I’m beginning to understand why our hotel wifi password is “Grand Theft Auto…” Because Delhi drivers think they are playing this video game in real time. We arranged for a driver, which we later found out has some serious road rage for a day trip out to Agra. It takes a good 3 hours to get there via the expressway and he first takes us to the back side of the Taj Mahal. This is clearly the “wrong side of the tracks” or in this case, “the wrong side of the river.” This view is complete with barbed wire. Not far from this vantage point is a community of people who recycle fabric and clothes for a living.
They wash, dry, mend them, and resell them. My camera was loving it. We finally make our way to the Taj Mahal and it’s as impressive as you would imagine. Here people were taking pictures of us, wanted us to take pictures of them, or wanted to be in pictures with us, so somewhere in the world I may be someone’s girlfriend on facebook and Rick may be someone’s best friend.
Of course it can’t be a tour without scamming you into some sort of shop where they want to dive into your wallet. They of course never tell you this and before you know it, you find yourself corralled into an artisan shop, sipping chai, learning about pietra dura, in the dark with a flashlight viewing how light passes through different stones, being shown all sorts of marble items which are probably the worst items you could buy as a backpacker. Yes, I’ll take a 10 pound marble table top please. I have plenty of room and it’s easy on the back. When you try your best to kindly say you are not interested you are lead onto another floor of the building with textiles. Sari. No thanks. Oh but wait, there’s one more room with postcards and magnets and things of that nature. How many rooms does this building have??? I am beginning to feel like a mouse lost in a maze.We finally escape and we were exhausted by now and still had the 3 hour ride home. Which by the way, included an incident where our driver got out of the car in the middle of the road to accost a motorcyclist and I thought they were going to throw down right there in traffic. He got back in the car without a word and we Grand Theft Auto’d all the way home. Seat belts fastened. Taj Mahal. Check.