Four rickshaws, one five hour car ride, and a short walk down a street filled with beggars and camels we found ourselves staring at one of the Seven Wonders of the World: the Taj Mahal. Built between 1623 and 1643, 20,000 workers slaved restlessly to create this master piece of a tomb. It is symmetrically perfect and the hand crafted design took years to perfect. It is an art that still today is passed down through the families, the very families that restore the Taj Mahal every Friday afternoon. Thus bringing me to my next point, those four rickshaws, and that five hour car ride to Agra wasn’t much of a price to pay for what we were most excited to see… but wouldn’t luck have it that the one day, the only day that we had sectioned out for northern India of Delhi and Agra was of course a Friday. Meaning, that the only day in our entire lives that we could travel to India to see the Taj Mahal, it would be closed. How ironic.
Naturally, upset, angry and frustrated our feelings changed instantly when we were able to see the Taj Mahal from across the river. Granted it wasn’t the most pristine view, but it was so much closer than I would have ever imagined us to be in the given circumstances.
Kalee and I took turns taking the classic tourist pose… holding out our arms to make it look like we are holding the tip of the Taj Mahal, and jumping in yoga poses. The Taj Mahal was extremely beautiful, regardless of how we saw it or when we saw it. (Pictures will come soon)
TIP: If you can, make sure you view the Taj Mahal at sunrise, sunset and moonlight… it changes colours.
After a local lunch, of Tandoori and Nan, which was delicious, we visited Agra Fort. This quite possibly was our first real cross cultural interaction with the locals. They would just stare at Kalee and I. They would nudge their friends, and point to us, smile at us, follow us around and take pictures of us before they got enough courage to ask us to take pictures with them. Some people on the boat were annoyed by this, got offended, started fights asking the locals to delete the pictures, but I was more flattered than anything. My theory is this: when I see Asian people back home, I don’t stare at them or ask to take pictures with them, but if I saw a Geisha on the streets of Toronto, I would stare and point at her, no questions asked. So therefore, I must look like a Geisha to them. It’s a strange logic, but it comforted me. (Pictures with countless locals will come soon)
The day in Agra ended happily at a local restaurant at the side of the road where our driver had to help us order and communicate with the locals. We were the first tourist visitors to this outdoor restaurant. It was in between trees and bushes that were all strung with lights. Our driver made sure our food was cooked, and our water was bottled so that we wouldn’t get sick. We spent the rest of the evening talking with our driver about his culture and his home, trading stories and learning.