- Delhi & Agra, India
Hello out there!
Well, we have been three now for awhile, adding
voyager, T Augustus aka T. We met him at the Delhi Airport
and there we had another Indian first. You have to
a ticket for the waiting area. But, we picked him out the crowd,
fresh off the plane. Of all the places to land on your first day out...
tangle of wires seemed a disaster waiting to happen.
is not a very
pleasant city. It is the second most polluted city in
the world and these days its 95 degrees with 100%
humidity. You know its bad when your sweat turns
You can practically cut the haze with a knife. Delhi, much like
Mumbai has become a magnet for rural people hoping for a better life.
They crowd into urban slums and live hand to mouth. They ever
increasingly presence taxes the city infrastructure to its very limit.
Just looking overhead, gives you an idea.
The rickshaws are insane here. We finally braved a
new form of transportation in the Indian street mess-
the cycle rickshaw! Think the front half of a bike
a seat and then a large cushioned seat with a parasol
over it. It is just big enough for two if you overlap
legs. It definately is hard manual labor and at first
we balked at taking one. It just didn't feel right to
have a guy biking our two butts around. But then we
realized a cold hard fact about India. If they don't
have customers, they don't eat, literally. These guys
are sadly enough just above the lowest rung on the
ladder. They live on the streets, sleeping in their
rickshaws, then they pedal for food during the day.
And in India, thats pretty good, compared to the
multitudes of beggars on the streets.
With this new addition, now the streets are an
mess of Auto-rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, big tata
trucks, run-down cabs, pedestrians, moto-scooters,
bicyclists and livestock. There has got to be a video
game here. You pick your mode, then off you go on the
death-defying obstacle course. If we are harping on
this, it is because every ride is an out-of body
experience. Just the other day, our rickshaw sent a
moto-scooter off skidding down the road on his side.
See- you get ten points for that!
Ever since getting to India, everyone has an idea
ethnicity Ann is. They continually stop and ask me "Konichi Waa?"
the point and walk up and say
"Korean, Chinese, Japanese?"
In Delhi, we got into a rickshaw and told the driver
take us to the Tibet House, a small museum. Well
the usual banter about taking us to a government
emporium or his friends store, he pulled up to the
Japanese Information Center with a pleased look on
face. When we asked why we were here and not at Tibet
House, he looked directly at Ann and said,
"You Japanese, you go Japanese Information
The lone bright spot in Delhi was the great dive we
ate at regularly. It's called the Light Restaurant but it's pronounced it Ligget. The place serves incredibly
tasty and spicy vegis in big pots by the side of the
street. Each day, you come in and have them lift the
lids off and look inside and point at what looks
good. And you cant beat the price. A full meal for 20
cents. You just slop up the tasty grub with mounds of
chapatis, fresh off the grill. And they do a mean
our trip to Agra was both a highlight and a lowlight in our visit to the
area. Never more so than in Agra, when you look to one side, you see the
most beautiful thing you could have imagined, then you look to the other
side and you see the darkest thing, more tragic than you could have ever
Taj Mahal was one of those iconic monuments of modern civilization that
refuses to fit in a postcard, a few trifling words, and everyone's
expectations. It has been reproduced so many times as to render it
insignificant, until one confronts it in person. It was, indeed, far
better than I could have imagined it. And nothing could have diminished
the experience of it. Even the realization that the interior was nothing
to see, merely an empty marble box, was hardly disappointing, as the
surface of the box was so intricately detailed as to render it
infinately fascinating. But the most spectacular thing about the Taj,
was the tricks it played with your eyes, how it seemed to hover just
above you sightline. It appeared a mirage, shimmery in its brilliance.
It is not to be missed.
Well, we are glad to leave this city. From here we
traveled to Agra to catch a glimpse of the eighth
wonder of the world, the Taj Mahal up close and
personal, but that's another email.
Over and out
ann and doug
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