Sunday, August 14, 2011

To the Taj and back

First full view of the Taj Mahal made my jaw drop. Pictures do not do justice, and the more you learn about the articulate details and how brilliantly it was made makes it even more miraculous! A few things that I learned about the Taj Mahal;
*The Emperor (Mughal) made it for his wife who passed away giving birth to their fourteenth child.
*It took 22 years to build and over 1,000 elephants were used.
*It is completely symmetrical (Minus one part- his tomb- which was added after his death by his daughter next to his mothers tomb)
*Each of the four towers is leaning a few degrees outward in case there was cause for them to fall, then they would fall away from the main part. 
*The emperor attempted to build a black replica on the other side of the river but when his corrupted son took over and destroyed it. 

It was such an amazing thing to learn about and see. About an hour and a half after we were there, it started to downpour. Most of the people rush under cover but a few of us that aren't used to the rain enjoyed playing in it for quite some time. After about a half hour the rain turned into a light sprinkle and the rest of the people came out from hiding. Before we could even get down from the Taj, it started pouring again so hiding from it previously was useless. A few of us there were continuously being photographed or asked to be in photos with, well, mostly local males is what it seemed to be. It was flattering though, and I'll admit a little bit fun. I imagine that's just a scratch of what its like to be famous and I don't think that I would enjoy that lifestyle but it was fun to get a taste of it. Some people would practically throw their babies in our arms to have their child in a photo with and and others would just take pictures of us while we were walking or talking to each other. I'm sure thats pretty common with any of the "white" people there but it was very new to us. 
After the Taj Mahal we went to Agra Fort. Still pouring, we walked around and toured the fort. It reminded me of a castle because you walk in on a draw bridge and over what used to be a moat. The place itself was beautiful and so historic. You can see the Taj Mahal from the fort actually, and it was were Emperor Mughals son, held him prisoner but, at least he got to look at it. (When his eyesight started to get poor, is daughter brought him a giant diamond that actually magnified the Taj so that he was able to see it) It was really a cool place to be and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I was going to. 
After that we went back to the hotel and got dry clothes to change into, went to the Taj Mahal restaurant, changed, ate amazing food (fried chicken rice and naan) and then went shopping. Shopping there was so much fun! We went to a pretty nice mall, just like back in the U.S. but the stores had sari's and chudidhars... And McDonalds! Where I got fries and an ice cream cone. Taste absolutely normal and incredible! The hotel we were staying at was incredible and I felt super risty being there but it was a lot of fun. I have never met people that were so incredibly nice than I have at the hotels in India. Well in India in general, So so nice! 
On our drive back to the Delhi airport the next morning, our bus broke down. What we understood that one of the pipes broke and was leaking gas. This is what I wrote about it while I was on the bus at that time:
So right now we are on the bus coming back from Arga back to Delhi and.... we ran out of gas. We are stopped on the side of the road right now, after being pushed off the road. A lot of people have crowded around our bus and their is one lady who keeps banging on the side our bus, begging. That got annoying really quickly. There are two boys right outside of my window right now staring at me... putting up their phone asking for my number and staring and laughing when I when I wave at them. The car is still off, apparently one of the gas pipes is broken and they went and got gas! We opened the top vents and everyones imagination keeps us full of funny comments. We aren’t going to be able to stop at the lotus temple and we are hoping that we are going to be able to ride the camels and elephants still. And hoping that we don’t miss our flight. It feels like a sauna in here. SO hot!! 

Me not knowing where exactly where to sit

After about an hour, our bus was fixed, and not even ten minutes down the road, we were at the place to ride camels and elephants. I rode a camel because I know that I will have many opportunities in Thailand to ride elephants and who knows when I'll be able to ride a camel again. It was just like riding a giant horse that never went faster.. but it was really run. There were monkeys and it was all fun then back on the bus and a few more hours to the airport. We got back to the campus a little while after midnight sunday night. It was such a fun trip but it was good to be back. I missed the kids so much and we were all so ready to get back to  working and bucket showers!!                                                   

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