Agra4 | bellsandtrance's Blog
Subject: Agra 4
Population 2 million. 100km from Delhi.
After an even worse train journey than the first upgraded air conditioned one (no pesky porter this time thank Shiva) we headed off into the streets of Agra. I must say our travel agents look after us very well and not once have we felt endangered or exposed. We are driven around and escorted everywhere.Agra is a very smelly place the traffic is crazy but not like Varanasi. They say there are three rules for driving in India. 1) good brakes 2) good horn 3)good luck. All the sewerage runs into the river Yamuna which is close to the city.....it smells like a toilet.
We spent the rest of the day chilling out at the hotel (very elegant) and it was a much needed rest.....once again we were witness to another Indian wedding....it's wedding season and all apparently.
This morning we watched the sun rise over the Taj Mahal .....what a beautiful and majestic building. The building is covered with semi precious stone inlay work and it is really just magnificent. It is 350 years old. The inlay work is very time consuming as they file each piece by hand until all the pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. A bit like stained glass. 12 percent of India is Muslim which means there are more Muslims in India than the whole of Pakistan......and they are very proud as " the Muslims gave India the Taj" they love to romanticize the building as the epitome of love but I am sure there are many people who suffered and died to build it.
The Agra fort is a way across the river from the Taj Mahal and is the biggest fort in India. It is 2 square kilometers and is built from red sandstone again ( am I sounding like a tour guide?) there are two palaces built within the fort, both are beautifully carved by hand. There is a lush garden in the centre. A very majestic place, you can actually feel how old it is.the Indian army still uses a wing for their soldiers..
We have all picked up a cold and coughing and sniffling is going all round...it's the train I'm telling you. The kids are getting really tired of having their cheeks pinched and photos taken, as everywhere we go they get photographed. People mean well though as I think they have never seen western kids before, but of course the kids don't understand.
The beggars and sales people are really rife. Anywhere you stop it takes about 2 minutes and they have spotted you. There are women and girls with babies who are very dirty, young boys trying to sell their junk. Even if you are sitting in the van they come and knock on windows and beg. I got some rupee coins which we have put in a little wallet I call it the alms bag....alms for the poor, as some people really look like they are suffering....we all give sometimes, but once you give everybody comes real fast and they all expect something too, sound familiar?
I have been trying to organize a SIM card for my iPad - ha ha, it's a long very cumbersome job. I have come to the conclusion that Indian people find it hard to say the word no. Yes most certainly madam you will get your SIM card...then nothing. Madam I will ask my dear friend in connection with your sim...then nothing. Most definitely madam I will try my level best to get a sim card arranged for you....then nothing. There is such a thing as Indian time just like African time.
Anyway we are all still having a great time in this country. A sense of humor and patience really helps, but our travel agents are top notch and everything is organized perfectly!
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