Friday, December 2, 2011

India's Wonder of the World

You know how there are times that you look forward to something -- a trip, a graduation, a birthday -- and when it actually comes around you feel rather underwhelmed? I clearly remember looking forward to my twenty-fourth birthday and being rather depressed at the non-event that it was. The same can definitely be said of high school, undergrad, and law school graduations. You would think that by the third one, I would have learned that aside from the super-fabulous graduation robe, you don't turn into a different person because another day passes, even if it is a big one.

Perhaps the way to make sure this doesn't happen is to manage your expectations. But who wants to go through life always planning for the worst - guarding yourself against the underwhelming? Sometimes I just can't help but to romanticize certain events because they are just too big not to be exciting and memorable!
So as Jason and I entered the east gate (or the VIP gate, as our guide called it), I couldn't help but feel a tingly excitement creep in as I semi-listened to our guide talk about Taj history. My inner monologue went something like this:

"Stop talking, friend! Don't you know that I am here to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World!?! You can talk when we're inside." In hindsight, I think he did that on purpose. Screw managing expectations; he was building anticipation.

So let me just say, the Taj Mahal exceeds all expectations. In my opinion, it is one of those things to which neither words nor photos will do justice. It must be experienced. Put this visit on your Bucket List.

Agra, the nearest city to the Taj Mahal, on the other hand, is a complete and utter hell hole (in my humble opinion). We've spent a day and a half here, which is probably three-quarters of a day too long. We should have listened to my favorite yoga teacher's advice: Get in. See the Taj. Leave. Don't look back. The reason for the terribleness has a lot to do with the garbage that is strewn everywhere. I don't want to be culturally insensitive, but I just don't understand and cannot justify the piles of garbage that litter the city. Our guide in Del says that if we were to go inside the homes (grounds included) of the Indian people, we would find very clean homes, but that this cleanliness is just not valued outside their own home. I personally find this to be mind-boggling given that India is far less individualistic than we Americans. What's ironic is that I have not seen one person throw a piece of trash on the ground; whereas, I see loads of women with their witch-like brooms sweeping the roads. I don't get it.

This evening we will take our first and only train ride in India. It will also be our first time on a sleeper car. We arrive in Bandhavgarh tomorrow morning, which as far as I can tell is pretty much THE reason Jason planned a trip to India. Tigers, here we come!

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