Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Taj Mahal and We

  Having chocolate which my parents got from home...Deep bittersweet taste of my country is spreading over my tongue and disappears, leaving memories...
   After 2 week visit of my parents to Chandigarh I dive into routine again but with sweet thoughts about our trips done in that short time. 
   I shall say that trip to India was the first one done by parents in the last 20 years!!! I was really happy they were brave and mobile to do it. They were arriving on the 11th of June, their flight was not direct, with one plane change: Astana-Almaty-Delhi. Me and my husband were planning to pick them up from Indira Gandhi International Airport, stay night in Delhi and then go to Agra. But plans had changed and we decided to go to Agra straight from the airport! Mum and Dad didn't know anything about our intentions :).
  When we reached Delhi airport we got to know that the flight had already arrived!!! We were hurrying so much towards the waiting area doors. I was looking for my parents's faces and was getting excited and couldn't believe they were going to appear before my eyes..soon... when my husband said: "They are there!!!" 
Then I saw my father in a bright shirt and a cap and then my mum in a colorful blouse. Father was pulling a trolley with the luggage. In a few moments we all were hugging each other. Happy memories...
 I asked my parents  on the way to the parking if it was fine for them to continue their journey right now. They said: "Yes, it's fine." This is how we started way to Agra, to see one of the most famous, one of the new wonders of the world - Taj Mahal! !
 We had to cover 200 km from Delhi to Agra. It was already late night; everyone was tired, but happy to be with each other. Road to Agra wasn't very easy because of the traffic and loads of trucks with goods for the  different parts of India. We didn't see much out of the window because it was dark. Somehow we could notice small towns along the road, houses without lights. At one  moment we noticed - something was burning vigorously, throwing bright flashes of the orange light in the air. When we came closer to that object we saw a long tube going high in the sky, and there was a fire on the top of it, burning constantly. It was oil refining factory. It looked creepy as its' construction  reminded us scary iron machines from the movies about Terminator.

We arrived to Agra late night or, you can say, early morning of 12th of June. We stopped near the first hotel we saw near the road, and to our great pleasure there were rooms available. We booked last two of them, and after some time we fell fast asleep on the beds, not realizing completely how much happened in the last 24 hours.

***                 ***                      ***                            

 Morning in Agra. You can see open roofs of the nearest houses from the hotel window. People, women and even children,  are working on one of the roofs, carrying bowls with cement on their heads. Labor. My father is shocked. 
Later we check out and heading for... Taj Mahal!!! Through the crowded, messed up streets of the city...Closer and closer... and we see it! Far away, that wonder made of white marble with 4 minarets on the corners. Symmetry of Love. 

 When we arrive to the special tourist office and get out of the car we can feel that it is very hot! Sun is burning mercilessly at this time of the year, but no way back!  We buy tickets in the tourist office: 20 rupees for Indian nationals and 750 rupees for foreigners. I'm still a foreigner here though married to an Indian, so even I can  use some of the benefits:  along with the tickets foreigners receive a paper bag with a bottle of water and special shoes covers in it.
Then our small company (me, my husband, my parents and husband's sister) sits inside the battery pulled buses and start approaching Taj Mahal. It takes about 10 minutes.We step out of the cab and we are suddenly surrounded by local sellers saying us in Russian (wonder how they recognize us) to buy this and that from their shops. We are saying English ''No" or Hindi "Nahin" and finally cross the gates and enter exterior of Taj Mahal.  

I still don't know what is that red fort kind of, but it is beautiful too and we click a few pictures with it on the background. 
Then we are hurrying towards Taj Mahal itself.  There are loads of people on the way so you have to lay the path for yourself through them. We come out on the big square where, as I understand now, photos are usually taken. We do the same, trying to take pictures avoiding unnecessary persons to be on them. 
  In spite of the heat we enjoy the views of Taj Mahal. And we enjoy seeing it together
 Parents are happy too.
After photo session at that point we are going to see Taj Mahal inside. We are walking along the ancient paths, looking here and there at the beautiful scenery. I want to take "jumping" picture with Taj Mahal. What I've finally got:
You have to wear special shoe covers to enter Taj Mahal. As I've mentioned already, they are given new to foreigners in their paper bags, but Indians share them with each other. We all wear shoe covers too and going to see Taj inside. When you are trying to enter Taj Mahal you face one inconvenience: people are intentionally kicking you with their elbows in order to be the first. It disappoints but this feeling goes away as soon as you are inside Taj. You are passing by round sections with high ceilings which are similar to each other. But in the very first of them are the tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. They are resting in peace under heavy and cold plates of marble.
Marble is reflecting the flashes of the camera, so pictures won't be good inside Taj.
Many people are sitting on the marble floors of Taj Mahal, as rightly noticed, this material remains cool even in the hot weather.
 We stay under the high shelter for sometime too and continue to explore the place. It is better outside - we are catching the streams of the  wind and relaxing in the shadow of the marble giant.
  On the way back we are still taking pictures of Taj Mahal and a lovely nature around it. My mum is fascinated with the blossoming trees and plants, with the beautiful alleys of Taj Mahal. We are walking in the galleries   just like people did four centuries ago... 
Visit to Taj Mahal can't be completed if you don't do a little shopping too. As soon as we come out of the gates to the street the sellers "attack" us again. We follow one of them who "speaks" Russian :).In his shop we find a variety of marble craft: small Taj Mahals, elephants, jewelry boxes, pictures, candle stands and many more items. This is not marble, this is Persian marble, this is white marble...What to choose? Of course, my mum is ready to buy the whole shop. The seller offers more and more and we try to buy just  few things and get away from the shop. 
   We search for a battery pulled bus, sit in it and finally have to say "Good bye, Taj Mahal". Or may be "See you"? 
 That was an amazing experience for each of us connecting you to the ancient times! You may not understand the architecture but  you can certainly understand the greatness of  what your ancestors have created!

Friday, 10 June 2011

How the story began - removing the distances

    I think I should have done this post in the very beginning as it's actually explains why I'm here in India. 
   It started in the spring a little more than two years ago, when I was still doing my graduation in Moscow, Russia. I was using well known social network to keep in touch with my cousins, who all live abroad. I had already enough people in my friend list when I got one more friend request which I accepted. One click changed whole my life later.
    The friend whom I added was a boy from India. We began exchanging messages. A long line, or better, column of our chatting then followed. The boy was very communicative and wanted to know more about me.  He used to call me “Friend” in all our talks, I in turn was not sounding very interested in our conversations, that time I was too occupied with my diploma project and state examination.
  Once, when we were chatting for almost one month, I deleted him from a friend list. I had a reason which appeared to be so silly later on. Some voice inside me said that time: "Come on, send him a friend request back. May be you offended him with your sudden decision". I followed the advice my inner voice gave. I guess that The Indian boy listened to his inner voice too when he accepted my request, though this situation could put an end to our then-friendship.
   When my graduation was done and I had a diploma in my hands, I could dedicate more time to our talks, and indeed, we started having longer chats filled with cheerful, happy messages, with smiles representing our moods. We got to know a lot more about each other.
 He asked my mobile number and called me once. That was I guess the first time I was talking to someone over the phone in English. As far as I remember that day I couldn't say much because my heart started beating so vigorously when I got a call. I said the boy about it, he was surprised. After that he kept calling me for a few more times, sometimes when I was in the company of my friends and I wasn’t comfortable to talk in front of them. 
 I understood that I meant something to him when he expressed a concern. He was afraid that when I would be back to my country I would forget him and we would never chat again. He was so wrong about it! My entire existence was already full of him that throwing him out of my thoughts was not possible at all. 
 I became really crazy for him so much that I started learning Hindi language, I didn't really know for what purpose, but I was doing it with so much passion which I could never expect from myself.

Waiting for parents

   Hot days in India, in Chandigarh, city where I live. When i came out of the room in the morning I saw water pools on the backyard and I felt very happy because... it was raining last night!!! 
BUT... I was not going to tell about the weather, this we can leave for later.
    Tomorrow is going to be a very happy, rather hectic, but happy day of my life... My parents are coming to India!!! We are planning few trips, roam around Chandigarh, have fun and so on. They have only two weeks but I think they will like being here. That's it about it for now, later I'm going to tell everything in details about what we were doing here. And today.. one more day of preparations for  the meeting with them.

Thursday, 9 June 2011


  Writing a blog is a new experience for me and I hope it's gonna be good!

    Many people are writing about India... They have different reasons for this. Then...What new can I bring to all that amount of blogs on this topic ever existed up to now? Can be unique and interesting? Yes, I can.
    It started in the spring, continued whole summer and then autumn and winter of the same year... I still couldn't believe that my life would be ever linked to India...when I finally came here one winter day of 2009 and stayed... who knows forever or not. But right now I've been a part of this wonderful country for one and a half of a year.
     The story began and let it continue! 
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