Friday, December 5, 2008
Day 4---The Taj
It is Oct 3rd by my watch and I am exhausted. Amazing how one can be exhausted from doing absolutely nothing.
This morning Liz, Sheele, and I met in the lobby sometime just after 6am. We had booked a taxi to take us all to the Taj Mahal. I hadn’t seen it my first time in India because I was on this holier-than-all-things-tourist trip and frankly, I just wasn’t interested in the detour. But here I was again, with no real excuse not to go.
As we stood in the foyer preparing to go a woman approached us and asked if we were with the HHE trip. Yes, yes we were. Turns out it was Deb, the nurse practitioner from the Bay area who was joining our expedition. With some finagling we were able to arrange another cab so that we could go two by two to the Taj.
It was a long, sweaty, day in the taxi. Deb and I quickly hit it off and were equally puzzled by our frequent and unexplained stops along the way. I was happy to be back in dahl, raita, and naan heaven. The thin pink napkins that I swiped from every restaurant table to keep as emergency tp in my money belt were still available. The only difference was now, I wasn’t the paranoid 20 year old. I didn’t bother with tucking my money belt into my pants anymore, I liked the ‘bandit look’ as I called it—slung over one shoulder.
At the Taj things were insanely busy. An Indian holiday meant a line up that stretched half the length of a football field. People approached us, trying to sell their guiding abilities, Taj key chains, and postcards. We stood in line in the sweltering head of the day. The sun seemed to push the humid air down upon us, through the smog and smells of the city. At security I was turned away, having to go lock up my power bars and my ipod. Electrical equipment and food is not allowed. The others ventured on in, I walked to the nearby locker and handed over my things. Got back into the line and was then turned away again, this time for my book, “Three Cups of Tea”. Apparently certain books are not allowed onto the grounds either. The frustration at my impotence in the situation seemed to be compounded by the heat and random nature of my ‘contraband’ items.
Finally we were all in. We put the booties on over our shoes and padded along the stone walkways. Ok, I’ll admit. The Taj is a beautiful structure. It is quite phenomenal in fact. But I was now drenched in sweat, hypertensive from my line-up experience, jet lagged, and hungry. And now I was staring down the barrel of a 4h taxi ride back to Delhi.
Back in the cab my shirt front dried from the air-conditioning, my back and legs remained sweat-soaked I shivered back to the hotel, fell on my bed, and fell asleep.
Despite the long, dusty day I was glad that I went on the excursion. Tomorrow we meet first thing and I will finally have a better idea of what the next month is going to look like!