Up at 4:45am. Left hotel 5:15amish. Train left 6:10am. A local baby got passed around on the train and we all got to hold it. This one didn't seem to like me. Maybe it sensed that I didn't find it as amusing or compelling as a puppy or other higher life form. I temporarily advanced to #1 creeper with a rape joke (after many others had been made!) but that was an overreaction. A random cleric-type guy stopped at our row and yelled in Hindi for a while. We figured he was upset at us playing cards with loose women. Already I'd gotten more requests to standup from this group than from any of the 3 previous ones. Unlikely, because I've never done it without an MC, microphone and preparation, I don't want to go up first, my material is aimed at American audiences, and most of it would get me arrested in India.
Someone gave me a cool Rajasthani hat on the train. Jane? [It survived the flights home, FYI.]
We arrived in Agra 11amish. Had lunch at the hotel at 12pm. Chicken kadai. It was on my pre-trip list of things to eat. (I added 9 more things after I met the group. OK, 8. Sorry, Ryan.) Good, not hot, but I ate a chili pepper which was quite intense. We had to get lunch down quick as we left for Agra Fort at 12:30pm.
Taj Mahal from Agra Fort. Very awesome seeing it from the road for the first time on the way to the fort.
Taj from fort.
There's an area called the Shish Mahal (Mirror Palace) that Lonely Planet says is closed indefinitely for restoration, but our local guide said the caretakers would let us in if we each paid Rs 100 and promised not to tell the world, otherwise they'd get in trouble. So here I am not telling the world.
So the deal is if you wave candles, the mirrors look like twinkling stars.
This looked much better in person.
What's the deal with people who can't pronounce the last r in mirror? Creepy.
Taj Mahal from Khas Mahal. This is where Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal for his late wife, was imprisoned for the last 8 years of his life and forced to look out upon his creation. I think our guide said that when his eyesight failed, someone put a large diamond here so that multiple images of the Taj would be projected onto the walls.
Anguri Bagh, a monthly marketplace for the women.
Back at the hotel I napped 3pm-4pm. Then we went out again to visit the Taj Fucking Mahal.
Outside the gateway to the Taj, which is visible through the bottom center arch.
Here it is.
You know what's missing from this photo? The drug-addled unemployable comedians who do more shows than me but will never be in a position to do something cool like visit the Taj Mahal. (Let the defriendings begin!)
Closeup of front arch.
Better view of the Arabic writing. We went inside but the interior is boring.
Gateway again from the Taj.
A random local guy started pointing out spots for me to stand and take artsy photos.
To his credit, this is a good angle with 3 minarets.
We were waiting around for sunset, and the lighting change here suggests that the wait was over.
Phartsy! If I had a band, I'd call it Phart. Or Pewp. At the end of this, I knew the guy expected a tip, so I gave him Rs 40. He wanted more, and offered to change my 500s. Hey tough guy, you provided a service I never requested. In the US we would thank you for it. The Rs 40 was a bonus, given to you by a rich American out of white guilt. Be happy with it, you ass.
Outside the Taj complex. Leprosy!
We returned to the hotel at 6pm, then left at 7pm for dinner at Maya, which had a nice rooftop eating area. At least it was nice until the wedding procession passed by. It was loud and took like an hour to pass. Kind of like one of my dumps. Hey-yo! Bonus for you, LG. I had chicken fried rice because I wanted a break from Indian food, and had 2 extra-strong (8%!) Kingfishers. I sat at the middle of the table, which I like doing because if one side of the table gets boring I can switch my attention to the other side. But Janie was sitting across from me and her conversation was compelling enough that I didn't have to choose sides. Abdulla later commented on the conversation so it must have really outshone what the two halves were discussing. Hey, we chemistry majors tend to be rather bright all around.
Afterward we hung out in the hotel lobby till 11pm, although this is just what my journal says and I have no recollection of it. No one wanted to go out for drinks, so I went to my room. Minutes later a hotel worker knocked on my door and gave me toilet paper, which I didn't realize I didn't have. Then I had to call another guy to my room because I couldn't figure out the shower. There was an extra knob I had to turn on first. Bed 12:15am.