Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Five Minutes at the Taj

Our Spring Break had a rocky start. The plan was to arrive in Delhi, stay the night there, take an early train to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, and then depart to Rajasthan. That was, basically, how it went, but much less fun.

I arrived in Delhi Friday evening. I was supposed to go check into our hotel and Crystal and Kelsey would meet me when they landed. I found a cab and eventually found my hotel, the Hotel Metro Tower. To all of you: NEVER STAY THERE!!!!! The Hotel Metro Tower was DISGUSTING!! I got into my room and it was swarming with mosquitoes. In the hour and a half that I was there, I killed about ten mosquitoes and there were still at least a dozen left. There were dead mosquitoes, flies, and some other small flying bugs in the bed. The carpets were stained and nasty. The walls were dirty, smudged, and even had dragged handprints on them. There was a maggot crawling up our curtain and a couple spiders in the corner. I was so creeped out and uncomfortable. I kept thinking of that movie with Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson, where they stay in a hotel where the owners murder the guests.

I wandered around the room for a little while, trying to calm down and killing any mosquitoes that landed. Then Kelsey called. She said that she and Crystal had decided just to stay at the airport instead of coming to the hotel. We only had about six hours until we had to be on the train to Agra, so they didn't want to pay for the hotel. I sure as hell didn't want to stay there by myself, so I checked out and went back to the airport to meet them. Unfortunately, because I had checked in, I had to pay for the hotel room, and then for a cab to take me back to the airport. I should have complained and argued, but I was so creeped out that I just wanted to get out of there. So I ended up paying $40 to stay in a nasty room for an hour and a half. Obviously, I was a little pissed.

I left the hotel and met Crystal and Kelsey at the airport. We ended up hanging out at this restaurant outside the Arrivals section of the airport. It was pretty nice actually. We sat on leather couches and ate pita bread and amazing hummus and yummy french fries. Finally, it hit 5:00. We took a taxi down to the train station and boarded our train to Agra. How was it? Well, there is a reason they call second class seating "the cattle car." There is a basic structure to the seats. Those who buy tickets early enough get seat numbers. However, once those seat numbers run out, they don't stop selling tickets. It becomes general seating. Meaning, at one point during the train ride I had three grown women and two children sitting with me on my three-person bench. It was a cramped and uncomfortable ride and unfortunately, it didn't get much better.

We finally arrived in Agra and, after storing our luggage, went out to find a cab to take us to the Taj Mahal. We realized, however, that because the rest of the group had to catch another train back to Delhi in order to catch a train to Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, our time at the Taj would be short. By the time we reached the Taj, we had 45 minutes to buy tickets, stand in line, run in, take pictures, and run out. We did it and we enjoyed it, but we all wondered whether it was worth it. The thing about the Taj Mahal is: it is truly amazing…and the government knows it. That is why it can get away with charging foreigners Rs. 750 (about $16) to see the Taj. That's right. If you want to see the Taj Mahal, even if you don't want to go inside, you still have to pay Rs. 750. We paid and never made it inside the Taj Mahal. We stood outside, took a bunch of pictures, and ran back to our car. That was the biggest bummer of the trip: We all would have liked to see more of the Taj. However, we have to remind ourselves that we did indeed see the Taj Mahal. Most people cannot say that. India is a crazy place. In order to stay sane, you have to look at the positive of every situation.

1 comment: