Monkeys love Orange Soda

Who knew???

I made it to Agra, home of the world’s most beautiful building, the Taj Mahal. It was everything I was told it would be, awe-inspiring, worn, and packed with tourists and touts… But I was there, SEEING THE TAJ MAHAL!!!! Doing what absolutely everyone else does when they come to visit, taking a ridiculous number of pictures … the whole palace, part of the palace, me with the whole palace, me with part of the palace, with this light, with lots of people,  oh look the haze is starting to clear up … no less than 100 pictures later, I share with you this one.

But believe it or not there is more to see in Agra than the famed testament to love… there’s the Itimad-ud-Daulah which is referred to as the Baby Taj. Obviously it is much smaller but it is also easier to see. It’s a quiet respite after the noise and the crowds of the Taj and the city of Agra.

There’s also the Agra Fort, which is somewhat a kin to the more well-known Red Fort in Delhi and gorgeous all the same.

But even with all the beauty, the scary monkeys still stole the show. Shamelessly putting their personalities on full display for all us tourists to see …

The mother instinct seems present in all species … but so does a feisty spirited nature…

We were walking into the Agra Fort, there was one of those subtle disturbances … an audible gasp was heard and the crowd parted ,,, out through the opening came sprinting none other than a monkey clinching the freshly stolen orange soda bottle from an unsuspecting tourist …

He found an open area of cement planted himself down and instantly became the tour’s highlight as we turned our back to the fort and put all eyes on him…

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Joy, sorrow and the basics of everyday…

Welcome to the Ganges! The holy river of Northern India where one trip thru the city of Varanasi on a boat will reveal a whole spectrum of human realities and ritual both religious and benign…

The holy city of Varanasi is all at once picturesque and haunting, powerful and intimate… All the sights, sounds and smells to someone like me create a real clash or dare I say, cacophony, but to the faithful believer the rhythmic harmony of life is played out at the Ghats of the Ganges. There is a never ending stream of bather’s lathering up, what seems like the entire cities laundry being washed, cows coming to cool themselves, bodies being burned for Hindu cremation, garlands of flowers placed in the river for hopes and dreams, children playing, people working, and a ton of wide-eyed tourists not sure of what to make of it all.

It’s a microcosm of the India I am learning to love, where everything that we neatly characterize and separate in the west collides expectantly as a natural rhythm of life here. Now I don’t want to sound overly romantic, because believe me some of the aromatic qualities of this rhythm are definitely not romantic, in fact they can be just plane foul. But there is something real and raw about life here; in so many ways it’s right in front of you. And you get to decide what you’ll do with it…

Will you concentrate on the stacks of timber used at funerals?

Will you get caught up in the architecture or the landscape?

Will you notice the religious bathers and the women who want their photo taken?

Will you see the faces of these happy kids who found some things that most of us would throw away and made it into the best toy a young boy could hope for?

What will you see?