Day 254b… the Taj

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Then its back on the bus to check out a rug making factory and watch how these truly old school carpets are made… taking 3 months and 1 weaver to a year and 4 wevers, the ladies in outlying villages get income from these gorgeous woven rugs. They are even 90-95% illiterate out there so the factory sends them physical 1-to-1 scale designs on graph paper to follow… and they sing the design as they weave. Yes sing. They essentially chant the colour, the stitches/knots and the gaps to leave as they go so that everyone is on the same page and no stitches are dropped. Amazing. And we get a wonderful morning tea/brunch of traditional massage chai tea, fried pastries with sweet curry sauce and a banana. And in a stroke of pure genius… they (& I discover quote a few other places in india) use bowls made of leaves! Exact shape of plastic picnic bowls… obviously they use those on a more permanent basis as moulds to shape the leaves. Brilliant recycling technology! Old school solution to a serious problem. The rest of the planet needs of pay attention here!

NOW we get to check in to the hotel before grabbing lunch and back on the bus to visit the fabled Taj Mahal – a masterpiece of shimmering white marble set amid beautiful formal gardens. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz, this ‘teardrop on the face of eternity’ (as it was described by writer Rabindranath Tagore) lives up to all expectations. Totally symmetric with towers built at a gentle 2° angle so any disaster means they fall away from the temple, the Taj is everything I expected… just gorgeous. It also pays to pay more as as westerner here assessment the VIP fast line knocks out a good 2 hour queue wait. Tops. We also get a mini free tour guide with the ticket… a lovely bearded old guy and our suave Indian tour guide organises a private photographer as well. After we leave we are accosted by the hawkers, nice enuff, and see a bunch of wedding processions as it wedding season in india, and they are quite the affair. Grooms on horseback, flower garlands, light trees on the shoulders of the light bearers and a giant set of speakers with music on a truck with the business end of tubas poking out of them amplifying the music and looking for all the world like pimped out steam punk rocketships. Oh… and at the Taj we saw our 1st close up monkey walking around… mangy thing covered in open sores… but he was there.

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