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Agra

March 29, 2011

Things are really down to the wire here. I’m updating from the free wireless terminal in the Doha, Qatar airport (seriously, American airports really need to get on the ball with free wireless in airports) after an 11-hour flight about which I really can’t complain. Though my eye was caught by films like 127 Hours, The King’s Speech, and The Social Network that I’d been very eager to see, somehow it was The Aristocats that earned the first viewing. And by “somehow,” I mean for obvious reasons:

I did end up watching 127 Hours as well and was very impressed. Guess I’ll have to find time on the upcoming 10-hour flight for the other two.

But I digress. One of our highest (if not only) priorities for things to do in Delhi actually had nothing to do with Delhi. We felt a very warranted need to make a day-trip to Agra to see the marvelous Taj Mahal. It was four hours away and we decided it made the most sense to go with a tour group. Unfortunately this had us standing on the sidewalk for two extra hours waiting for our bus to arrive (flat tire?), but it also meant we had the pleasure of checking out Agra’s Red Fort, something we might not have opted to do on our own. There are pictures but I haven’t come into possession of them and needed to get the ball rolling. So here’s what I do have from the Taj Mahal:

With us in the pictures are Kessi, a French-Mauritian guy in the group who was often mistaken for Indian and two very nice (and seemingly very loaded– they were picking up tour guides’ and horse-drawn-rickshaw-drivers’ tabs left and right) Indian girls whose names I’m sorry to say I’ve forgotten. We’d go on to spend some more time with Kessi in Delhi in the following days.

We’d read in a tour book that it was official policy at the Taj Mahal that Indian citizens paid 20 rupee (the equivalent of 50 cents) for entry, while foreigners paid $20 (the equivalent of, well, 20 dollars). I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case. Indian citizens did indeed pay 20 rupee, but foreigners only had to pay 750. You know… just $18.75. This ruffled our feathers a bit, especially since the delay earlier in the day prevented us from actually entering the giant marble mausoleum (though I’ve heard reports to the effect of, “It’s kind of just a big white room…), but I suppose in the end it was worth it.

I’m also missing photos from our later stop (when we were all pretty tired and just eager to get to bed) at some town along the way that is the supposed birth place of one of the most revered Hindi gods, Krishna. I got in a bit of a shameful scuffle with the ladies at security (made me go all the way back to coat check to deposit my dead iPod whose presence in my purse I’d forgotten… the nerve!) and as I said everyone was kind of tired/hungry/cranky, so I can’t name this as the best stop of the trip by any means. But 2 am eventually rolled around and found us back, safe-and-sound in Delhi for the last few days of our trip.

In honor of Laura, who deemed this the soundtrack for the day, Sam Roberts’ “Taj Mahal.”

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