Nov 19, 2016

Memoirs of Rangoli ... (p47) - alvida India....

Taj Mahal, Agra
#finally. it was then 10th day of the trip, hence the last day where i'd be departing and back to home. 

the last night in Agra don't have much to shout about, other than me wandering the ghost-mall to buy some last minute souvenirs and watching the happening traditional wedding of the locals, hosted at the street nearby the mall. i went back to the room and then packed up all my stuff, getting readied for the departure on the next morning.

despite the early bed time, me and madan happened to be overslept. was more that we took our time to get up, and then getting ready for the departure. no one came to our door for the wake up call, and the whatsapp group was even silent that morning. i only knew that everybody was already on the bus as i got a call from syib, told me that they were waiting for us. darn! we left agra when it was almost 4am. well...just half-an-hour late from the schedule i.e. 330am, and the journey was nothing fancy other than everybody went back to the rem cycle. it'd be another 4 hours journey to Delhi.

we arrived safely at the airport, and small incident happened due to our big fuss on having a last gathering etc. well..two of us would be departing on the next day and apparently, as like most airport in the world that prone to the safety threat, only passengers flying are allowed to enter.  so we had to be separated earlier instead of meeting again after the luggage check-in. the commotion was luckily agreeable to be stopped, as we even had one of the security heads came etc. and we were still not allowed to gather etc. even, when we, the passengers flying asking to go out from the compound to meet our group, after check in our luggage etc. 

5 hours flight with Malindo Air, back to Malaysia. was a good weather throughout the journey. we arrived KLIA2 around 9pm, we bid good bye to each other, and guess what...few minutes later, the whatsapp group suddenly filled with the local food pictures - tomyam, nasi goreng etc. hehehe...i guess everybody was really missing the malaysian food! we had enough curry, dhal etc. for the past 10 days!
thank you for being patience with me. perhaps my India travelog that spanned almost 50 entries, is the longest tales that i'd ever told in my blog. the telenovela has come to its finale.capice! eventhough, i only had like 9 solid days (as minus the travelling time from and to Malaysia), this journey was such an epic-tales for me, and i had so much things to show, to share and to tell. like the theme of this travel entries - memoirs of rangoli, my journey has been literally as vibrant and colourful, as the colours of rangoli. the culture, the people, the history, the monuments, the food...all speaks its own uniqueness. i am truly not hesitate if i were to ask to go for another voyage on this land of wonders.

India again? i know. but India to me is among the places that you should visit, in defining yourself as a traveler, regardless either you are a flashpacker, backpacker or a tourist on a tourist's bus. the magnitude of the reality of life, particularly, will open up your perspective and pushing your own boundary.
travelling with Rarecation, on the other hand, has broaden my world, meeting with new group of travelers. i was on a limbo, due to some hard decisions and disheartening episodes that happened back then, and as i quoted, my 2-weeks before flying decision, had been among the best things that i had done in my life. the people that i met, and been my travel's buddies were great and crazy, despite it was the first time for most of us to be in such a long journey together. there were ups and lows, but somehow we managed, and it came to my surprise how easy to tolerate things, compared when i was travelling with my close buddies etc.
one thing for sure, my India journey, which somehow sounds like my spiritual journey to overcome my problem, has been my memorable journey, as i could do what i love most about travel - photography. with our kapten, as well known photographer, and a group of people who are not just love to travel, but also photography, i feel like had my reset button being pushed when i turned my dial mode to M on my camera.
smell the roses. was too irony as you would not smell the roses...or even the saffron in this land, other than the reality - stench, spices etc. but my journey with them allowed me to stop from chasing the moment, but made time to smell, to see, and to wander, and to memo-graph. it was totally hit me for a while, as it outdo my flashpacker/backpacker habit that tend to touch base with the destination. the appreciation grew over time. 
even at the first night, it struck me when Syib asked me why i didn't shoot anything yet as we walked towards Kareem's restaurant for our dinner. then we happened to spend time memo-graphing the acts of the cook at Chadni Chowk...we stood beside the busy street of Khaori Baoli...meeting the locals and memo-graph their portrait etc.

India is rich with its history of old kingdoms, hence explaining the existence of many forts and palaces that spread all over the country especially Rajashtan, where we spend most of the time of our trip. i visited few old kingdoms' palaces and forts before, in other places, but what India have, from its old empire, awed me at huge magnitude for many reasons - the size of the places, the details of the architecture etc.
well...if i were to pick among the forts, Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur, perhaps was my admiration. not because of its cameo appearance in the Dark Knight trilogy, but the fort felt majestic as you entered and passed the main gate. once you started to wander around, and look closer to the details of the carving, for example...and the way each rooms and spaces play with lights...etc. it felt such a wonder. 
'Jodhpur!' i answered without hesitation when Syib asked me during the interview, about my favorite places that we had visited for the past few days. despite, this part of the city seemed to be dominant with Hindus, and we had problem to get halal food and had to stick with vegan diet, but i fondly remember the kindness of the people of the blue city, the cheap auto-rickshaw ride, the majestic fort, the memorable night at the desert of Osiyan etc.
The Taj Mahal of Agra. a visit to this iconic place of India finally made a tick on my wishlist. i don't have much things to shout about it. been there and done that. yeay!
so...47 entries. i hope you enjoy this sort of telenovela thingy. pardon me, as again, i don't share much details if you were to plan the trip to india, as i believe there's a lot of travel blog that has shared about it before. whether you like or not, my writings meant to tell my own story of the journey, and details speaks of what i felt, what i remember etc.
i hope you enjoy the photos that i memographed and shared here. my next project will be to produce a coffee table photobook and/or a photo-journal book of this journey. i am a self-obsessed, as i love to see it as a hardcopy where i can browse and glance through, while sipping my latte in the late afternoon etc. hehehe. do you want to buy a copy?

ok. so India will definitely be in my travel wishlist again for the coming years. i want to extend the route as far as Jaisalmer or Amritsar (perhaps border crossing to Lahore), and maybe down to Varanasi to witness its holy festival...well..who knows?

till then! :) and enjoy our theme song of the trip!

Nov 16, 2016

Memoirs of Rangoli ... (p46) - evening at Yamuna River

Yamuna River, Agra
Uttar Pradesh, India
February 2016

well. another rare thing that we did during this trip. spending time while waiting the sunset at the slum part of Agra. we took auto-rickshaw to this part of Agra, which happened to be along the way to the place where we went to watch Taj Mahal early that morning. obviously, the drivers were confused, and even our guide gave a frown as we told about our plan to go there. crazy eh?

our presence caught the attention of the locals that wandering around the area, and then made pass the street vendors that selling stuff like vegetables etc. ah..we saw pigs wandering around, and quickly walked away, passing them. it seemed quiet, the riverbank of Yamuna, that evening. perhaps we were not at the right time to see locals doing their daily chores like washing clothes etc. there.
but the kids were there, doing their usual stuff. and they got excited as seeing us, and asking them to pose for photos etc. one thing that struck me back was the asking for money anthem. and they got quite aggressive as trying to snatch the purse of one of our ladies as she was holding it to take some money to give. Syib immediately told us to be careful with our belongings.
there were few elders that joined us for that evening. but they were just watching, and didn't show any interest, other than letting the kids and us doing our stuff. at one point a man came and had a chat, asking our whereabout etc.  
i saw a girl standing quietly watching her friends orchestrating the day with their laugh and excitement etc. i gave her sign to take her pictures and her sisters. came with a price as they asked me for money. but sort of told them, to wait as i knew, it would attract the group if i gave them the tips openly.

we bid farewell to the kids, as the sun set. we walked pass the pigs, the sellers etc. and the busy road in front of the riverbank, made our way to the auto-rickshaw that was still waiting for us. it was busy time in Agra, and it took a while for us to reach the hotel.
the 9th day of the trip. and the visit to Yamuna river, marked the last group activity for the trip as we later then spent the night at our own after the dinner. i went out to the ghost-mall near the hotel to do last minute shopping at one of the few shops that was still opened, and then strolled along the main street of Agra. i saw there was a wedding celebration next to the mall, complete with the fireworks, musics etc. but i only stood and watched it from afar. i didn't have my camera with me and only memographing the moment with my phone.

as i walked away from the event, i bumped into the driver that took us to the local bazaar near the Jama' Mosque this morning. obviously, it was creepy, as he clearly noticed me and again, playing his trick asking me to bring me to the shops etc. again, at the wee hour. i just firmly declined and then walked away, back to the hotel.


Nov 13, 2016

Memoirs of Rangoli ... (p45) - Agra ... the lost kingdom of Mughal (cont.)

Uttar Pradesh, India
February 2016

we left Agra fort and went back to the hotel. it was time for breakfast, but since it was not included in the room charge, and there was no buffet available, we ordered a'la carte. i had nan with dhal, if i've not mistaken, and gosh..i must say, at any part of india that i'd been in this trip, perhaps this was the best combination of vegan-staples that met my appetite.

we decided to visit the bazaar along the streets near the Jama' Masjid of Agra, to do some last minute shopping. just some tips about shopping in Agra...or perhaps in India.
1. the auto-rickshaw drivers like ours, persistently wanted to bring us to the big shops instead of the local bazaar. reason being, they'd get the commission from the shops. the selection would not be that vast, as you'd be stucked in one big shops. the started with a quantum, but you could negotiate/bargain. try 70% off, for a start. 

2. we experienced this back when we were in Chadni Chowk of Old Delhi...i mean we noticed, when Rahul brought the ladies to a shop, instead of a wholesale malls etc. and he was also insisted to keep us intact with his plan on visiting certain shops etc.

3.obviously, they are very persistent and you really need to be careful with scam or its siblings. money is more than king in this part of the world!
4. we insisted our auto-rickshaw drivers, to bring us to the local bazaars of Agra, instead of their recommended shops. it put some face on theirs, as they were clearly disappointed, but had to agree with us as they knew that somebody else would be on their way, if they declined to take us to the place. we told them not to wait as we would be wandering for a while....and again..they insisted to stay and wait. that was also the same as Rahul's act back when we were in Old Delhi. they wouldn't want to loose you to somebody else.
5. the bazaars along the streets around the Jama' Masjid of Agra...obviously a shopping heaven! especially if you were looking for clothes, fabrics etc. but one thing that we noted was - the price was non-negotiable it was already cheap!

so we arrived, and spent our time...wandering and did some shopping, while memo-graphing the days of locals there.

enjoy the pics!

we paid another visit to the Jama' Masjid, with thought of memo-graphing the locals while waiting for the Friday prayer. it was still early, and there was not much people around, other than local kids, that were excited to see us pointing our camera towards them and asked them to pose etc. i was suddenly being approach by two elders, mumbling something and then asking for money. i wasn't sure it was dubbed as a donation or fee as we were tourists that wandering on their ground. Syib came to rescue the clueless me and we left them, after firmly said no to their request.

we saw our drivers with their frowning face, waiting for us and quickly approaching us, was time to go. and guess what, they brought us to the shops where they planned to bring us earlier. perhaps for sake of commission. well... lucky for them, some of us were still in mood for shopping and did some shopping there.

once settled, we went back to the hotel and ended our services with the drivers for the day. we had our lunch at the hotel and had jama' prayer.  it was then time to rest, as Syib told us that our last activity would be in the evening - watching sunset from the riverbank of Yamuna River.


Nov 12, 2016

Memoirs of Rangoli ... (p44) - Agra ... the lost kingdom of Mughal (cont.)

Taj Mahal, 
Yamuna River, Agra, 
Uttar Pradesh, India
February 2016

i ticked and marked the completion of  'a visit to Taj Mahal' that has been on my bucketlist. i guess i was satisfied with the accomplishment, even though, it left me with a bit of 'meh' expression as i couldn't stomach the mixed stories of its pride and tales, its reason for being there etc. i know, i am exaggerating and sounds pathetic. but i am that kind of traveler that some time sounds like the karl pilkington who unable to appreciate the reason why people 'worship' the historic monuments etc. pardon me.

should you go and pay a visit? obviously yes! it is Taj Mahal.

we went an early morning visit to the riverbank of Yamuna River, to view the iconic monument from afar. and i guess, looking it from afar like that, without so any crowd ( we were the only group there, and a lady traveler) let my 'meh' went away for a while. we were a bit unlucky, as that winter marked a dry season for Agra, which was more that usual as the river was almost non-existent from where we viewed Taj Mahal. the dry land in front of us, somehow disappoint my intention to memo-graph the place with its reflection.

anyway, we noted that the riverbank, as well as the garden next to where we freely view the place were normally a spot to watch the Taj Mahal during sunset, instead of sunrise. the Taj Mahal was told best visited and viewed during the sunrise.  ah...i calculated, the plan wouldn't fit with our schedule, as it was Friday morning, where Taj Mahal is closed to public and only opened for Friday prayer, which could only be attended by locals. 
we left the place around 8am, and then went to visit Agra Fort, another iconic monument that is recommended to visit in Agra. was because i had enough fort visited for the past few days, plus i had Taj Mahal visited the day before to mark the ultimatum of my India visit. Agra fort seemed unable to caught my interest that much, but then it was still a pleasant experience, to wander around. (it was already part of my travel package). 

can you believe it that the fort was actually a 'prison' where Shah Jahan was held by his own son who took over the ruling from him? and the definition of prison was really underrated.

anyway..enjoy the pictures.


Nov 2, 2016

Memoirs of Rangoli ... (p43) - Taj Mahal ... tales of love and pride

Taj Mahal, Agra
Uttar Pradesh, India
February 2016

i only had a quick nap after we checked in our hotel in Agra. it was quite a small room for two of us where i had to manage the space between our luggage and where to pray etc. i woke up and decided to go out. i asked the front desk on the closest ATM for me to withdraw some rupee, as well as to buy the credit for my prepaid. 

i walked out alone from the hotel, charting my way based on the direction given by the front desk. i couldn't recall, whether it was the ATM machine or the prepaid credit that i managed to get first. but for sure the prepaid credit i bought from one of the stall next to the main road of the city of Agra. i was only trying my luck as i saw the signboard of the telco of the prepaid that i was using. perhaps...India or Agra itself was not an alien to the world, hence i didn't have any communication issue. the guy helped me to buy the credit without any fuss.

i visited the mall which located just nearby our hotel, to find the ATM as told by the front desk. was creepy, as the building was like an abandoned with only few shops that were still operating. i was hesitated actually to walk up the stairs and look for the ATM machine as told by the guard of the building, as knowing that there was almost nobody in the building, and any strangers could be a potential nemesis. luckily the ATM was located next to the entertainment centre of the mall..which i think it was the cinema, hence there was few people around the area.

once done withdraw few more rupees...well..i still got plenty that enough for me to survive for the next two days, but knowing that i might need to buy some souvenirs etc. i decided to get some more. as i was walking towards the main entrance, i saw few shops selling clothes and decided to pay a visit. and guess what, i bought a kurta...just to be worn for my OOTD for my visit to the Taj Mahal that afternoon. it was made from cotton, and reasonably priced for me.  

i went back to the hotel, and had my rest while waiting for the lunch time. there was few of us that had early lunch, while half of the group went for a bit later. 
we left the hotel around 2pm, if i've not mistaken to visit the Taj Mahal. as usual, we had a new tour guide. let us called him Sivaji... (sempena menghormati Rajanikath femes film..hahaha). another enthusiastic tour guide, which loved to talk and some time could be a bit controlling as he always insisted us to stay on the path i.e. and kept looking the group whereabouts etc.
so here we are! Taj Mahal, perhaps one of the world most iconic and visited places on earth. its reputation surpasses like everything. people dream and want to tick it off from their wishlist. it is spoken as a symbol of a true love ...and the list goes on.

orang kate...tak lengkap kalau pegi India..tak pegi Taj Mahal, eh?

we left Sivaji, after he gave us some briefing about the place and its history, and told us to meet back at the main entrance before the sunset. 
i had been on the road for the past few days, visited mostly the off the grid destination from the big flock of tourists, and seeing the crowd, as well as queuing for the security screening, and then taking turn to memo-graph the place from its best angle...overwhelmed me. it was too touristy. i mean, people from all over the world were there, and finding their time and space to admire the greatness and pride of this love monument.

i was waiting for my turn to memograph Taj Mahal as above, when an oriental lady tourist was trying to cut the queue. i had to speak and told her to wait for her turn etc. but she was too impatient. i was only pressing my shutter like 2-3 times and i heard she was mumbling...excuse me excuse me etc. and trying to push us aside and made her way to the centre so that she could get the best position.

the late lady-D chair where she posed? well...jangan harap la nak dapat good shot...people was like queuing etc.
one thing that i was bit regret, as i only had my 35mm with me that day. it was hard to put everything into the perspective, and i guess, i had to play the rules of Cartier Brenson to find the right angle, eliminating things etc.

we joined the crowd, queuing and entering the mausoleum, to see how does it looked etc. well...because of no photography is allowed, you seldom or perhaps never seen people sharing the pictures etc. a friend was excited and asked me to go inside and tell her etc.  and guess what - gelap jer dek non! other than you had to walk slowly due to the crowd...the dim or almost no lighting, made you wonder and left most of things for imagination. i tried to find my way out...and breathed the air of Agra again. being inside there, made me claustrophobic! 
we walked around the building, and took our time to memo-graph the place from the guest-house building located on the right side of the Taj Mahal and any possible angle. despite the restoration/maintenance work was on-going, if you can see there were scaffolding being set up around the towers etc. , i can appreciate the perfection of this building. i mean, it was known for its perfect octagon shape, if looked from the aerial view, and i could second the fact as browsing my lcd on every shots of the building that i took from different angle.
the visitors started to leave the place as it was about time to close. i think it was closed around 6pm. and we were happened to be the last group that made our exit from the security gate of Taj Mahal. it gave a lot of fuss to Sivaji and we could see from his face. hehehe. sorry boss..

we took a ride on the horse-cart  from the gate of the Taj Mahal to our bus. and it was almost dark already. do i perceive Taj Mahal from this visit?

is it love that define the greatness of this mausoleum? this Mahal? or is it purely another pride of the old kingdom ruler?people want to be there. it is among the wonders that they want to tick on their wishlist. but it puzzled my heart actually to appreciate and admire the place, as i tried to stomach the reason it was built. for love? for a pride?

nevertheless, as i mentioned, the work of the buidling still awed me at a certain magnitude especially on how symmetrical each side of it that made it look the same from all side as you approach it.

Taj Mahal? ticked!