On the 6th of February, a beautiful cold morning found us waking from bed at 9 AM after a rather stressful previous day’s events (read Day 1 for more details). We got to the conference site via taxi from our hotel, and proceeded to the one of the several reception desks where doctors were given badges according to the numbers assigned to them previously via SMS. Sanju received her guest card, and she got Mom’s card and delegate – kit in advance as she was going to be late. The ophthalmic trade center was our next stop, where we met several friends and also saw a few instruments and investigative modalities.
We had tea at one of the tea stalls, following which I took Sanju into one of the conference halls. The ‘orbit’ sessions were proceeding as expected and Sanju followed them quite well for a person with no medical training. I had a good time explaining things to her, and then we headed for lunch. We tried to catch up with Mom during lunch, which was difficult amongst the enoromous crowd. We finally spotted her in one of the three lunch areas. She was with Devaki Aunty and Dhivya (Aunty’s future daughter – in – law). We discussed about going to the Taj Mahal and things went on as planned.
On reaching the area, we were stopped at a point beyond which our taxi was not allowed. Battery – operated auto rickshaws were then used to transport us for a fee of Rs. 200 (Rs. 20 for each of our tickets plus Rs. 100 for taking us to the Taj). The driver then got down inbetween to get our tickets for us, came back, and drove us to the entrance. We were then assaulted by guides, photographers and sock – sellers. We decided to get the socks which were a form of caps that we doctors wear during surgery. This was required once we entered the marble section of the Taj, wherein we were supposed to adorn the socks over our own footwear. The guides and photographers were persistent, and we finally picked one in both.
Once we got through security, we had to keep our conference bags outside (our guide proceeded to his ‘friend”s shop, saying that they would be safe there). We then returned to the entrance, and proceeded with the others via gardens toward the magnificent red gate that led to the Taj monument.
Once through the gate, we saw the famous view that most photographs portray (even I who had visited the Taj previously twelve years ago was still stunned by its beauty)
The guide went through the process of informing us about the magnificent structure’s history, and the photographer took many pictures, insisting that we need pay only for the ones that we like, which would be printed. I haven’t scanned any of his pictures, but here’s one from my camera:
On stepping into the marble section of the Taj, after wearing the ‘socks’ over our footwear, we couldn’t help but admire its’ serene beauty even with the thousand – odd people milling around us. The river Yamuna, though not really clean, did strike a good pose behind the gigantic structure.
The walk into the grave of Mumtaz was next, but that of the Shah’s was forbidden. After proceeding through dark corridors, I was relieved when we emerged outside again into the sunlight (as these corridors were well known for talented pick – pockets and I had my hands covering my money – bearing – pocket and camera pouch all the while). The paintings and wall – carvings really caught my eye.
We exited the Taj ‘s marble section soon, and we were back in the gardens, where we rested for a while admiring the majestic influence of the monument, under the shade of a tree. Our guide refused to leave us, even though we were there for fifteen minutes. He was rather taken up with my profession and asked me what kind of eye drops he could use for good eye – health. I informed him that it would be better to visit an ophthalmologist and get properly checked before getting any of the 2000 – odd topical medication that exist out there. On the way out, I noticed a beautiful sunset, which I hastily captured.
Once out of the Taj, our guide Raju took us to the place where we left our conference bags. Turned out he had been receiving a commission to lead us there, and to a few more shops which drained around 4k of all our money together. But then, all – in – all we had a great time and the chap didn’t charge us extra for his time, so no harm done. We arrived back to our hotel at 8 PM (how lovely compared to our previous night?) had a pleasant dinner and ran straight off to bed. THE END> what are you looking at? Next day comin’ up!