We were up before dawn to walk down the road to the Taj Mahal’s main entrance. A few other people were gathered by the ticket office in the darkness. Inside and through the main gate, facing the Taj, we sat on a step and watched that most perfect of buildings slowly define itself out of the darkness. From just a black silhouette details slowly were added, until it looked like a sketch done in charcoal on dark grey paper, with no physical attachment to the ground.
It was a beautiful dawn and the Taj Mahal floated in mist. It really was as beautiful as we expected. Inside, the echoes were the most sustained and musical I’d ever heard. The inlay work on the marble, inside and out, was exquisite.
A perfect ‘full stop’ to our sightseeing in India.
A short breakfast, and a call to confirm our room in Delhi at the Yatri Guest House (where we started), and we were ready to leave. We said good riddance to the Sidhartha Hotel and got an auto-rickshaw to the Park Plaza Hotel to meet our taxi.
The drive to Delhi took about 5 hours, including a brief stop at a horribly touristy hotel/restaurant. At one stage we passed a small truck on its roof, with a dead Brahmin cow beside it and two bodies under sheets. Waiting.
We passed so many people on that drive, and I can say with complete honesty that I would not trade places with any one of them. I had a small revelation when I was thinking about my work at home. I realised, with complete certainty, that I love what I do and would rather be doing it than anything else. It was a good feeling, and one I will try to remember.
The driver was pretty good, luckily. Unfortunately when we finally made it to the Yatri, and we’d given him a 200 Rs tip and waved him off, K told me he’d scratched her palm with his little finger in some strange suggestive way when he’d shaken hands. This quite upset her. There’s always some fly in the Indian ointment!
Anyway, we’re finally here, back in Delhi, and overdue for getting out of India, as fascinating as it’s been. All that remained to do was a little shopping.
We took an auto-rickshaw back to Connaught Place. It was very strange to be repeating the experiences of 7 weeks ago. We ate pizza (surprisingly, not too bad) at Cafe 100, and then walked a circuit of Connaught Circus. Strangely, everything seems a bit more upmarket than last time, no doubt in contrast to what we’ve been used to lately. We had a good laugh the first time someone sidled up to ask “Chess? Backgammon?”
Shopping day tomorrow – a bit boring, and not my favourite occupation. It’s going to be a long haul home. We tried packaged pan masala this evening – yuck! Horrible stuff, no doubt it is an acquired taste…