I woke up in the morning and hoped that I had somehow been transported to the Taj Mahal by magic and was not still on this bus….but alas reality. We all kinda looked around to make sure each other was alive and although we were all extremely exhausted the anticipation of seeing the Taj was building.
We get out of the roach coach and are bombarded with offers to take us in the Tuktuk, so we find two and hop in. We had a nice guy who spoke very good English, which honestly is pretty rare for drivers. He asked us where we planned on putting our bags when we visited the Taj. We explained we brought backpacks so we could easily take them. He explained that they were not allowed, only purses and we’d have to find a place…there are no lockers. He suggested this little hotel that was within walking distance. I was honestly too tired not to trust him. He took us to this cute little white and blue hotel. It had the star of David everywhere, which was cool I hadn’t encountered Indian Jews yet. It was 100 Rupees per person and we got a room with a bathroom, which was nice. $100 is 63 rupees so about $1.56 per person. GREAT DEAL. We used the room to change, brush our teeth, and put a little bit of makeup on for the Taj photos then headed out.
The minute we were within feet of the entrance we were swarmed with kids asking us to buy these cute little elephant keychains. All of them were named Johnny and all of them knew how to sell their products in Hindi, Spanish, French and German. It was actually pretty impressive. I saw a few kids with damaged eyes and all I could think of was Slumdog Millionaire, it made me feel sick to my stomach. I wanted to scoop up the kids and take them home with me. We got to see monkeys near the entrance which was adorable, there were even little baby ones. We bought our tickets which came with a free water bottle and booties to put over our shoes. It was scorching out, we were all drenched by the time we made it through security and most of us had finished all of our water already.
We turned the corner and there it was…the Taj Mahal. A wonderful, bright white, marble wonder of the world. We all looked at each other and in different renditions said “it’s kinda small huh?” It wasn’t completely underwhelming, it was really pretty it was just smaller than we all had imagined it. We approached to take our photos and were bombarded again by people offering to take a professional photo….but man finding a spot for that photo was fun. Everyone is on top of each other trying to get that perfect shot. Arabella was so hot and frustrated she didn’t even want a photo, I forced her by taking one when she wasn’t paying attention. I’m a good friend.
We put on the booties and walked into the Taj, there’s a couple tombs in there…not sure who’s because we didn’t want to tip a guide. YOLO. We walked out and decided to sit on the outside marble ledge to take a break. Seven “white” women sitting in a row, we should’ve know this was going to cause a ruckus. I had also picked my skirt up to right above my knee because I was so hot. I’m about to launch a #Freetheknee campaign in India. A couple men come up, place their children in front of us, take some photos, and walk away. A lady approaches Lauren and hands her her baby. Definitely the highlight of the trip. The baby starts crying because that’s what babies do when their Moms hand them to complete strangers. Also, the girls were telling me that babies or little kids have cried just looking at them because their skin is white and they get scared. It’s all pretty hilarious. It seemed like the baby incident was an open call to all the Indian men to now have their turn. 6–10 men started crowding around us with cameras asking to take photos, some not asking at all and just snapping away. I started to cover my face and Lauren told them she was going to charge 100 Rupees, one man took out 100 Rupees. We all laughed as we sort of jogged ourselves out of the situation. For 15 seconds I almost knew what it was like to be a Kardashian.
We headed back to the room to figure out where we were going to eat. We found a little place called Tea’se Me. Clever name, good ratings, non-Indian food…we were sold. When we walked into the restaurant for the first time since I arrived in India I felt like I could’ve been in America or Spain. They were playing loud music, there were misters outside for the heat….MISTERS. They had all kinds of different foods on the menu, even dessert. We were all so excited that they had burgers, all of us got one. No beef here though, it was minced chicken and was HEAVENLY. The fries were delicious too. The ketchup tasted like BBQ sauce, but that didn’t make me flench, it was delicious. Also, they had Coronas…I almost shed a happy tear. After the craziest most awful night, the universe definitely made up for it. The Taj Mahal was cool, but those burgers though!
The founder of the trust had gotten a driver to come pick us up and take us back to Jodhpur. The driver had AC, he didn’t have to say anymore I was sold. For the first hour, I thought this man who’s name was pronounced “Home” was the best driver in all of India. We were safe, nice and cool and could put on music. Sure we were driving 8 people in a 7 seater for 12 hours but still…THANK YOU JESUS. About three hours in it was like he got comfortable and started driving like a maniac. Driving like a maniac is how everyone drives here but this guy had given me such high hopes in that first hour. I think I accidentally called him House instead of Home a couple times, and maybe that’s what did it. We got home in one piece, praise Jesus at 4:30am. I went upstairs and was locked out of my room so I had to wake “the boy” which is what they call the guys who work at the guest house. He helped me and I was finally able to get into my room. Best shower I’ve ever had, 5am…Jodhpur India.