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Published: June 17th 2009
Robbie and I had been starting to feel a lot more happy and at ease with the confusing state that is India. We were picked up at 7.30 on the dot as promised from our hotel to start our onward journey out of Delhi into the unknown. Our driver, Mannu, (meaning baby in Hindi apparently) picked us up in a Columbian looking white taxi and our journey was nothing short of fantastic! Delhi at this time in the morning was still bustling like any big city but it seemed slightly calmer and more at ease with itself. We also realised how huge and densely populated it is. As we left the city centre and traveled through the suburbs, it literally just goes on and on. There are people EVERYWHERE you look. It seemed almost unbelievable that from every direction we looked there was something going on. When we did get further out onto the road, there was town after town, little clusters of buildings and people and action built up at the side of the road. It really did seem insane to us. The roads themselves were crazy also. Drivers risked life and limb to pass one another, and rickshaws passed
us with as many people as possible crammed into them with people clinging onto the outside of the vehicles in many cases, and even sometimes on the roof! The art of the horn beep was also becoming slightly more clear to us. Our driver Mannu was an expert in the field and was certainly not what could be described as horn shy. Mannu took us to a truck drivers stop to pay his state taxes as we crossed the state border into Uttar Pradesh, and we also decided to get out in order have a look around. We were immediately swarmed by the people and hawkers there! They seemed to come out of nowhere and were all trying to sell us everything under the sun, including monkeys and mini chess sets. They were all really friendly though, but just a bit overwhelming for me. It was clear at this point, that Robbie was handling the people a lot better than I was because I seemed to get quite intimidated but he stayed chilled and in control of the situation. Even when he had a monkey on his shoulder!
Mannu also took us to his home village out in the
sticks (after getting lost in the countryside off road for a couple of hours) and we were quite literally the talk of the town! We were invited in for tea and food by his family, and shown round the village with a huge crowd of children that was constantly swelling in size as we walked. This was definitely our favourite time in India so far, life seemed a lot more simple and easy going there and even with the language barrier the people were a lot more friendly and seemed a lot more genuine. We will be forever grateful to Mannu for showing us his home and his wonderful family.
On the way to Agra we also took a detour to Fatehpur Sikri, which had amazing architecture and was the perfect warm up to seeing the Taj Mahal. The place itself felt like a bit of a ghost town and
our guide explained to us that it had been the capital for a short while during the Mughal reign of Emperor Akbar. The red sandstone palaces were really beautiful and you could definitely see the connection in the architecture between here and the Taj.
When we saw the
Taj Mahal for the first time, it was every bit as good as the hype, it almost took our breath away. As we walked up with our guide, there were monkeys in the bushes and dogs asleep in the sun on the floor. There were also quite a lot of children hawkers, but either they were not as pushy as the ones in Delhi, or we were getting more used to things and being a lot more chilled out with the situations. The gardens around the Taj were nothing short of stunning. There were parrots in the trees making strange and exotic noises. The Taj is made completely of white marble, and the sun was so bright we had to squint to look at it, but as it was so incredible, we both couldn't bear to take our eyes off it. Our guide for the day told us in great detail about the love story connected with the Taj. As well as us being overwhelmed by the Taj itself, we ourselves got a lot of attention. So many people asked to have their picture taken with us. The feeling of having total strangers wanting their pictures with you is a
funny feeling really, part freak show part celebrity! We wondered if this is how Peter Andre and that bloody Jordan feel?
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