The following morning, we hop in our taxi at 5:30AM to take us to the Taj bus stop. We were supposed to be there at 5AM. Great. Now I’m irritated because we’re gonna miss the MOST FAMOUS MONUMENT in India. The driver knows we are late and I hope he can see the urgency in my face. I cannot miss this. He appears to rush but they all drive like maniacs so I can’t really tell. He takes us to the side of a highway and pulls off onto a strip of asphalt and parks the car. I look around. It’s still dark, and of course we are surrounded by nothing. No bus. Some trees. Some trash. Some mangas (dogs). We sit there, idling in silence. I shift. I look out the window. I look at my hands. I sigh. I look out the window. Then another van pulls up behind us, and the driver tells us to go get in the other car. Huh? Okay.
We get into the new van and settle in, thinking this is our own personal car that will take us to Agra. But after 30 minutes of highway driving, he pulls over in front of a bus that’s waiting on the side of the road. Waiting for us. That’s right, son! America in the house!
Our first stop is Krishna’s “birthplace” and his temple. Krishna’s the blue one. That’s how I identify him. You aren’t allowed to wear shoes in any Hindu temples. Because feet are disgusting, and temples are sacred. When Lo and I hand our shoes over to the “shoe guy”, he puts them in slot 215, but gives us a token that says 216. We are concerned that our shoes will be gone when we come back, so we try to communicate the error to him. He waves us away like we’re a pair of idiots. We walk away – helpless indifference.
At one point during the tour, I’m standing in front of a display of 3 monks who look so lifelike it unsettles me. The more I stare at them, the more reality falls away and I begin to fantasize about them coming to life. I keep saying to them, “Look at me. Just look at me. Wink. Just one wink. Turn your head. Smile at me. Nod your head. C’mon! One wink.” I am focused in my pursuit, convinced that I can turn them human with my mind. Nothing happens. But can you imagine? If one of those monks turned and looked at me? I would LOSE MY SHIT.
Moving on. Agra Fort:
Then, the crowning jewel of India, Lady Taj herself:
Here’s what you won’t see next: boring Taj photos. You’re welcome.
I hate the whole hands-on-the-hip pose about as much as I hate selfies and duck lips. So… a lot. But Bobby was convinced about it adding to the awesomeness of this shot and I begrudgingly complied. I guess he was right. This is the one and only hip shot you’ll ever find me doing folks. This one’s for you, India!
*photography by Greg Bryan