Dec 142013

Today we drove to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.

The drive was extremely interesting.  Getting out of Delhi was the usual mad house, and as we got farther and farther away the traffic slowly died down.  About an hour out of Delhi we got onto their new expressway, and it was just that.  I had joked that Indian Expressway was an oxymoron but once we were on the road about 1/2 hour there was virtually no traffic at all, it was rather amazing after the last couple of days.  We drove for 3 hours through the countryside.  They grow sugar cane, and fruits and vegetables in the area we were in, later in our travels we would encounter fields and fields of mustard and cotton.

Far more interesting to me were the many, many brick factories.  There would be men in the field digging and mixing the clay and forming it into bricks, and in the middle of all of that would be these giant smoke stacks for the firing.  Notice the smoke adding to the already horrendous air pollution of this country.
The other fun thing to come upon were the number of women making cow dung patties.  They mix the dung with the dregs of the sugar cane and apparently you can cook a meal for 2 off of one of these patties.   There would be fields and fields of what appeared to be plates, but you knew otherwise. There is a specialty in this area that cooks in a clay pot all night over the fire of cow dungs, it is supposed to be exceptional, which makes sense as what ever it is, it stews all night at a low temperature.
Driving through Agra was an experience.  I spotted my first monkey here.  They are rhesus macaque monkeys, uuuuuuugly, and pretty much four legged rodents.  
Now that we were out of a metropolis you start to notice garbage.  There would be large fields of household garbage with cows, pigs and monkeys rooting through them.  What is left, of course, are plastic bags and plastic water bottles.  It is a shame, and really horrible to drive through and see not one or two but tens of twenties of these.  
That is the back end of a cow in the forefront
Back to the air pollution.  It is appalling.  I never really thought about it before we left, and really, the world is so busy discussing the air pollution of China there really isn’t much discussion in our press about India’s pollution.  The skies are thick with smoke.  The Indians, like China, burn coal for electricity, but they also arbitrarily burn garbage, and of course in this religious country, they are cremating regularly too, and yes you can see that smoke as well.