..and continue seeing with your own eyes...
We stayed at Taj Mahal for close to 3 hours. After taking some final snaps from different angles (you know between the trees, from the corners, etc ) we exited. Stefan spent quite some time to take photos of camels, monkeys, horses and squirrels on the way out.
Even though, Stefan did not say it, but we guessed that he was pretty hungry. I had asked the guide before leaving, where can we find Pizza Hut. (Tried and tested for Stefan..we thought). Luckily, it wasn't that far away. After about 20 mins, we were sitting in the confines of a Pizza Hut(Loud music, shouting small children and quiet foreigners). Both me and my friend are veggies. I told Stefan to have what he wants, but he refrained from eating non-veg and asked us to order pizzas, as we deem fit. Me and chidi ordered the starters and pizzas which were quite good and he seemed pleased too. As it turned out, it was Stefan's first time in any Pizza Hut.
We were quite full and then we decided our next destination. We had two options - Fatehpur Sikri or Agra Fort. Fatehpur Sikri is quite a long way from Agra and as it was already around 4 PM, we decided to head towards Agra Fort. Personally, my expectations were not that high. (I do not why..). Even at the entrance, it did not seem too overwhelming. But, in reality it is a magnificent structure, quite enormous in size and detail, very expansive. If you know the history, it will be obvious that there is more to this building than meets the eye. Taj Mahal looks small (but still stunningly beautiful) from here. It felt odd when I realised that I am walking the same streets, ascending the same stairs and touching the same marbles of a fort which was once inhabited by Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and perhaps Aurangzeb. (Not the first one to feel that way...by any stretch). Agra fort is a massive structure and we soon found out that it would be impossible to see it completely, as it would close around 6 PM. I have just two words for Agra Fort - Immensely Impressive.
As we moved out, we were once again flogged by people trying to sell articles like souvenirs, post cards, key rings etc. Despite trying hard, it does get irritating when they keep coming, even after you have said a firm No. I have nothing against them as they are trying to make a living but, can not we find a more peaceful and meaningful approach? Anyway, we somehow got out of it and I could clearly see that they have irritated Stefan a bit.
Once we were back on the road, we asked the driver to stop at a place where we can buy 'Agra ka petha'. He assured us that he knows an authentic place for this. After about 15 mins, he stopped at a place, where we bought 5 kgs of 'petha'. (2 for me, 2 for my friend, 1 for Stefan). After that, it was the long way back from we started....
The trip was fantastic and enjoyable. But, it was tiring, especially for Stefan who had started his day at 6:00 AM and reached his hotel around midnight. For me, it was all worth it. Some of the things, of course, which dampened my spirit were bad roads, small children and half clad women knocking on your car windows, no traffic rules. We do not mind them much and accept it as 'yahan to aisa hi hai'. But, sitting beside a foreigner makes you realize it all...this bitter truth. I am not insensitive towards them, but I am definitely not in a position to bring a permanent smile on their faces. Atleast Not yet...If we only we could control this, it would make travelling and visiting so much pleasant. These are small things which affected me...things..jaise daant mein kuch phas gaya ho...they wont take your life, but wont let you sleep either.