I was so excited for Saturday to come. I was not so excited for the 4.15am departure. I was thrilled to be seeing another of the World’s Wonders. I was not thrilled it was pouring – torrential downpour would be more accurate – for our journey there, which meant flooded roads and extra insane driving.
Though we had a four hour drive to Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal, I was never bored. There was a vast new landscape to take in, people and animals everywhere and the weather – oh the weather!
There were people out everywhere. I was overcome by determination of the people riding their bikes through the flood, plastic bags on their heads to protect them – yet whenever a vehicle passed they got drenched. I cringed each time it was us soaking them. A man holding an umbrella over him and the driver of the motorcycle they were on. A man holding an umbrella over himself as he squatted beside the railroad tracks for his morning ‘dump’. Women were getting soaked crossing streets through knee high water. There were cows wandering about and dogs searching for food. When we’d stop there would be kids with monkey’s trying to get money by having their monkey’s do tricks and the really with lucky kids were selling the umbrellas – on that day!
We arrive and all the different people working there see ‘WHITE PEOPLE’!! We are swarmed at our cars by drenched Indians. Umbrellas, camel rides, Taj snow globes, elephant figurines, golf cart rides and snacks – it was a sea in front of our car. We needed all of it according to them! Our friends back home and ohhh the kids in our life would loooove a little snow globe! Such good salespeople the kids are – so smart with their remarks, smiles and huge brown eyes looking up and you pleading.
We finally get into the Taj Mahal and it is breathtaking. It took twenty-two years to be built. A Muslim king in the sixteen hundreds built it to fulfill his dying wife’s wishes. She died from having fourteen children in eighteen years – her wishes were: for him to take care of her babies, for him to never marry again because she could not share him and for him to build a heaven on earth for her. Boy, is it a heaven – all handcrafted, nothing is painted on – it’s all cut out of different colours of stone and then the white marble is carved out to fit the piece…. The descendants of those men, who built the Taj, still live on the property and do the maintenance. The craft is still passed down from grandfather to son to grandson.
It’s all quite overwhelming, and then my camera crashes to the ground…. smash. Not operable anymore (side note: thank you annoying salesman at Best Buy who blabbed and blabbed so I finally bought the extended warranty), but life goes on. You would think I’d be freaking at this point. I was handing my camera to our tour guide to take a picture of me holding the top of the Taj and poof – he dropped it. I picked it up, everyone around gasping in horror and holding their camera’s a little tighter, and pushed the zoom back in, saw if it would turn on – nope – so put it away and went up to have my picture taken by someone else’s camera! What am I going to do start crying?
That night I went and bought the same camera at a shop here – it’s gold though, perhaps I’ll have better luck with it?! Yes I didn’t feel like spending the extra money, but who really gives a beeeep.
Then the next morning I wake up to a phone call from one of our coordinators telling us our flight was cancelled, we tried to get on the other flight – no luck. So just had a twelve hour drive up to Palampur, not super comfy or enjoyable, but life goes on.
Twenty hours of driving and a smashed camera in the past two days, but I smiled and laughed my way through it and figure unlucky me will probably be leaving soon…. Calm, cool and collected Unlucky Me.