o the first thing today – the Taj Mahal. And what can I say – as soon as you walk in, forget all those movies and photos you’ve seen of this place. The reality, especially on a cool clear morning, is just of walking through the sandstone entry gate, looking through the darkened portal at the gleaming white dome, and spouting an expletive. This was my India moment, where I stood and shot photos and just shook my head and said “Wow…”
Strolled around it for a bit. Sat with JB on a bench and watched the parrots and chipmunks fight their eternal battle for lawn domination. It was just a glorious day before a wonder of the world. Yes, occasionally architecture can make our souls soar.
After this, a quick stroll down to a marble working factory. They were showing us tables, little round flat marble things with painted tops with Indian patterns. And after looking at them over, softened by a beer (the classic trader trick), I realized that our patio does need a table, and one of these (alone with a marble base, suitable for underlighting with an LED) would be marvelous. So, nearly two grand later, we’ve got ourselves an Indian table, something we can always remember our trip with. I’ll post it up once it comes in a couple of weeks.
Back to the rooms for a little rest – bought two pepsis from the downstairs bar and had to pay an exorbitant 500 rupees. As I walked up to the room, I calculated this out to be about four bucks a can, so shame on me for not checking beforehand. But that can be India sometimes – you can get screwed out of money before you even know it’s happened.
Of course, after $1800 for a patio table, $8 for cokes seems to be a quibble.
In the afternoon, we journeyed to the Mini-Taj, a prototype of the big dome, build shortly before. It was interesting – not the eyeball-bouncer of the big boy. The interesting thing came when we tried to leave – traffic was at a standstill and our bus was a mile away. So we crossed to road and huddled between the tiny shops, watching the traffic honk and smoke, with scooters whizzing by scant inches away. Finally we got our transport and went over to AgraFort, a sprawling red sandstone fortification looking out over the city. Climbed all over this place – even saw shell holes from the India Mutiny. Finally, back to the room for some emergency packing – we’re running for Khajuraho tomorrow and suitcases need to be out early tonight. So JB is currently loading hers with a snow shovel. She simply cannot travel light.
Okay, I promise, dirty pictures tomorrow!