Monday, April 27, 2009

agra & jaipur, the taj mahal, the raj mandir

in agra, i finally saw the taj mahal. it's way cool. it's so huge and round and elaborate and decadent. the inside is like a big snowy echo cave. you can't hear anything in there, it all echos around into oblivion. actually, i saw a bunch of other stuff, and i think i liked that stuff even better. i think that it size and shape and solitude of the taj mahal is what's amazing to me.

i saw some other tomb, which i don't remember the name of, but i took pictures of it. it was incredible. it was just a big white gold and red mosque/tomb/temple thing. it looked like it was made by bees from cream and scabs and liquid gold.

i also saw the agra fort, which, honestly, i think was the first REALLY sincerely astounding insane thing i've seen in India. i've got pictures, i'll put them up some time. it's like this gigantic, dust red, ornate, curvaceous walled city that's full of these secret quarters and temples. all of the doors are huge thick and wooden, bound with metal, there are big white terraces with honeycomb walls cut out of stone with big golden brass insect shell roofs. there's a part, which is closed now, called the mirror temple (i think) which you can peek at through this door. it's a totally enclosed chamber with tiny holes in the walls that are filled with glittery glass so that all the light comes through these tiny diamond holes, and the interior is all cream & gold colored.

you can stand out on these turret/terrace things that overlook the lower part of the fort, which is basically a giant wall enclosing a huge forest inside of the fort. i guess they've just let a big forest grow inside of this fort. it's totally insane. also, there are some fenced off areas that are like a large open courtyard with tiled floor and a giant, ancient, ragged tree growing in the middle. and one half of the fort is supposed to be off-limits i think, but it's all crumbling and decayed and there are stone stairways that lead to nothing and doorways that just lead straight off the edge of the fort down into the walled forest.

i'll just have to post pictures, it's so crazy.

our driver was a very smokey, surly man named Malik. he was very kind with a smokey deep voice, wrinkled brown face, piercing frog eyes. he drove us around for a day. i need to draw a portrait of him for you to see. i have this strange image of him in my mind, sitting at a rooftop cafe in front of the taj mahal at dusk, smoking a cigarette and offering us deals on tours and then staring out at the city for several minutes.

i think toward the end of the day, he ran out of things for us to do, so he took us to some sleazy upscale jewelry dealers and a fancy clothing store. then to a place where they make marble tables and all kinds of other fine marble objects. the man there was very nice but then became disgustingly set on us buying some very expensive marble bullshit. it was so excruciating and embarrassing, he kept offering me all these things to buy, and i was just like "i do not like this stuff, i dont want it at all, not even a little bit, please stop," but it just went ON AND ON for like 40 minutes, even as i was leaving, and he agreed to not sell me anything else, he suddenly started trying to sell me some figurine. it was horrifying.


so, Laurel and I wanted to see a movie and stumbled upon the illustrious Raj Mandir theatre in Jaipur, purportedly the most divine, extravagant theatre in all of India:

it was so incredible inside. awesome looking. there was this amazing bust in a glass case of a man in a turban and specs, who i think built the thing, and a miniature of the theatre in a case as well, and i didn't photograph them b/c i thought i could find a picture online, but i can't!!! they were so cool looking.

everything in the snack bar was HELLA cheap. they had samosas, weird vegetable burgers, terrible shitty godawful Indian chocolate, popcorn for like 50 cents. the movie ticket was $1.40. the movie was three hours with a 30 minute intermission. all Indian movies have an intermission. hilarious food advertisements before the movie.

the movie was called 8x10 tasveer. it was about a hunky Indian forest service agent living in Canada who has the ability to travel into a photograph and experience the one minute that followed the taking of the photograph. it was really not that good, but a totally lovable hilarious idea for a film. also, every Indian movie I've seen so far involves identity swapping and either twins or plastic surgery to make one guy look like another or Mission Impossible masks or two people who happen to look the same.

here's a ridiculous music video from the end credits for you to watch. it's horrible:

btw, if you hang around in Mumbai, Bollywood agents will approach you, if you are white, and ask you if you want to be an extra in a movie. almost every white person you see in a Bollywood movie, playing a dancer or a villain or something, is just some tourist of the street who gets paid like $2-$5 to be in a movie. it would be SO COOL to be a villain in a Bollywood movie, holy shit. some guy asked me while I was there, but I was leaving in like an hour.

ok, i think i have to go. i still have a lot more stuff to tell about, i'll write at the airport maybe. i am about to embark on like 72 straight hours of traveling, by bus, train and airplane.

1 comment:

  1. That tour scam is everywhere, I was cuationed not ot take a tour from anyone offering one on the street in Thailand, they all end at a jewelery store or tailor store where they wont let you leave or even give you a ride back to your startinng point until you buy something, sorry you had to go through that.