Sunday, 16 February 2014

First three weeks in India

“I’m going to India” - this thought was dimming in my mind weeks before the date of my departure, and even as days passed by, it still seemed unreal. Mixture of fear and excitement was struggling inside my head with only one to prevail and push me towards entering the plane, which took me for a journey of my life.
As I’m writing this text, its been three weeks since my arrival to Delhi. After sleepless flight my first impression was that everything is chaotic. Unbearable noise of honking cars and howling dogs kept me awake for the first few nights, as for additional impact of jet lag.

 During first week we tried to find ourselves around the neighbourhood which was to become our home for next couple of months, a place to eat, way to the university, plain basics. This was also the time of feeling lost and overwhelmed in and by the city, culture and people. We could feel the looks at our backs, see nodding and pointing in our direction, but as for general observation it’s not different than anywhere else, there are wonderful people here that helped us a lot, people who made us want to stay here, and one no matter how unpleasant look from a stranger isn’t gonna change that.
When the second week came we felt more confident, well rested and ready to see some of the most precious monuments in Delhi.
First one was Red Fort made with beautiful red sandstone and second was Jama Masjid, largest mosque in India. After satisfying first hunger for cultural heritage we wanted more and so we decided to leave Delhi for Agra to witness the beauty of most well-known monument of India - Taj Mahal.
We left on Friday 7th of February before sunrise from our apartment in order to get to the designated train station for time. There were no people nor cars on the street which made traveling easier.

After we arrived to the station and boarded the train I was a bit worried with image of “highly overcrowded coaches” (mildly saying), that everyone can see on the internet, but as it turned out, our first journey by train in India was nothing of a sort and as I was sitting next to the open window with wind in my hair and sun on my face I had a feeling like there are no barriers to keep us from reaching our dreams.
We arrived early in the noon to Agra, took a cab and went straight to the hotel. We left our luggage in a room after short misunderstanding with the hotel owner. As it turned out Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays, we left to see Fort Agra. We went on foot as it was fairly close by, but right at the beginning we took wrong turn and ended in a small, dead end street with houses made of stone, children playing around and… goats wearing some sort of clothes. When we arrived, the monument itself impressed us but was not breath taking.

What was most interesting was the reaction of local people for us. They were literally following us and taking pictures of us, didn’t even bother to make it anyhow discreetly. No more words needed.
The next day was about to become a bit of disappointment. We woke up before sunrise (again) to go and stand in line before Taj Mahal, to see the sunrise above this majestic creation of love, as story of Taj Mahal is a story of deep, pure love of a man for his wife.
The only thing that could possibly ruin the experience that I was waiting so long for was lack of sun because of dense mist, and that is exactly what happened. It was still dark outside, people heading towards Taj Mahal, heavy mist and lights of passing motorbikes created an incredible view of smoothly floating shadows in silence, something that I found strangely fascinating. When the gates opened and we entered I saw it. The mausoleum arose before me and as I stood there admiring the view I knew, that I reached one of those destinations in my life, that brings me one step closer to feel fulfilled.

After roaming around for some time we came back to hotel to check out and take our belongings with us. Before we went back to Delhi we went to see two more places in Agra which provided us with some peace and quiet which are scarce in Delhi. It was a good experience, but sunrise above Taj Mahal is something I need to see before I will leave India, but this time with my love.

And now as third week is coming to an end, during which we’ve seen beautiful Temple of Lotos and Lodhi Gardens in Delhi, I wait for our next, possibly biggest trip to the south of India, to explore its natural beauty.