28 March 2011

India II

After spending one day thoroughly enjoying Chennai, I headed with a large group of students to the airport to start our adventure to New Delhi, Agra and the Taj Mahal.

Rule #1 in India:  No liquids allowed in hand-baggage on Indian airlines.

This rule lead to some pretty interesting situations with checked baggage.  How can students accumulate liquids while traveling for only 2 days?  I just don’t understand. 

Rule #2 in India:  Counting is an important skill.

I felt a bit like a summer camp councilor during our two night trip to Delhi and Agra.  I must have counted to 44 (the total number of students on our trip) a million times over the 3 days we were together.  It was nice that we were all on one bus, but it was also a pain to count everyone, every time.  But, we left no one behind and we came back with everyone in one piece and healthy, which is more than can be said for other trips.  I will say, however, that all of the students were great, and apart from a few issues of waking up in the morning, were fun to be with for the entire trip. 

Rule #3 in India:  See the Taj Mahal at different times during the day.

I got to see the Taj Mahal, not just once, but TWICE!  It was great.  We traveled to Agra by bus, after our train was massively delayed.  The bus ride ended up being better than the train ride would have been anyway and we were able to make it to Agra by midnight, rather than the train’s final arrival time of 4am the next morning.  We were able to grab a few hours of sleep at our fabulous hotel before heading out to see the Taj Mahal, or simply the “Taj” as it is known to Indians, at sunrise.  The pink hues of the sky were mirrored by the brilliant white marble of the Taj.  The local red sandstone of the other buildings on the site also glowed in the early morning light.  The best part, however, was that there was virtually nobody there.  It was like having the place to ourselves. 

That afternoon, we headed back to the Taj to view the site at sunset.  It was great to get a second chance to explore the site, which I find rarely happens on trips like this.  I got the chance to view such an important Indian Monument at two very different times of day, and in two very different moods – which can change your entire reading of a structure or space. 

Rule #4:  Bring and Take Pepto-Bismal.

This is important, and should be self-explanatory.  Indian food is great, however, when your stomach is not used to spices and new types of veggies, it can be deadly.

Rule #5:  Take the Auto-Rickshas.

They look dangerous, and most definitely are, but boy is it an experience you will never forget.  Taxis are great, efficient and cheap, but are too tame for adventurous hearts. 

Rule #6:  Just go with the flow and try to blend India.

You will never truly be a local, at least not yet, but it is great to try.  India has so much to offer.  So much to see and experience, there really seems to be nothing worth trying, worth getting involved in.  Whether shopping, eating, exploring, bartering, traveling, touring, just remember to always enter with your right foot and always try to eat with your right hand, its just easier that way. 

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