Our plan was to go to Agra early in the morning before the crowds and the heat could affect us. Unfortunately, I was feeling very ill in the morning and had to go back to bed. I figured out my antibiotic (doxycycline) that I take as an anti-malarial precaution makes me nauseous if I don't first have a full stomach and sit for 30 minutes. So, we ended leaving for the Taj Mahal at noon (which is exactly what we were trying to avoid on Saturday) after a delicious lunch of roti stuffed with potatoes, I think.
During that weekend, there was some sort of Muslim festival or holiday so it was packed, but free to get in! Usually, it is 750 rupees to get in for foreigners. But it was so damn hot! You have to remove your shoes when standing at the Taj Mahal. Himanshu stashed his shoes in a corner, and I put my shoes in my purse. As we were waiting in line, it started pouring. It must have rained for at least 45 minutes. I was squeezed between Himanshu and the guy in front of me. If you leave a gap, people will cut in front of you. I must have pushed so many people out of the way who tried to skip in line. Even worse, mothers with babies and children would use them as a wedge to cut in line. You don't use your baby as a tool to cut in line! There were police men with giant sticks patrolling the queues. When people tried to cut, I would start yelling in English and the hooligans in front of me would start shouting too. They became very affectionate towards me. They would invite other Indians to cut in line behind them and then say 'Don't skip! There are plenty of foreigners in the back of the line!' I love Indian humor.
We finally arrived at the level with the tomb after 2 hours, and there was another line! We waited there for probably another 2 hours. When we finally got in line to see the actually tomb underground (only open for this festival), people were shoving and pushing. It was quite humid, and with my bum knee, I was getting nervous going down the stairs. Himanshu said that we could see the grave from above so we turned around. However, they blocked off the section that allowed you to normally view the grave. We tried to go back down the stairs, but the police stopped us. So we waited in line for 4-5 hours, and we didn't even get to see the grave!!!
I can't be too upset though because I actually enjoyed yelling at people in line and staying with Bhavna's family. The Taj Mahal was beautiful, yes, but honestly, this one woman (and her husband) has the best grave site in the world. I don't even know her personally.
After our disappointing waste of time, we traveled back to Bhavna's house for my computer bag. It was late, and the family insisted we stay the night and not drive back in the dark. I was more than happy to oblige. So what if I skipped another day of work? I'm not getting paid, and no one is productive at GBS. Cultural experience or Facebooking on the job...ummmm, the first one, please. So I spent the night again and had of a delicious meal of who knows what with mangoes (my favorite).
I would like to take this opportunity again to thank the family who so graciously took Himanshu and me into their home. Bhavna, I appreciate that you trusted me enough to confide in me after only just meeting me, and I hope I gave you advice that will help you in your future. I'd also like to thank my mom for allowing me to be open and honest with her. I value our relationship and my ability to express my thoughts and feelings to you.
My Indian Family