The best way to see the Taj Mahal

You can’t go all the way to India and not visit the Taj Mahal.

That was our thinking when we planned an excursion from Bangalore in Southern India to Agra in the north.

But in ways, it is easier to get from Nashville, Tenn., to the other side of the world. (And that’s saying something.)

Our journey involved planes, trains and automobiles – plus rickshaws and camels. It featured scam artists, 100-degree heat, lost luggage, groping and leering. People (my mother) panicked. Other people (me) cried.

By the end, I had two thoughts. One: I want all my friends who think I’m a princess to see if they can handle what my family experienced. Two: I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

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My daughter and I: Where we’ve gone together

Lily and me outside a 14th c mosque in old Delhi

We measured Lily the day before we left Nashville for Bangalore.

We measured her against the living room wall at my former in-laws’ house, where we gathered for Fathers Day with my parents, my ex-husband and his parents, his brother and brother’s wife, and her father.

Our family is complicated, and our Lily is five feet tall.

During our trip to India, she bloomed. Continue reading

Shopping in India and the nature of flirting

The peacock is the national bird of India.

That makes sense. India, like the bird, is colorful and demonstrative, flamboyant and proud.

I learned this today from Farhat Jan, who sold me a lovely ceramic bowl with an inlaid peacock motif. He works at Cottage Industries Exposition in Mysore, which is a great place to buy textiles and other handicrafts.

The quality and selection are very nice, there is no pressure to buy, and Farhat and jeweler Tariq have excellent taste. They will also totally flatter and spoil a lady, bringing her as many cups of chai tea and engaging in as many odd conversations as she pleases.

During my two hours or so in his store, Farhat and I discussed everything from yoga and American running clothes to my daughter’s fascination with the Hindu god Ganesha (the “Elephant God”).

Tariq and I, meanwhile, spoke of American women’s propensity to overthink relationships.

“Do I want to be with him? Do I love him? Do I want to marry him? In India, it’s the other way around,” he said.

I found myself flirting.

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