Jan 28, 2009

A Wild Ride in India, Plus Pics

Can I just say how amused I was that someone decided to exact revenge on Bernie Madoff by, get this, teepee-ing his house! As if the act alone wasn't enough, the Fox news headline read "Breaking news: Madoff house attacked with toilet paper." Be careful in the bathroom.

Winding back the clock. Two months ago, I really didn't have a clue when I landed in Mumbai. I had my backpack, an address scribbled on a scrap of paper, a phone number I didn't know how to call, and $11 cash. It was 4:30 in the morning.

Outside you would have thought it was noon at Disneyworld. Throngs crowded outside the exit, no doubt awaiting friends and family. No one was there for me though. I still needed to travel 4 hours east from Mumbai to Pune, my final destination.

So I hired a cab, no matter I didn't have any cash, and just hoped my little address was sufficient. I'm writing this, so obviously it was. But not without a little adventure.

My driver's name was Raju. That's about all I learned from him in about 4 and a half hours, since he hardly spoke English. But Raju's driving skills more than made up for the lack of stimulating conversation. Drifting between lanes, or taking two at a time, accelerating, decelerating. It was quite the thrill ride.

Especially about two hours in. It was getting lighter, and I was watching the countryside. Then we started drifting and slowing down again, but this time more than usual. A glance forward showed we were heading for a concrete divider. A further glance to my right showed Raju, head back in full tilt, eyes glossed. The guy was out! So I did what had to be done. Punched him in the shoulder. Hard. Raju snapped alert, a great guilty smile on his face. A minute later he pulled over to stretch and revive himself a bit, and I made him do jumping jacks for good measure.

To make a long story short, we made it through the rest of the drive. I think I reached Pune around 9:30, somewhat relieved.

Images can highlight the next 11 days. In no particular order...

Morning at the Taj Mahal, in Agra. The fog/smog didn't lift all morning, making the view feel incredibly surreal, even in person. I've included a few more Taj pics at the bottom.

Street scene in Agra, blocks away from the Taj Mahal. You can see at least two generations of rickshaws, older bicycle rickshaws (left) and motor rickshaws (right). The latter are everywhere in India.

India Gate, famous monument in Delhi.

Women escorting their children at Qutub Minar, another sightseeing hot spot, in Delhi. I was trying to capture some of the brilliant colors of India, reflected in their dress.

Fellow travelers I met in Agra. Represented at the table are South Africa, Scotland, Spain, Ireland, and one bearded American.

Another shot from Priti's wedding, this time with the ceremony in action.

A pandit at Priti's wedding, preparing for another part of the ritual. The seven rice piles are decorated and represent seven promises the bride and groom will make. Each pile is ceremoniously stepped on by the bride.

My friends and fellow employees at Xento. Left to right, Rahul Nagpure, Dhananjay Kale, and Praveen Shetty, after dinner my last night in Pune.

Another sunrise in Pune.

Qutub Minar tower in Delhi.

At Yusuf Poonawala's wedding reception, along with his bride Sakina. Yusuf's wedding was my reason/excuse for going to India in the first place. This was the day I arrived.

Back to the Taj Mahal. It might look like it, but I did not photoshop myself in. Would have been a lot cheaper though.

Like I said, the haze stayed, but we did get some beautiful morning hues reflected off the white marble. Completed in 1653, the Taj Mahal took 21 years to build, with thousands of laborers and over 1000 elephants used to haul in materials. Locals told us that Emperor Shah Jahan, who had the monument constructed as a mausoleum for his wife, ordered that all the artisans and craftsmen have their hands chopped off so they could never reproduce their labors. Wikipedia says there is no evidence to support such myths. Who to trust?

One of my favorite images. Good thing I snapped this before the fountains turned on and spoiled the reflection.

A final look, but actually one of the first pics I took at the Taj Mahal. Dylan, one of the friends I met, is silhouetted in the forefront as we entered the front gate from the outer courtyards.


Greg said...

any pics for Tampa??

Anonymous said...

I love your pictures! Amazing! Like, postcard amazing. Actually, knowing your photoshop skills... did you really go to India? ;)