Back from my adventures – so many tales to tell

tajheader

With a crashing anti-climax I’m back in the UK and it’s raining. I don’t really mind though, one of the things I’ve learnt over the last few weeks is just how lucky I am to have a solid, tiled roof over my head. For the past three weeks I’ve been traveling with film maker Andrew Martin, hanging around inner city schools, isolated villages, maternity wards and drinking endless cups of sweet tea, a mark of hospitality anywhere you go in India or Nepal.

Mostly I’ve been keeping my mouth shut, listening and absorbing, but I’ve also had the chance to talk to some truly amazing people. I’ve been quizzed on the Battle of Trafalger by an old man in a village in the Punjab and I’ve discussed Nepalese politics on the roof of a half built hotel in the Terai under a starry night sky. It’s a real shame that I didn’t manage to blog anything whilst I was out there because despite keeping a journal it’s hard to now recall the details. I wish I could recreate the musical crescendo played by lorries and cars as they charge at each other down Nepal’s (single lane) Western highway, each one a totally different string of notes and everyone seemingly determined to demonstrate them to all other road users.

Hopefully I’ll write up some of the more bizarre events that I’ve experienced whilst away and not get bored or simply forget what happened. For now I’ll just say that it was a trip of massive contrasts, of extreme opposites, moments of delight and horror. The Taj Mahal in Argra is a case in point. The Taj Mahal is done a great disservice by photography. For a start it’s so massive the only way to capture the whole building is through that shot up the garden over the ponds that everyone is familiar is.

The Money Shot

The Money Shot

The Other Side

The Other Side

This cannot possibly do it justice, I’m not easily impressed by buildings, but this place is utterly breathtaking. Not only is the tomb itself vast, but the fortresses that flank it, the gardens that run up to it, the minarets at it’s corners and the gate you pass through before you can even see the main event, are all beauties in their own right. I was left dumbstruck, a commendable achievement some might say. But the flipside; as you walk beyond the outer wall of the Taj Mahal area, through the North gate, you enter a much more typical area of Argra, old cramped buildings, shops and people spilling into the street, scooters, rickshaws and pedestrians jostling for space on narrow, broken lanes. The contrast with the majesty of the palace beyond those high walls couldn’t be more stark. Where the Taj Mahal is surrounded by a reverential aura, a place of worship in death, this place is a buzz with life even if much of it is sustained by the tourist lure of the Taj. It’s difficult to describe – if you get the chance go!

The most important thing I’ve learnt (and it’s all about what you take away from experiences like this) is how unbelievably lucky I am. The last few weeks have taught me a lot about how the rest of the world works and I am very priviledged indeed to have witnessed it. More tales of my adventures to come.

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1 Response to “Back from my adventures – so many tales to tell”


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