"Are you going to the Taj?” “What are your plans for India?” I got asked these questions a lot before arriving in India on March 1. I was overly excited to be in India for 6 days. Feverishly writing in my journal, I jotted down the things I hoped to explore.
I discovered more than I had anticipated. I was not able to define India before, and I am still not able to define it. I have had many discussions with others about our experiences, but the word, “confusing,” sticks in my head. I cannot wrap my head around the few concepts and situations I encountered. The movie Slumdog Millionaire is a good representation of my journey.
I began by spending a whole day in Cochin, India. My friends and I arrived to the markets in a tuk tuk, a common form of transportation. Kelly, Carolyn and I got saris to wear to dinner the first night. It was hard choosing which fabric I wanted, but when I saw it, I knew I had to have it. To add to the cultural experience, we got henna tattoos. Each one of us got a different design. Walking along the streets, I found the colorful powder used for Holi, the festival of colors celebration. A local man drew a flower on my hand with the hot pink powder. Sweating from the extreme heat and constant bargaining, we headed back to the ship to prepare for our four day, three night trip in Jaipur, Agra and New Delhi.
In Jaipur, I visited a local market, Amber Fort, City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Jaipur Foot. I took a train to Agra where I saw Mother Teresa’s orphanage, Agra Fort and Taj Mahal. After, I took another train to New Delhi. I saw Humayun’s Tomb, Old Delhi (Jama Masjid, Gurudwara Sis Ganj and Jain Temple), India Gate and government buildings such as embassies.
Being on the go, it was a lot to digest in four days. In between all the site seeing, I witnessed slums, pollution and begging. For me, it was an emotional rollercoaster. What I had previously heard or read about was happening right in front of me. Scenes from the book I finished the day before my arrival in India, behind the beautiful forevers, came to life. I saw the characters in the eyes of the people I passed.
As I tell you about my journey, it, too, seems unreal to me. I am still shocked I had the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal. It was the highlight of the trip! Although it is under construction, it is still beautiful. The architecture is outstanding. I love the marble. I was not aware people were allowed to go inside. We did! This made the experience even more memorable. Now, when I see the Taj Mahal in photos or movies, I know exactly what it looks, feels and smells like. The landscape is unique and well-kept too. By far, this is my favorite of the two 7 Wonders of the World I have visited.
And, this is my favorite Asian country so far. Even though traffic is chaotic in these countries, I am comfortable with it now. It was funny when our bus or tuk tuk had to stop on the road and wait for either a dog, horse, cow, goat, pig or camel to cross the road. This scene became more casual as the days went on. Most of the animals are domesticated. It is easy to tell. They either have a collar or leash attached to them. Both domesticated and non-domesticated animals feed on the trash throughout the towns.
This voyage has been incredible, and I cannot wait to see what else the world has to offer.
Enjoy the photos ☺
Cee at Sea