And the Taj Mahal was all that I’d hoped it would be. Of course, it’s the image everyone conjures when imagining a trip to India. Mohit had already visited two or three times before on his previous trips, and it was solely for my benefit that we’d made this long day trip from Delhi. I was nervous the Taj would be a let-down, since it’s just another big building that’s slowly being eaten away by acid rain and air pollution. But as we passed through the shadow of the red sandstone gateway, that first glimpse of the gleaming white domes and perfect minarets made me catch my breath. It truly is the most perfect, incredibly beautiful piece of architecture I’ve ever seen.
I’m sure our photos don’t convey the awesome beauty and simplicity, but I don’t know what more to say about it. We sat and just soaked it all in until the sun set and the guards started shooing everyone out.
When Sameer dropped us off at the station for our nighttime train back to Delhi, he was still apologizing and still telling us over and over again to “Smile sir! Smile madam!” He was clearly angling for a tip, despite his erratic behavior. “I so sorry sir, I very bad. Very very sorry sir.” He took Mohit’s hand, pressed it to his heart, then pressed it to his cheek. I though he was going to kiss it. In the end, we gave him 100 rupees (about $2), mostly because we were so glad to be rid of him, and didn’t want him chasing us down. Agra definitely good, driver definitely crazy.