Arrived in Agra today, saw Fatehpur Sikri, then the Agra Fort from the outside (chose to skip going in since I’ve seen so many forts in the last few days), and finally the main course: Taj Mahal.
It is grand, the compound is large, there are the two smaller yet huge Mahals on either side, and the craftsmanship is superb.
But it has been exhausting. Hot heat during the day, regular sun directly on my now-darker skin, and hawkers left and right. Today I was solicited more than ever, and many people were exceptionally persistent. Until today, I did not get upset from these people trying to make a living, but in Uttar Pradesh solicitors take it to the next level.
Agra is pretty run down, and in dire need of a cleaning and rebuilding. Crowd management is poor, and if it weren’t for the Taj Mahal, I’m not sure I would have ever visited… But it was well worth the experience–an overall valuable and fun experience.
This all contributes to a larger narrative of an authentic India taking ideas from the west and making them their own within a sturdy tradition, while struggling to keep up with a large population and confined space. Wear and tear at an advanced rate compared to Western countries is expected when there are more people and less space.
My trip has been pretty good thus far, largely thanks to a supportive family all over, good drivers, good guide, an adventurous spirit, and God’s grace.
I break my plan to only post something scenic–read ‘without me’–with a picture of me and the Taj Mahal… Because that’s me and THE TAJ MAHAL!
Woke this morning, had breakfast at my good hotel in a run down city, then drove back to Gurgaon via the new private-run Expressway. It is a really nice highway similar (or even better on average) to our American interstate highways. It was mostly concrete and three lanes each way. After a smooth drive on the expressway, a slogging drive through Delhi traffic, I returned to my cousin’s house late afternoon.
I settled back in, and had a feast of a lunch (I fasted last night to help settle my stomach) that was fish curry, curried red beans, and green beans.
Than I got some work done on their WiFi, before the kids returned from the grandparents’. Managing the attention of two young girls and a puppy was a feat, but it was fun and I hope they remember me.
It was a good rest day of sorts.