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Agra

and the Taj!!

sunny 34 °C

Written on July 1st...
Let's start with the scoop on my memory card:
I think it F'd...It has a virus (Trogan "Generic"), which isn't cleanable according to AVG and McCafee...I'm sure (I hope) something can be done, but it'll require some serious downloading and rebootig in safe mode and stuff, which exceeds my comfort zone on PC, on top of being a hassle in a "not so fast Internet" country...I think I'll simply buy a new memory card and send this one to Levis (hehehe!) for him to work his magic...
Stupid me however, I used it today when visiting the Taj Mahal...I can see those pics on the camera at least, so I hope to at least be able to retrieve those on a PC!...Ahhhh, the joys of technology....

On a brighter note, I visited the Taj Mahal today, which was ABSOLUTELY ABSOLUTELY ABSOLUTELY gorgeous!!!! Whoever said that you saw the same thing as you see on the pics lied or mossed out on a great experience!!! It's much better in real life than on any picture!!! I took the services of a guide as I remembered the feeling of "I'm missing something here" in Angkor Wat, and it made the world of difference! (even more worth it at 150R negotiated down -almost without me trying- from 275R). He explained the history and pointed out details (endless details which I would have never noticed but made the experience that much more enjoyable) and knew all the great "pic spots" (which I'm not currently able to retrieve on a PC! 8:::(
Many many pieces are carved out of solid marble, there are endless flowers all made of semi-previous rocks from all over the world. there is symetry in everything (i.e. the number 22 comes back often, 22000 people to built it, 22 years to be built, 22 is a very important number with the Muslim religion -of which the builder of the Taj was a devout practitioner- (I think the age Allah or Mohammed died). There are 22 little domes at the top if the main gate, which are aligned perfectly, 22 steps up to the main floor (steps carved from a solid block of marble), etc etc etc. The distance betwen the towers (can't remember the correct name") is 312 feet, which is the number of soldiers Mohammed had in the first battle for religion (or something like that). Everything is perfectly lined up, arches within arches, domes within domes, the water features and main entrance are perfectly lined up with the tomb of the wife for who the Mogul built this temple (his 3rd wife, who gave him 14 children -6 survived-, as his two previous wives hadn't given him any kids). There were many architects, from as far as Rome, but mostly muslims from Turkey. Litterally, it seems that every single stone has a purpose and a reason! It was a totally amazing experience!! There are also many optic illusions, for i.e: from the main gate, as you look through the arat it from a certain point (in the center - obviously!) , you can see a little of the Taj, as you walk forward, it seems to move back and back until you make it to the archway where you can see it all in it's glory! How cool!
This was clearly a highlight of my trip so far and I agree that it should remain part of the 7 wonders of the world!

I would have really liked to share some pics with you, but I will as soon as I get them, even if it's upon my return home.

On a different topic, the trip TO Agra was quite interesting in itself! Hehehe, I don't know what it is with me, but I seem to attrack all the "lone Westeners" who haven't talked to another westener in ages.
SO I met this 40yrs old Russian Hare Krishna devotee at the bus stand (hehehe). I didn't know he was Hare until we boarded the bus (it was an overnight, 8pm to 8am) and the bus driver chanted "Hare Hare Krishna Krishna"!! I was like ??? The bus left almost an hour late (as usual), so we chatted for a while and he ended up (to my great dismay and not so happiness!) switching seats (he had a GREAT seat, right at the front, which means that no one leans over you with their seats, so much more space) to sit beside me! I was so tired from walking around Rishikesh all day and not sleeping too well for the past 2 nights, yet he talked my ear off for most of the trip. It was mostly a 1-way conversation, as for one he would really let me talk much (and I didn't really want to anyway), so I ended-up just "mono-sylabbing" with my eyes closed. On two occasions, I had to pretend to be sound asleep (which I wasn't far off anyway) for him to shut him up!!! He has been in India for 4 years, after being arrested for trafficking of some drugs (offence which he was innocent of course!!) and spending 3.5 months in jail (which he said was more like kindergarden than anything else -but then again, he's Russian - different standards! hehehe). It actually seems like he was innocent, but what do I care really. So anyway, we arrived to a town called Mathura (birth place of Krishna) where this guy lives in an Ashram. The bus stopped there and it turned out that I didn't have a way to Agra (60km away from Mathura - so approx 2-3hours on regular bus) (I bought a ticket to Agra but ended up in Mathura! great! first time I officially got screwed - that way- in India), so he offered to drive me with his car(!!!!) I was like hmmm no, thanks, but he was really insistent. He said he would at least give me a ride to the bus stand (in the riskshaw) so I agreed to that. We ended-up stopping at a Krishna temple. I was made a little more comfortable with the fact that he was very well known by his fellow - I'll call them weirdos! hehehe- so I agreed to let him drive me to Agra (in his car). The ride was uneventful, except for the -once again- wonderful wonderful display of Indian inguinity! GE must have got their "Imagination at work" slogfan from India! MUST!!
SO it turns out that all the cars here don't run on regular gas (well they do, out of the manufacturer), but rather on propane (like for a BBQ!!) Indians rig their cars to run on "cheap" propane and well as "expensive" petrol. They essentially have hybrid card, home-made, with a switch to switch from one fuel to the other!!!!! hehehe, I had no idea that was even feasible!!!!
On the topic of imagination at work, I forgot to mention a funny incident which happened in Spiti. On our last day, we came to a second road block, where a truck had lost it's rear axel and was blocking the road. We got there approx 1.5 hours after it happened and a crane was hard at work digging through the dirt (luckily the "accident" happened where the road was between approx 4 feet high of dirt - up mountain- (at least not hard rock as it was so often) and the usual steep cliff down. People (westeners) who were there since early on said that they initially thought that the crane was there to tow the truck, but no, it instead went about enlarging the road beside the truck! hehehe it you can't move the truck, more the road!!! hehehe Imagination at work!
Cheers!

Posted by Mistrale 09:06 Archived in India

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