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A tear drop on the face of eternity

Agra, India


We started our journey across the country east-ward. Jaipur was our first stop, but only for a day. Turned out that this day was the local kite festival, and almost everything was closed. We wandered the streets (which seemed oddly quiet) in the morning, but were quickly bored with the lack of streetside entertainment which we are now used to. After attempting to go to a movie but lacking the energy to figure out how the queues worked, we settled for grabbing a couple of beers at a local shop and heading back to our hotel room to sit on the roof top and watch the kite flying.

We got to the rooftop to find the owner of the hotel and his son flying a kite. Glen had a go at flyinh it, but after he lost it we thought a more hands off approach was best. The skies were filled with kites - everyone was on the rooftops celebrating with their families. It had the same kind of feeling as Guy Fawkes. {Once I load the photo, all the dots in the sky are kites).

After a little, some of the owner's family started to arrive. They were having an afternoon meal in celebration, and kindly let us join in for part. These people clearly had money, so talking to them was an interesting contrast to many of the people we've met so far in India, particularly to our camel drivers in Jaisalmer (who presumably emphasised their poverty to get a bigger tip). They were particularly interested in our career plans and marital statuses, and couldnt believe that Glen and I were just friends. While we managed to convince them of this, I don't think we convinced them that we could sleep in the same bed without 'touching each other'. He thought that must be "very difficult" at our age.

We left this morning at 6am for Agra - the home of the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, despite knowing the Taj is closed on Fridays, we had stupidly booked a ticket for Friday, and our onward ticket to Varanasi for that evening. I blame holidays and not knowing what day of the week it is. Hard life huh!

We went to see the fort with its amazing architecture, and then walked along the river to the Taj area. Along the way we were followed by rickshaw drivers who were pleading with us to take a ride. We've been starting to learn a little Hindi, and kept telling them nahi chai'iya, which means "I don't need it". They love when we make the effort to speak some Hindi, and it usually cuts us a break with insistant beggars or touts. But here, they've been using it as a conversation starter, to convince us that we really need this rickshaw ride, portable chess set, or Taj Mahal keychain. Still, they persist with a smile.

Once in the taj area, we walked down to the back of the Taj around the river, which got us close to it (but not inside the grounds). It's pretty impressive close up, but still, not as big as we'd always imagined. We walked back up to the city around it, and sat on a rooftop sipping chai, with an amazing view, and watching the monkeys and squirrels play. We sat there for three or so hours and had a meal, feeding a cheeky squirrel who wanted a share of our food. I don't think the restaurant owners were too impressed by our encouraging it onto the table. In all honesty, this was a perfect way to see the Taj, as neither Glen or I really like to do the touristy thing. This way we could chill out without being barrated to buy things we don't need, and battle queues of people.

Tonight we catch an overnight train to Varanasi. We are trying to mentally prepare ourselves for this leg of the journey. Varanasi is by all accounts, spiritually amazing, but emotionally draining. It is full of aggressive touts, scams, beggars, and Delhi Belly. But many people we've met have said that it was also their favourite place of all. Very excited (and nervous)

xo


permalink written by  Capto on January 15, 2010 from Agra, India
from the travel blog: Two months in Limbo
tagged AgraJaipurTajMahal

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