The sleep was extremely disturbing, cause as cute as the hotel was, the walls weren't! So all night footsteps in the hallway felt like footsteps in my head, which led to us waking up bleary eyed at 6ish. I decided to wear my HLS sweat shirt which I bought in Boston, since Boston cold can easily kick Agra cold's ass! Girls on a mission - we were dressed and ready to hit the road in less than fifteen minutes! It was Taj time baby!
As we reach the ASI office to buy tickets we get mobbed outside by rickwallas and tour guides speaking their best Englisss! We quickly duck inside the office, where I get my ticket for 20 bucks, and my poor traveler friends pay 750 bucks each for theirs. But on the flip side, they got a free bottle of water with theirs! Racism?! I thinkk so!
Its about a km walk from the ticket office to the Taj entrance, so we preferred walking, since we needed a warm up in the freezing cold anyway. Now the amazing thing is, you can see tiny parts of Taj from all over the walls, but you can only see the monument in all its glory as you cross that entrance, cause its elevated high over the ground on a stage like structure. They don't allow you to take ipods/phones/water all kinds of things inside, and give you these funny red coloured socks to wear over your shoes (you need to wear these as you go get closet to Taj, and go on stage - and it looks really funny cause everyone is wearing giant red shoes :D).
As we entered, and saw the monument in its entirety, I could hear myself sighing. The spectacular view of Taj kicked the Ranbir encounter finally out of my head. Its magnificence has a charm, and you perhaps need to be in love or something to see it. As I recall the view now, it makes me go *sigh* all over again. My last visit to Taj as a kid, was quite a waste cause I remember being awfully bored. I felt different this time. Maybe it had something to do with the melodramatic play last night, or someone who kept popping into my head while I was there, or the dreamy idolizing sorts I have become off late, who knows. I'm a walking talking question mark, with no answers for anything.
So we spent a long time around, soaking in the history, the amazing facts about it, clicking like a billion pictures of the monument, its reflections in water, the sunrise spectacle we decided it was time to have some fun. So we started following random Chinese travelers around to have a chat (they're always fun). One of the ladies while discussing Taj asked me where I was from. So, I rummaged through a list of countries before saying I'm from Canada. She looks at me, and goes like "Oh, that's so beautiful isn't it. I've been there. That's where LA is right?" I just quietly nod and walk off. Told ya!
Meanwhile, Betsy was having more fun clicking pictures with the village-cool-studs who were around in plenty. Then we started walking towards the entrance and got into the usual time to get crazy pictures stage, but not the "Hey! look look! I'm holding taj from the top" which has been done to death. I tried one licking the Taj, didn't quite work out, then Betsy managed to get a more decent one kicking Taj! Oh well, Shahjahan can turn in his grave. We realized we'd been wasting too much time chatting with random travelers and it was almost noon, time to eat something and hit the road for Jaipur!
As we started walking back towards the ticket office where our car was parked, we saw a bunch of cute guys across the road. I barely mentioned the words "hawt scandinavian dudes - 11 o clock" to Betsy, that I saw her run across the road towards em' saying " "hey! wait up - cute Indian bride for sale, who wants one" *Fuck me!!!* Now maybe I should explain her retarded behaviour, ever since she has landed in India, she had been on a husband hunt for me. This has ranged from chaiwallas - porters - watchmen who I always flatly reject, with good reason!! So, when she heard me call some guys cute, her excitement went OTT. Anyway they had good humour, which made it easy to get over the embarrassing moment. They were actually really nice, and after some exchanges about our awe of Taj, we all bid adieu. Phew!
I've been asked to concentrate more on advertising the food than the actual trip, so for all curious people, eat vicariously or try to. The lovely lunch previous day basically consisted of paneer nan and raita and ginger tea!! The lunch was simple, but the ambiance was what was lovely, not the food. We're sticking to two meals a day, early lunch and early dinner - travelers huh?! We however went for lunch today to a place called Taj restaurant something (yeah, everything in Agra has the word Taj attached to it, big fuckin surprise). The restaurant was really nice, and we decided to share two thalis. The thalis were ellaborate with several veggies, chicken curry, shahi paneer, chicken biryani lotsa papads etc. Once we were fed (read stuffed beyond measure), we just walked around the road a bit, and I saw a shop selling pethas, and remembered my mom's love for em. So, I got two boxes of the famous 'Agra ka pethas' packed for home, and we were good to go.
The drive from Agra to Jaipur is fantastic, with beautifully finished roads and we covered about 241 kms in four hours. We managed to enter Jaipur before it was even five, and that includes two tea stops.
As we got into Jaipur, and drove and drove around the city to reach our next 'lonely planet' recommendation "Sundar hotel guest house". Its quite away from city, and in a residential neighborhood. As we enter the hotel, I was hit by the same familiar sight of travelers-laptops-surfing-vagabond, where I feel instantly at home. The hotel is gorgeous! We have a HUGE room for 1250 bucks, and quite lavish to boot. Includes food, atleast breakfast as far as I know.
We were planning to meet a coupla girls in Jaipur from the Haridwar Orphanage who are working here, so we call em' and turns out they live right behind our hotel, in one of the houses. What are the chances. We all went out for dinner again to Pizza hut :P and treated the girls to a lovely dinner (pizzas + salads + desserts) before catching up with what's happening in their lives. One of them wants to come to Delhi and get a job there. Its so endearing to see how well the girls are doing in life! We drop the girls off to their PG, and return back to the hotel. The hotel lobby is full of all travelers returning after a busy day, surfing net, planning next destination. The girls retire to the room, and I just hang around to chat with this lovely new yorker I'd met before. She's leaving for jodhpur-jaisalmer day after.
As I'm back upstairs, contemplating, maybe I should join her and explore the Rajasthan I always long to see but never quite manage to. Maybe?!