Today was a very busy day. We had a 6 a.m. wake up call. I actually was awake at three. I am not certain if jet lag is hitting me several days delayed or the fact that there was a power outage around that same time. This is pretty common in India to have power surges where energy is lost anywhere from two to six hours. The instability of the infrastructure creates gaps in conductivity. After breakfast, the electricity was restored. It was a very self-reflecting moment and makes you think about the luxuries of home. I simple walk in my front door and don’t second guess the fact my lights will turn on. Not always the case for the people of India.
Our tourist adventures for the day included the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, the Palace, and some shopping. We had a big to do list on our last day in the city of Agra.
The Taj Mahal didn’t disappoint, once we got inside. In true Indian fashion, we were being hustled from the moment our feet touched the half a kilometer red driveway to the entrance of the tomb. When we approached the counter, we were divided by foreigners and Indians, and then secondly by woman and men. The total cost was 750r, approximately $11 USD. I am not going to lie it was very chaotic and majorly confusing. In the security check point, I lost my extra watermelon bubble gum, Diego lost a Cliff bar and a package of nuts, and Jason was the biggest loser. He lost his cigarettes, lighter, Altiods, and several snacks. I was wanting to pack my watercolor supplies to sketch, I am so glad I left them in the hotel room. The continuous chatter from the guide was overwhelming. We eventually had to tell him no thank you more aggressively, but all was calm when we stepped into the garden space.
It was a pure delight to experience one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s perfectly symmetrical balance facade was stunning from all directions. The morning light made the Taj glow a soft pink. I took two Polaroids, one from the morning and the second when we left around noon. You can totally see a different in the color of the marble as it reflects the sun’s light.
The Taj Mahal is the ultimate symbol of love. It was build by an emperor after the death of his third wife. He was to erect the most perfect tomb for her to sleep eternally. If a man built me a correrra marble bathroom, I would be happy! 😁
As we left the Taj Mahal, a looming question was answered. Do Indian woman wear undergarments under their saris? As we left the large white sweeping marble stair case of the Taj Mahal, India national relic, a woman was hovering over a drain, sari hiked up to her hips, using the restroom. Less than 100 feet away were proper facilities. It was a shocking moment. The answer to my question: no people fly-free under their saris.
This has been a very common scene in our tour seeing people using the bathroom, where ever and when ever. Jason and I started to play a game, like the Volkswagen game, punch buggy. It is comical, but again supports the notation of the lack of infrastructure with plumbing and running water to support the needs of an ever-growing population.
Our tickets from the Taj Mahal also allowed us entrance to Agra Fort. A massive thriving community in 1500 AD. It would have been a cool spot to live, but as a female I would have been a member of large one hundred women harem. From hydroponic farming to private outdoor baths, the Fort was a modern marvel. From the back view in the Yamuna River, you could see the Taj Mahal. Sadly the river was polluted with trash and debris. You could also across the river some locals sunbathers. I would assume they were also collecting water and washing laundry.
We came back from our morning tours to our hotel for breakfast. I made a small change to my diet, a hot green tea, but would suffer the consequences later in the evening. I haven’t talked to my travel buddies if they have incurred the same sickness, but “Delhi Belly” is a thing that can happen. Precious to leaving, I visited a travel doctor at Emory. She prescribed me some stomach medicine. So hopefully this will reduce the symptoms and get my stomach back on track.
After breakfast and the fatal green tea, we were back out hitting the sights and shopping. I was able to secure some small gifts, while adventure to the Palace. It was a hike to get their. Having visited several masque this week, it was pretty basic. Our trip planner said, “it is the biggest door in Asian”. Not sure that was true, but we witnessed some cool religious music and goats scaling the steps of the temple. It was a long day with exhaustion playing a major role in our apathy.
Tomorrow, we will adventure back to Delhi to “play Holi”, the major Hindu holiday that started Wednesday with the color powders and ceremonies to Krishna. Also, I am hoping to sneak in a museum.