Our drive from Jaipur to Agra didn’t seem like it took four hours. I was hanging onto every last word my sister, Debbie, was telling me about our family history. My parents were never ones to divulge much information about themselves or where they came from, so I marveled in the stories that helped explain the people they had become. It has been something I have been craving my whole life and I had a feeling would be a healing part of this trip for me. I still would love to hear their stories from their own mouths…but this was a beautiful start.
Once we arrived in Agra off to sleep we went since we had to be up at 5am the next morning to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise. We got into line at 5:45am and were one of the first to enter. The entrance was so magnificent and as you rounded the bend and the Taj Mahal came into focus breath left your lungs. I immediately thought to myself that it looked like a marble painting in the sky. The smog at sunrise almost made it look like it was part of the clouds…like a game you would play with your friends when you were little…lying on your backs, looking at the clouds and telling each other what shapes you saw and the Taj would miraculously appear! It was breathtaking.
What is so beautiful about the Taj Mahal is that it is the absolute showing of love. Hundreds of years ago, the King’s wife fell ill and on her deathbed she requested three things of him. The first was to never marry again after she had passed. The second was to take of their children and the third was to build something in her memory that could never be replicated. When she passed away he began working on the Taj Mahal several years later, where the queens body would be laid to rest. It was finished twenty -two years later having over 20,000 workers work on it day in and day out.
The entire property is completely symetrical…starting from the entrance, down to the ponds, all the way to the Queens corpse in the grave. Just like the pyramids…this was a wonder of the world. All of the materials for the Taj Mahal were brought by lands far away and carried by camel and elephants. They did not have the technology or tools that we have today to calculate this symmetry to perfection. On top of all of this, as you got closer to the Taj Mahal you noticed all of the marble carvings in the walls and the stonework that went into creating such a masterpiece. This truly was a labor love and his wife would have been happy to know that it would never be replicated. She had gotten her wish at her final resting place.
From the Taj Mahal, Debbie and I went back to the hotel and packed up our belongings. Our next leg of the trip was to Rishikesh (up north), but we would have to drive up to Delhi and fly out in the morning. Our driver got supremely lost and we ended up in the car for over 5 hours. Patience is not my virtue, but I also knew this would be a lesson of mine that would surface in India. I kept my cool and we finally parked, until some familiar faces from our original homestay managers came to rescue us! I could not believe how warm and reassured I felt seeing friendly familiar faces. I was so happy that we were staying at the same place that we started our stay out in Delhi.
I had gotten this wild idea that I wanted to get my nose pierced while I was in India. I had been wanting to get it done for several months, but all of my friends talked me out of it in the states. I think one thing that Debbie has really taught me on this journey is to own up to who you are and to walk to the beat of your own drum. The woman giving us our henna tatoo at the elephant camp at Dera Amer had a nose ring and I thought she looked so beautiful with it. I started noticing that most Indian women had nose rings and I took it as a sign that I should get mine done too! They didn’t use a piercing gun and didn’t give me numbing lotion. A man just took a gold wire and drilled it through my nose, using pliers to turn it into a ring. I was amazed that it barely hurt and he sent me on my way saying that I did not need to use rubbing alcohol or any anti bacterial remedies. Let’s hope I make it out of here alive! lol.
Who would have thought…a visit to the Taj Mahal and a trip to get my nose pierced all in a fine days work 😉 (First pic of me with my nose ring is the last picture above).