Delighted in Delhi (...and Agra)

Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
Trip End May 2010

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Flag of India  ,
Sunday, December 6, 2009

In a rapidly transforming city of 15 million people, where pollution and poverty starkly contrast the luxury strip malls and traffic jams with the deafening drone of competing horns, we found ourselves in the midst of tranquility and unbeatable generosity. 

Sally Kunz, Ben's mom, met Ashok Bhutani on a day tour in Hyderabad, India, in 2007 when Sally was visiting Ben on a business trip.  (How ironic that this was just after going to Thailand to climb and now here we are, leaving India to climb in Thailand!)  Sally and Ashok exchanged email addresses and have been in touch ever since. How fortunate we were to get to meet Ashok and his amazing family two years later at his home in New Delhi! 

Our stay in India was essentially an extended layover.  When we purchased our "around the world" tickets, we had a brief layover in Delhi, so we extended it to two days, just enough time to see the Taj Mahal.  But making it so tight, we realize now seeing the Taj would not have been
possible without Ashok and his family.  Ashok booked us train tickets to and from Agra in advance (something that must be done to get seats), put us up in his house and assisted us with transportation to and from the train station. 

Meet Ashok

Ashok's wife, Rita, constantly put on a show in the food department! Every meal was a spread!! 

Breakfast spread with Rita...even breakfast was done up! Rita made special Indian roti-style pancakes, stuffed with potatoes and veggies.

More spreads; Rita really fattened us up! :)

And Ashok's daughter, Namita, was a magnificent hostess. With a degree and continuted studies in psychology, she is very well educated and well spoken. She repeatedly acted as an ambassador to Indian culture, helping clarify some of our misconceptions. Sitting at the house or seeing sights, Namita made sure we were taken care of and entertained!

Meet bright and beautiful Namita...and Ben stoked about the spreads!

Link to a traditional Rajistani dance/performance from the local market Namita and Rita took us to:

Now, about that Taj Mahal...

Our train ride to Agra, the homeplace of the Taj, included meals on wheels

We decided to rent a driver for the day in Agra--man, what a treat that ended up being! Our driver, Arif, cut us a deal and gave us a fantastic tour around the town before and after the Taj, and certainly went the extra mile, all from his antique car.

Meet Arif, and his nephew, and our pimp ride!

Arif took us around to some of the trademarks of Agra's industry. Here, men are making gorgeous marble inlays for tables, pictures, bowls, etc.

A close up of a marble inlay

Ben learning to make a hand-made rug

Now, really, on to the Taj Mahal...

Really, this isn't Photoshopped...we are really standing in front of the Taj! It was built to be exactly as tall as it is wide when you include the minnarretts. This building is a real work of art!

One of the surprise phenomenons that we ran into was Lindsey's popularity with the locals. Immediately, as soon as Lindsey passed through the entry gates, Indian men from the ages of 16 to 50 approached her in mobs to take photos with her. We found it really quite bizzare! Each boy would take turns taking the exact same photo of them with Lindsey, passing around the same camera. Older men would pose for a shot with Lindsey and their children. We now know what a pain life would be like as a famous person. Eventually, we had to just say no to more photos so we could go back to enjoying the reason we came all this way: to experience the Taj Mahal.

Just one of the hundred or so pics with Lindsey and some local Indians

One of the things that was so impressive about the Taj was the acoustics. The domed marble mausoleum would ring sounds in circular echoes. It was be a fantastic place to bring in an acapella choir!

Gorgeous lighting on gorgeous local people set against a gorgeous landmark

While our trip was short, we had a blast and have concluded that the nicest people on earth come from India. Thanks, Bhutani family!

Link to other photos from New Dehli and Agra:

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Krista on

Wow! I love the Taj really does look photo shopped! Hilarious about Lindsey the movie star, i can see how it would get annoying after a while:)

when in Thailand climbing (i assume you are going to railey (sp?) beach, where all the climbers are) you must try the coconut sticky rice they sell in bamboo tubes on the beach...awesome climbing snack (but dont eat too much...too much rice = not enough pooping!)

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