Saturday, January 17, 2015

Hijacked Edition: I'm in INDIA!

Camel butt including camel diaper.
I'm in India! And I'm hijacking this this blog because I'm too lazy to start a new one for this trip and, well, you all already know it's here. Besides, India is much more exciting then my dating life right now.

We're not in Alberta anymore, R'lyeh. ( Wizard of Oz reference. No, my dog is not with me.)

Things I have learned in the past 24 hours in India:

1. I look like a Bollywood actress, apparently.

 I've heard exactly that twice in the last 24 hours. First from a guy who was 'helping' us out the night we arrived. (More on why there are quotations later.) And once from a tuk tuk* driver earlier this evening.

Maybe that's why people keep staring at me.

Women stare at me. Men stare at me. Children stare at me. No one is shy about it. They stare to the point that their heads turn nearly all the way around as they walk past. I was told this would happen. I thought I was prepared for it. I was not. I try to ignore it.

2. My body functions fairly well when running on no sleep for 31 hours. 


 My brain, unfortunately, does not.  People will  and do take advantage of that.

The aforementioned helper (refer to lesson # 1 ) was one of those people. To make a long story short, neither mine nor my brother's brain was working when a cab driver told us we could not get to our hotel because the road was closed.

Why was it closed?

Because Barack Obama is coming to visit (true) and there have been threats to his security ( could be true. Hard to verify but not unbelievable. ) so the police have closed some streets completely to everyone and one of those streets is where my pre-booked hotel is located ( I guess that's believable. The hotel is in a popular area of Delhi ). And all the hotels in Delhi are completely booked up unless I want to spend the equivalent of 500$ a night ( wait a second, that's a little fishy sounding, but ok ).

So, the cab driver took us to a " tourist information center " open at 1 am. ( Really?! Brain? Does that makes any sense? )

Long story short, the guy there got us a hotel room in Agra and arranged a driver to take us there, drive us around and get us back to Delhi for our flight to Kashmir for a great low price! (Now that I think of it, my brain must have completely switched off by this point. The price isn't bad, if I was in Canada!)

The kicker? Obama isn't going to be in Delhi until January 27!

Thanks Obama and thanks brain.

3. The Taj Mahal is an elaborate set of four tombs.

I'm completely serious. Shah Jahan built what is commonly refered to as the Taj Mahal ( the white dome building ) to honour his third (or second, depending on who you talk to) wife, Mamtaz Mahal, but there are three other tombs in the complex. One for each of his other three wives. And all four tombs is what is actually the Taj Mahal. The more you know!

Why did one wife get an elaborate, white marble tomb with precious stone inlay and white and black diamonds ( which the British stole when they arrived. What jerks! ) ensconced in the ceiling?

Because he loved her the most.

Why did he love her the most?

Because she gave birth to 14 children!!! The last of which killed her and only 6 survived beyond infancy.

To recap. To get a man to really really love you, have lots of babies, make sure most of them die and then make sure the final one kills you.

Cynicism about true love and having babies to please a man aside, the Taj Mahal is truly a beautiful place to visit. Pictures do not and could never do it any true justice. The architectural design of it is a wonder. The domes rely purely on weight and angles to stay up as here are no pillars or beams holding them. It's main building is pure white marble that came from a quarry 450 km (please don't quote me on that exact number) from Agra and was brought by elephants and camels (careful, they spit!). There are carvings and precious stone inlays that were all done by hand. It took 22 years to complete and I would imagine most of that time was spent inlaying the precious stones are carving the ornate decorations on the walls.

This! This is what I'm talking about.
OH! and the architect that designed the buildings had his thumb and forefingers on each hand removed after completion so he could never make anything more beautiful.** I was assured that he was paid very well, well enough that six generations of his descendants lived quite well off the money. Those descendants still work with marble and precious stones and we were able to visit their shop and see how it was done. It's a very simple process but very precise.

I couldn't do it. Imagine spending hours upon hours (we're talking days here!) getting a precious stone ground down to the perfect size and shape you want just to have it break at the last moment. I'd Hulk smash every thing at that point.

I also bought some work from this shop. ( A set of six marble coasters ) My brother thinks I got ripped off. I think the price I paid for them was fair ( under 60$ CDN ) I think we have differing ideas of what ripped off means.

4. The drivers here drive like I drive in GTA:5. 

No joke. The only difference is that they are better at avoiding accidents and pedestrians then I am, and they drive on the opposite side of the road.

They also don't shoot random bystanders for fun.

From what I can tell, the only rule is to honk your horn often so everyone else knows you're there.

What an amazing place!!! Even if you include the getting a bit ripped off ( Yes, I know you warned me and yes, I've learned my lesson. )

* tuk tuk = auto rickshaw. If you don't know what a rickshaw is, google it. In fact, you can even google tuk tuk. So the asterisk is really not needed, but I'll leave it anyway.

** note to self and anyone else who wants to take note: Never do something so well for someone ( especially someone who can have your fingers chopped off ) that people don't want you to do better. Always stay slightly below that level of awesome. )


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