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Karen and Blip go to India with Intrepid

Karen and Blip go to India with Intrepid

Dec 28th, 2010, 01:18 PM
  #41  
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Cali - yes, good idea. I've read The Namesake, but have movie.

I've just started reading Shantaram, and although it takes place in Mumbai (where I didn't go), I'm loving it!
althom1122 is offline  
Dec 28th, 2010, 07:10 PM
  #42  
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That's "but have NOT SEEN the movie."
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Dec 29th, 2010, 01:09 AM
  #43  
 
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You'll love film of "The Namesake" Terrific scenes of Calcutta.The kind of train wreck that is in the movie (and book) happens all too often in INdia. There was another one a couple months ago.
Shantaream--i loved it too at first, but later it was too long for me. Did you know there are plans for a movie with Johnny Depp playing the lead?
CaliNurse is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 06:54 AM
  #44  
 
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Sorry to say, but the film has been shelved: independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/the-diary-shantaram-film--lumiere-festival-tom-atkinson-hans-holbein-harold-evans-1819450.html
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Dec 29th, 2010, 06:56 AM
  #45  
 
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I thought the movie "The Namesake" was as good as the book. The colors and scenery were wonderful.
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Dec 29th, 2010, 02:02 PM
  #46  
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Agra

Monday morning we had an early start for our bus (more like a van) ride to Agra. It was about 4 hours or so, with a brief toilet/snack stop (the only time on the entire trip I had cookies and candy - er, biscuits and lollies, as the Aussies said.

Driving into Agra it was clear that this was a rougher, dirtier (poorer?) town than Jaipur or even Delhi. Our hotel was the Grand Casa. It was drab and dingy but reasonably clean and there was hot water (once you figured out to turn on the hot water heater over the toilet and then turn the handle in the shower).

We walked to a restaurant for a quick snack/lunch, I changed into my Indian blouse (purchased for $7 for Bollywood night) and we headed for the Red Fort. There were a lot of touts outside pushing books and various trinkets, and I was afraid of seeing charmers - but there weren't any - just red-bottom monkeys running along the railing of the bridge over the moat. It was another beautiful day and the sun made the Red Fort live up to its name.

Our local guide was terrific - good English and great stories. He told us about the King and his amorous relationships. He told the guy in our group to be careful of Viagra because supposedly the King was with either a mistress or the queen in bed and...

Our group never did settle on how the story ended. Some of us thought the guide said the King "died with a heart attack" while others were equally sure he'd said the King "died with a hard d___" Either way, it was pretty amusing.

He also told us the romantic story of the Taj Mahal, which we could see off in the distance from one of the viewpoints - that a queen on her deathbed, after having given birth to her 14th child, requested three things: 1. that the king would not remarry 2. that he would raise all 14 children equally and 3. that he would build a monument in her memory (so he'd have a project to keep him going). He built the Taj Mahal over the next 32 years (one year per turret) and lived up to all three of her wishes. Her body was moved to the Taj upon its completion, and the king was later buried there after his death many years later. (This is guide, by the way, does offer independent tours, so if anyone is interested I'll dig out his card with contact info.)

So with that, we were all set for the Taj! What can I say? It lived up to all the hype! I was afraid it might be over-the-top tacky. But not so. It's gorgeous - it looks just like it looks if you know what I mean. Almost dream-like. A mirage, perhaps? It was a "wow". The inside, though, was something of a disappointment. I had assumed it was equally sumptuous on the inside. I don't think I realized it was a monument - I thought it was a palace.

Anyway, we put on the little slippers to cover our shoes and strolled down the long lane, snapping pictures like crazy. We were on our own for the Taj, as Tej (or Tej Mahaly, as one of tour members called him, waited on the outside for us). I ended up with Sydney and Robyn to bask in the beauty of the place, and the three of us explored together. Here, too, people kept wanting their picture taken with us. We remained celebrities throughout the trip.

We remained until just after sunset - and as the stone turned to amber, we headed back to the entrance to meet up with Tej and the gang.

That evening we had dinner at a little outdoor, rooftop restaurant with low tables. We ate family style (shared dishes) and everyone shared their story of love - by this time the group had really bonded and it was a wonderful evening. Somehow the entire trip reminded me of going to summer camp as a teenage - the camaraderie, the new experiences, the easy friendships. It was awesome - I certainly felt the exuberance of a child during much of the trip!

We then headed back to the hotel for some sleep.

Next up: the small town of Orccha.
althom1122 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 02:32 PM
  #47  
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Pictures for Agra:

http://kbutler1122.zenfolio.com/p832299935
althom1122 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 03:21 PM
  #48  
 
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What fabulous pictures - so clear and vivid - can I ask what type of camera you have?
Also your tour sounds quite nice - I would not attempt India on my own either and this tour seems quite interesting. It really looks like your group got along so well.
Mara is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 03:31 PM
  #49  
 
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Karen, I'm absolutely loving your report! Although we traveled differenty, I can definitely relate to the wonderful experience you had, and the love for India that is apparent in your report and photos. I met several people on an Intrepid Tour while I was there, and they were having a great time.
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Dec 29th, 2010, 05:29 PM
  #50  
 
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Your fans await the next installment!
dgunbug is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 07:02 PM
  #51  
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Oh dear, I forgot to tell you about "the Taj Tragedy" -- after all my talk about taking Blip to India in large part to get his picture in front of the Taj Mahal.... he got left in the van! What happened was Tej told us we weren't allowed to take backpacks into the Taj - that basically all we could carry was our camera and possibly a small purse (depending on how strict they were that day). So I left my small backpack in the van, and only later, while we were taking pictures of me jumping in front of the Taj Mahal, realized that Blip was in the backpack in the van! He was so ticked off! I assuaged him later, though, by taking him to the erotic temples at Khajuraho. (More on that later.)

Thanks for all the positive feedback!

Mara - I had two cameras, a Panasonic FZ-100 with a long zoom lens and a small Canon S-95. Both did reasonably well, but don't have the quality of a DSLR. I do a little bit of post-processing using iPhoto, but they're still noisier than I'd like and don't have quite the detail of a more expensive camera with a larger sensor. I'm thinking about getting a better camera for my next trip. The S-95 is small and convenient, but there's a lag to the shutter that is frustrating when trying to get off a quick shot. Check out Nutella's pictures - they're stunning!

I'll write some more tomorrow.
althom1122 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 07:49 PM
  #52  
 
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i love the agra pics....so clear and nicely framed....

i booked my fall india trip today so i am excited after re-visiting agra thru your pics...

bob
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 08:04 PM
  #53  
 
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Karen - so sad to hear that Blip missed his photo opportunity by the Taj, but loved seeing you jumping for joy! Can't wait to see your pics of Blip in front of the erotic temples. You are too funny!!!

I booked my tickets for India also today, but unfortunately my husband insisted that September/October would be the only time he could get away. While it won't be ideal weather, I'll suck it up and try to have a good time. (Poor me!!! - can't wait to get to India) Bob - I'm sorry that we will not be meeting up, but I'll try to report back to you before you leave. What dates did you get? We leave Sept 14 and return Oct 10.
dgunbug is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 08:11 PM
  #54  
 
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Well then, Karen...you'll just HAVE to return to India with another visit to Taj Mahal for Blip.
CaliNurse is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 08:12 PM
  #55  
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Thanks, dgunbug. It took Sydney about five tries to get a shot where I was actually in the air. I kept jumping and jumping. Locals would pass by and smile at me and I'd just keep jumping.

It was amazing, by the way, how very few Western tourists we saw anywhere in India. More in Varanasi than anywhere else. But even at the Taj Mahal we didn't see hardly any other Westerners. (Maybe that's why we were such a popular item for photos!)
althom1122 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 08:16 PM
  #56  
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LOL, Cali! Blip would love that. (I would, too!)
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Dec 30th, 2010, 09:28 AM
  #57  
 
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You could probably photo shop Blip into the picture in front of the Taj!
dgunbug is offline  
Dec 30th, 2010, 11:50 AM
  #58  
 
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Karen: you had a much clearer weather in Agra (well, most places actually) than we did in late November....our Taj shots appear "in the mist" (it was actually smog) -- but it was gorgeous nonetheless.

I found the interior of the Taj to be the worst experience of my trip -- it had rained for 2 days before our visit and the Taj would be closed the following day (Friday), so it was VERY crowded and the lines to go inside wrapped around the building. Once you got inside there was NO lighting and it was so dark you couldn't see anything (I'm not buying the idea that any light will damage inlaid STONE) and, worst of all, the police kept blowing their shrill whistles to keep poeple moving -- with the echoes off the marble it was actually painful.
skibumette is offline  
Dec 30th, 2010, 01:43 PM
  #59  
 
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Lovely pictures.
It's fun to see you having so much joy on your trip.

Too bad Blip did not get his picture taken at the Taj....things happen for a reason....just means you have to go back to India again so Blip doesn't miss a thing next time.

Can't wait to see what Blip was upto at the erotic temples!!
magical is offline  
Dec 30th, 2010, 01:51 PM
  #60  
 
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Skibummette, that sounds claustrophobic!
Many tour guides carry small bright flashlights to focus on the interior inlay. We were lucky--there were few people inside when we went June, and it was cooler (temp) inside than out.
Magical, LOL re Blip and the erotic temples. Good thing he isnt a stuffed rabbit...you know how those creatures are!
Blip, you are getting a reputation on Fodors! Though a Sheep, you're giving a naughty creature named Dog a run for his money!
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