Are you still with me or do you feel like this goat? We’re almost done with Agra and its monuments and then we hit the road to Rajasthan. Rajasthan will be forts, forts and more forts! Maybe then you’ll feel like this goat. I felt like this goat towards the end of our exploration of Akbar’s abandoned capital of Fatehpur Sikri. I wore a hat and thought I had hydrated properly but silly me. Later that night the heat exhaustion caught up with me and I learned my lesson.
Beginning in 1571 Akbar assimilated Persian and Indian architecture to create an outstanding collection of red sandstone buildings, more jewels of the Mughal empire, which became known as Fatehpur Sikri. Unfortunately fresh water was not readily available so shortly after it was completed in 1585, everyone left. Nowadays it’s a thriving tourist destination with many notable buildings but highlights include an impressive entrance, the Buland Darwaza, a mosque, Jama Masjid and the white marble Tomb of Salim Chishti, a Sufi saint. Salim Chishti was revered by Akbar for blessing him with three sons. Since the saint can perform miracles you will see red threads, representing wishes, prayers, hopes tied to the screens that surround his tomb. It is rumored that Salim Chishti is especially helpful in matters of fertility so there were lots of ladies circulating when we were there. More
In mid-August 2011 I traveled to India for the first time. We flew in and out of New Delhi but our destination was Rajasthan. I like the flight maps feature on airplanes. You can see how far you have to go and how many more movies you can cram into the flight.
The best movie to get you in the mood for Rajasthan is Jodhaa Akbar. Hrithik Roshan stars as Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Jodhaa, a Rajput princess from Amer. It’s the classic tale of a marriage made for political alliance where she dislikes him and he is sort of interested in her. Of course they reveal their true selves and slowly fall in love. It’s the closest you can get to a illustration of what it was like in 16th century royal India. It’s one of my favorite movies and luckily the lead actors are easy to look at.
When you hear about Kabul or Karachi you know they’re a point on a map, thousands of miles away, but until you’re close to them physically they become real. I kept looking out the window to see if I could make out something to reinforce this but the clouds prevented it. I knew that India would be unlike anywhere or anything I had seen but until we were there nothing could prepare me. The trip was amazing. It was hard at times but if you can travel, you should. If your mind is open, the world is an interesting place.
We arrived in the evening so we checked in to our hotel, ate dinner and went to sleep. The next day was devoted to seeing Old Delhi. Old Delhi is exactly how it sounds–the older, historical part of town. We saw the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid and the Qutub Minar, plus we had a nice rickshaw excursion. Since I have thousands of pictures we’ll cover the Red Fort and Jama Masjid today with some sights here and there thrown in. More
I consider myself lucky in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. My apartment wasn’t flooded and I have power and running water again. I lost nothing valuable. I thought about not writing about my experience last week since it’s nothing like what people in the Rockaways, Coney Island, Red Hook, Staten Island, the Jersey Shore or Long Island are going through but it was something nonetheless.
A week ago Sunday we were warned about Hurricane Sandy’s arrival in a part of the U.S. that should not get hurricanes. Frigid temperatures, snow, rain, heat and humidity but surely not hurricanes. Growing up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in the late 80s through 1996 I saw my fair share of tropical storms and hurricanes. Hurricane Hugo in 1989 was the most memorable. My family chose to evacuate to a hospital about 1-2 hours inland (Myrtle Beach is essentially an island created when they built the Intracoastal Waterway). We filled up the bathtubs with water to flush the toilets and made sure we had flashlights, drinking water, candles and non-perishable food. After Hugo hit we drove back to the Beach only to be stopped by the National Guard who didn’t care if my stepdad was an emergency medicine physician who could help people. Eventually, after 1 hour of negotiation, they let us through and we made our way back home. Since we lived in a cul-de-sac the neighbors dragged out their charcoal and gas grills and for a few days of fun cookouts. Then came the peanut butter and jelly. With all the downed power lines, fallen trees and debris I think it took a week for us to regain power. My parents vowed never to evacuate again if another hurricane threatened us. We never had to. They’ve had other bad storms since, nothing quite like Hugo, but a curious thing has happened in the weather pattern which I’ll get to.
So I was sitting in my NY apartment watching everyone on TV go on about this Hurricane Sandy. I was planning on riding out the storm at my bf’s place in the Financial District, Lower Manhattan. I wasn’t really concerned about Sandy. It’s New York. Sandy is only a Category 1 so how bad can it be? Plus I wasn’t sure who to believe because every storm gets elevated to world ending leaving me unsure how to evaluate these things. Leave it to my parents to change my thinking. As I was calmly getting my things organized they called to tell me that I needed to move all my things to higher ground. I chuckled incredulously at their suggestion that my apartment would get flooded. Not me, not here. Their concern of me staying at my bf’s 38th floor apartment for this incoming storm didn’t sink in. Well it did in the end. I hung up the phone crying out of panic because now I was really confused about what was coming. I called the super of my building and he said we wouldn’t get flooded. I checked the NYC Evacuation Zone map and since I was in Zone C I felt reassured. I grabbed my bag and headed downtown. More