Monday, June 8, 2009

June 1st: One week to go.

Internet in Bhinder has been sporadic at best these last couple of weeks which is the reason for the large gap in information.

The last weekend bore witness to one of the most historic moments of our trip thus far. We spent one bumpy night on a sleeping bus (passengers and drivers) to Agra and we were glad to make it there in one piece! The consensus is that Agra is a silly place and that the train is a much better way to travel than the bus. However, despite the loud honky drivers, expensive fares and dirty streets, the view of the Taj Mahal made this trip well worth our time. We visited the Taj at 6:30am in a torrential downpour which made for a unique and most needed experience, it was quite the sight. While tourists fled to the confines of the intricately carved marble domes for shelter some of our group preferred to frolic in some of the first rains of the monsoon. When inside the main chamber the echoed prayers and hushed voices bounce around the dome creating a soothing sound for listening ears walking on smooth aged marble floors. We also had the privilege of seeing the Taj from across the river at sunset where we all sat along the banks watching flowers float by and children splash in the murky waters.

The rest of the day was spent frequenting bazaars, getting lost, cooling off in malls and visiting the only McDonalds ( not a good idea for some in hind sight....the Chicken Maharaja didn't go over too well). One entertaining aspect of Agra is the species of wild monkey who roam the streets eating the power cables and tearing down brick walls. In the city with a large group and limited Hindi language skills our carefully picked auto-rickshaw drivers proved quintessentially useful. In addition, Charles L. eagerly flagged down goods carriers which are essentially small pickup trucks which were happy to cram us in the back and ferry us wherever we desired even through dodgy police roadblocks for the right price!

The journey home was a long journey indeed but time passed fast because of our ingenuity. On the 12 hour sleeper class train we put on an all night original train party complete with Bollywood classics blaring on speakers and matched dancing much to the delight of everyone in the 6 surrounding cars. Needless to say we met so many people who were more than happy to shove food down our throats, take our pictures and introduce us to their entire extended families ( some even invited us to their homes) . We arrived as one very sleepy team in Chittorgarh at 4am in the morning where we parked ourselves on the pavement outside, along with an army of sleeping locals until our fantastic driver Sundar rescued us and drove us to a hotel for breakfast and naps. Chittorgarh is home to the largest fort in Rajasthan and Asia built by the Mauryans in 7th century AD. We spent the morning climbing the crumbling walls of the remaining grand palaces and visiting the various marble temples within its all encompassing walls. It was well worth the visit and the sleepy arrival time to see such marvels.

With one last week of work we bid ya'll adieu.
Over and Out
Ciara and her trusty assistant Ben