Yesterday was a sad day, but lets keep moving. It's the best way to win.
We drove from Jaipur to Agra the night before, and though I'd heard horror stories about Agra from friends who'd been I actually found it a nice change of pace from the bustle of a government town like Jaipur (seat of the Rajasthan state government). After a visit to Fahtepur Sikri, an 15th century abandoned palace complex, we arrived at the Oberoi Amervillas. Our room had an unimpeded view of the Taj which made me realize that I'm actually on a honeymoon... with my mother. Hmmm.
The next day, after a short wait in mosquito infested air to get through the gate (note: bathe in bug repellent before heading out), we rushed into a breathtaking sight as the sun rose over the Taj. I was all prepped to be let down by the Taj - there are just too many superlatives that come with a description of the place. Nope. It's as amazing, peaceful, imposing, fragile, exceptional, and as beautiful as all the guidebooks, magazines, tourists (now me) gush.
We also went to the Red Fort of Agra later the same morning. As the Taj is beautiful, the Red Fort's history is fascinating. Akbar, Shah Jehan and his crazy, cruel son. Fun stuff.
Before I post the pics a few thoughts on my experience in India so far. India (warning ahead: tres cliche) is a place of emotions and senses and these are mine: noise, dust, yellow, red, brown, smiles, horns and honking, dilapidated buildings, respect, corruption, sad, modern, and very very happening. There are way too many people but everyone knows that. Driving here makes any other countries I've been driven in (cause lets be honest here, I'm way too western to drive in any country where the lines on the road are optional) seem like a model of German efficiency and rule following. I'm not saying anything new here, of course, but damn if it isn't mind-blowing to us tidy, rule-obeying North American drivers.
Many things I will not forget, but one really sticks with me - people are very optimistic about the future but no one, and I mean no one, seems to trust that the government will get it right, they all believe that corruption is a way of life in India. "They" being the ones I met. I found that dispiriting. Is balanced out, for me at least, with how much is going on. This is not a place that feels sorry for itself. Unlike a unhealthy chunk of Europe.
Enough of me and my opinions. Pictures!