for several days now but the entire experience there has given me risidual writer’s block.
As some might notice, I actually have posted another blog about the scams in Delhi that we experienced. After an exhausting 3 days, we moved 3.5 hours south to the city of the Taj Mahal. Of all the very famous monuments I’ve read about or seen, this is probably the only one I was actually excited to see because I heard it never fails to live up to the hype. And it certainly did not disapoint.
As I mentioned in my last post, Dustin and I decided to hire a car and driver for our tour around Rajasthan for simplicity sake and because there are things in Rajasthan that are outside the major cities (as in most places, I suppose, now that I actually think about it) that would make it quite difficult to see by train. It completely blew our budget for these first couple weeks but I still feel positive about the decision…mostly because we haven’t been abducted, hustled or left on the side of an Indian highway yet.
Agra was…not the best place I’ve ever been. Dustin and I were shocked because the entrance to the Taj Mahal is 750 rupees ($15 CAD) which is as much as we have paid for some hotel rooms so far….a pretty penny by Indian standards. And you would think, logically, that money would be redirected back into the development of Agra because MILLIONS OF PEOPLE GO THERE EVERY YEAR, but no. I’m 96% sure the ‘water’ that flows in deep gutters on the sides of the roads there contains sewage and I am 100% not okay with that.
The Taj Mahal was everything I expected and more. It actually is a tomb which, upon reflection, is kind of weird that everyone wants to take pictures with and be inside a tomb….
When we arrived at our hotel in Agra, we checked in and were led to our room. I watched as the man unlocking our room unlocked a heavy padlock on the outside of the door in absolute horror. It reminded me exactly of a jail cell. When I expressed this concern to Dustin later he nonchalantly replied that he thought it was, “great! Because we can lock it behind us when we leave.” Which confused me. Most doors you can lock behind you when you leave, but they don’t all have heavy padlocks on the outside that can be locked regardless of how the people on the inside feel. I did spend some of the night trying to scope out any weak spots in the window in case they decided they wanted to lock us in at any point during our stay. They didn’t do such a thing, but for the record, there weren’t any escape routes.
Dustin and I had read the Taj Mahal was supposed to be best seen at sunrise and we figured it would be the best time to avoid crowds as well. Normally the word ‘sunrise’ is not in my vocabulary unless I’m talking about things I sleep through, but my body is still so confused about the actual time and I have been sleeping from 7pm to 6am instead of what regular people do, so this made the sunrise Taj Mahal visit entirely possible. We were told the Taj Mahal opened at 6am and the sun typically rose at 7am. We were a 5 minute walk from the west gate and got there right at 6am. The ticketing process was ridiculous and ineffecient. Women and men had to line up separately but then there was only one man at the end of the line accepting money and issuing tickets and it was basically a race for whether the men or women in a group would get to the counter first because then they would just buy for their group. Completely pointless. We then had to actually line up at the gate, again separately. We were divided by local/tourist and then again by male/female and we all shuffled into these narrow lines separated by heavy iron fences…kind of like livestock. The line was not moving at all and I slowly watched as the darkness faded and with it, it took my dreams of seeing the Taj at sunrise. However, seeing it that early was an unbeatable experience.
I noticed two major things since leaving Delhi. My positivity increases as does the number of animals I see casually in the streets. Not sure if they are related or not. I get endless delight from seeing a random goat or a CAMEL wandering through the streets and Dustin’s arm might be getting sore because of my attempts to show him a new animal that has wandered into my gaze. I saw a goat jump up on a man like a dog does for a treat in Agra………..I still don’t know how I feel about it. Did anyone know goats were limber/smart enough to do such a thing? I saw cows, goats, monkeys and pigs in Delhi. Since Agra we have added camels and now in Jaipur, elephants!
The one thing that hasn’t increased since leaving Delhi is the amount of women on the street. I think the population of India might be 17 women (including me) and the rest are men. There are so few out and about that Dustin and I can actually play Spot the Woman. It’s very fascinating. Like I said, only gangs of men.
And lastly, I will end on the positive news that neither Dustin or I contracted Delhi Belly in or around Delhi. However, if you get sick anywhere in India, it is still commonly referred to as Delhi Belly (I guess India Intestines doesn’t sound as cute? Delhi Diarrhea?) so there is still a likely chance we will still experience it.
We are now in Jaipur; famously referred to as the Pink City which just makes it sound lovely, doesn’t it? I’m so obsessed with our hotel and the cute staff running it that I want to take them all with us but Dustin isn’t sure if we are ready to take the step of adopting 7 adult Indians in our relationship yet. I’ll keep you posted.
We arrived last night so we haven’t got to explore it yet, which we will do today as well as see the Amber Fort. Thanks for reading my ramblings!