Last weekend, July 10th-11th, I went to Agra, Uttar Pradesh, home of the Taj Mahal. Himanshu drove me on Saturday morning, and it took us about 3.5 hours to get there. By American standards, he's a crazy driver, but I'm getting more accustomed to how aggressively people drive here. Maybe it will encourage me to not be such a pansy when I'm driving in the States.
When we arrived to Agra in the afternoon, we visited Himanshu's friend, Bhavna, and her family. It was suggested that we save the Taj Mahal until Saturday since it was so hot, and the sites close at 5 PM. Instead, we visited Sikandra, the tomb of Akbar the Great.
Me at the front entrance, as is Muslim architectural custom preceding the tomb, at Sikandra.
Bhavna, Himanshu, and Me in front of the tomb.
As we were leaving, we saw some monkeys and a bunch of bananas lying around. So I took a banana to feed the monkeys (below).
The gray monkeys (I think they may be another kind of primate) are supposed to be well trained, but the orange-brown one that approached me are apparently wilder and more dangerous.
That evening Bhavna's parents invited us to dinner and to spend the night. The food was so delicious, and they were always concerned that it would be too spicy to me. Every time I finished something, they would put more on my plate. When I would motion that I didn't want anymore, they would ask if it was too spicy or if I didn't like it. I loved it, but I don't have an endless stomach.
Their house was beautiful with marble floors, modern kitchen, and two stories. They were very well off. Her father owned a shoe manufacturing and distribution company, I believe. I slept with Bhavna, and I was actually cold at night because she had an air conditioner in her room.
Her family was great company and very friendly. They were very interested in what I majored in and how much Hindi I had learned. They were extremely generous to Himanshu and me, feeding us and trying to keep us comfortable. It was nice to be with a family again. I felt very welcomed, and it took the edge off my homesickness.