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Holy Cow! redux

India Travel Blog

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OK, I'm in a much better mood after yet another day of new adventures.  I will retype my story and hope that it doesn't get lost, too.

After the wedding I went to Agra (bka "Agra-vate").  There I took in the Taj Mahel, which I will admit I didn't love for the first few hours, as it is crawling with tourists both Indian and foreign.  I gave it time and was ultimately awed by the details.  It is truly an amazing monument to love, built by Shah Jahel to honor his favorite wife.  She died giving birth to baby #14 in a 19-year marriage (yet another plug for child spacing).  The reason why this town is so obnoxious is it, like a few others in India, is full of folks (known as "touts") whose livelihood depends on various tricks and lies and schemes designed to part the tourist with her money.  Some are very elaborate and slick, so you have to keep your wits about you at all times.

Hopped a train as fast as I could to Jaipur, the Rajasthan point on the tourists' so-called "Golden Triangle."  This was an interesting place.  Rajasthanis are very proud of their sites and history and culture, many still wearing turbans and handlebar mustaches while many of the women (Hindu and Muslim) still observe a limited form of purdah.  My favorite spot here was Jantar Mantar, a huge stone observatory built in the 1600s with still functioning and still accurate astronomical and astrological instruments, including a ginormous sun dial which is accurate within 2 seconds.  (Dad, do you know? or Matt, can you please ask Mom precisely when I was born?  This is very important information here.)

I apparently fell in with the city's tuk-tuk mafia there, with no harm done.  A tuk-tuk (named after the sound it makes) is a 1- to 3-horsepower cross between a golf cart and a lawn mower with a bit of dune buggy thrown in.  They can fit 2 (maybe 3) across in a lane--depending on how many bike rickshaws, old Soviet Ambassador cars, camels pulling carts, or painted elephants are also on the road.  That is, if lanes mattered a whit.  For the record, in Delhi I also saw a Hummer and a Lamborghini.  I've mostly been travelling by foot, tuk-tuk, or bike rickshaw.

I regrouped in Delhi for a day and have come to Varanasi on the Ganges, arguably the most sacred site in the world for Hindus and Buddhists.  This place is a real stretch for the mind and heart and spirit, so my days here are around 6 or 7 hours of stimulation only.  More on this later.  I was delighted to see a cow yesterday proudly (?) holding her head high showing off her crown of roses.  In the middle of the road, of course.  This has been the least of the spectacular sites of Varanasi.

On the fourteenth I'll head to Dharamsala, the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile.  I have met a million (approximately) wonderful Indians and a few backpackers, too.

I'm staying safe and healthy, for those of you concerned.

Love you and wish you were here.

xoxoxoxo, L
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UGH!  I just wrote you all a very long email telling you about my adventures but lost it all in cyberspace and can't bear to take the time to write it all again.  Sorry.  I'll write again soon.  Suffice it to say that I am safe, and well, and my spots are very nearly gone.  I've been to Agra and Jaipur, am now in Varanasi, and head to Dharamsala on 2/14.  I'll fill you in later, I promise.

Miss you and love you and wish you were here.

xoxo, L