Tuesday, March 29, 2011


In Varanasi, leaving for Darjeeling on a train tonight .  From Bagdogra/Darjeeling will fly to Delhi on the 4th for my flight home on the 8th.

Holi in Jaipur - I look kinda drunk but wasn't

There were little areas like this of people dancing but for the most part, the streets were empty.  Only women out on the street were foreigners (Indian women celebrate at home)

Nana and me.  He said he was 76 years old.  He doesn't have a black eye, it was some purple powder.

Elephant Festival - I couldn't get anywhere close to that dressed up ones so went over to the others.
Not sure exactly what it was about Jaipur but I didn't really care for it - could have been the hotel staff - although very friendly, never smiled; or the relentless rickshaw drivers and store clerks or maybe PMS and tired of travelling so in Agra I went to the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort. Fatehpur Sikri and the park on the other side of the river behind the Taj but otherwise stayed clear of any stores and stayed out of the tourist area completely, including hotel.

I arrived at the Taj at 6:30 am (already a line up to get in) and ran into some young people I met on the bus the day before, they invited me to come with them - they had a guide which means not standing in line for a ticket, although I didn't want a guide the no-line-up appealled to me so I said ok  (the sun was already up in the air at this point but this is the earliest they open).  The guide was a nice young man, not married yet but had met his bride to be 5 times in a restaurant, he didn't tell us anything I hadn't heard already and I questioned some of it ( so what else is new) but he knew all the picture spots and took some good pics of me (unfortunatley, at this hour of the morning I didn't look so good).  At the end of our tour there was some issue with the amount  - as I wasn't there to begin with I just listened - the guide was very sweet and just said "it's ok, money isn't that important.  It's important that you have a good time in India and come back one day" but his body language, his face and his voice reminded me of  someone who realizes they have really screwed up.

The other two left and I wandered around on my own for another hour, and of course the guide's words stuck with me. I know what you're thinking, and yes, I'm a sucker, especially for young men who are Nick's age.  I always ask myself, if this were Nick, how would I want others to treat him?  When I came out, the guide was sitting with his friends, he smiled and pointed in the direction the other two went.  I offered him some more money (just a few dollars), he declined but I insisted.  As I'm having my  breakfast down the street, he comes in "I don't want any bad karma, I want to give you back the money".  He tried to explain about the difference in price - something to the effect that he has to give the ticker providers a share of his tour fee and when we added the third person, they wanted more money from him.  Never knowing when I can believe someone or not, I told him to keep the money, it's not that much and to help someone who really needs it if he's worried about bad karma. He offered to pay for my breakfast, I declined, then he asked if I would like to come back to the Taj for sunset (the ticket is good for one entry only), he could get me in. When I phoned later in the afternoon, he said just have your ticket in hand and if they ask, you were at the lockers, I'll meet you just inside. When I got there, no one even asked to look at my ticket. So, I think we're even now and I was grateful to find out about coming back later in the day.

The temples at Khujaraho were beautiful, was only there for the day arriving in the morning and leaving at night. 
6:30 am

Quality of this pic is not that good but shows the detail that you don't see from a distance - all inlaid stone.  Back writing is onyx, flowers part - green is jade, orange is coral (or so the guide said)

Inlaid stone detail

Very hazy day.

This was in the afternoon - the pics of me on the Princess Di bench in the morning were not good so when I went back in the afternoon, the photographers were fighting (one was taking too long and there's no such thing as a line up to wait your turn) so I just decided to stand to one side. the cloud around the minaret on the left is my camera dust from holi got in my camera.

Tilt left - I think because of the time of year, the sunrsie/sunset wasn't in the best place for photos, but it was still quite pretty.  This is one of the minarets behind the Taj, along the river

Tilt left - Fatehpur Sikri had the most beautitul, delicate jalis, you still couldn't see in from the outside. Still trying to figure out how I can get one of these back to Canada.

Fatehpur Sikra - many of the buildings were entirely covered with carvings. You have to imagine silk curtains hanging and lots of cushions.

Khujaraho - there weren't many that were this explicit  (don't worry, I got pics of all of them). Kind of made me wonder if there was just one really naughty stone carver and they said to him after a couple 'ok, we'll use those, but no more like that'

Tilt left - Most of the carvings were up high, and not as big as I thought (from pics, had the impression that they were life size or a least a few feet but they were more between 8 - 18 inches)

Love you Bubba

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