I usually have something to about most of the cities i've visited or stayed in for a certain period of time. (Sometimes even about cities i haven't visited, but thats a different story)
I've just returned from Agra, with a fresh set of experiences from the city..So this is one in the line of those continuing rants!
Indian or not,,,every person who can call himself educated has heard of the Taj Mahal, and consequently most will know the name Agra. Here are some of the specialties of Agra.
The Taj Mahal
One of the most beautiful building in the world, A sign of undying love and all..I'll leave the description to the professionals and the poets..I'm sure you've heard a lot about this glorified tomb which got everyone in the world to notice Agra. I'll tell you some which you might not have heard..
Legend has it that shahjahan got the thumbs cut off all the builders so that they never build something as great or exquisite as this again.
Rumour has it that The Taj mahal was actually a shiva temple! The rumour has been circulating via email since a long long time..If you didnt receive this fwd yet and are actually interested, contact me, i'll send it to you.
Another Agra speciality, one which has gotten Agra even more famous amongst Indians. This is a unique sweet that almost has a texture like jelly. If you've not tried it,,,you are missing something!
Being 'bhayyan' land that it is, weapons are quite common here. Lots of people end up carrying country made weapons. Someone i know once told me, that in a weddings in their family in UP, pretty much every guy 15 and above has some or the other type of gun in their hand!! And they go around wildly firing them into the sky during the celebrations. Considering that its UP, i didnt think his claims were too far fetched!
Another trait of bhayyan land. Any car can be equipped with a siren! If it is bolero/sumo/qualis etc belonging to UP, then it comes factory fitted with them special for UP. Some people go that extra step and even fit one of those red flashing bulbs on the car. Basically,,,whether you have registered or not, you have to get a siren, and every time u want to go fast or zip through traffic, you turn it on. Because there are soooo many sirens blaring all around, not many people care, but then, it gets you more noticed than a horn, right! And more so, if you have a siren on the car, the cop won't stop you even if u run over 25 people.. So its all good!!
There's something interesting and sometimes even unique about the roads/traffic in every place. But this place is just awesome. This wasnt in Agra, but close to it on the way on NH2.
There was a bridge. On one side it got damaged. Normal people would repair the bridge and continue with life. Lazy people would close that side of the bridge and only use the other side for both ways of traffic. Now the people here are special. So what they do, they put a bloody red light in the middle of the bridge!! So we have 18-wheeler trucks coming in and waiting on the upslope! The driver says, THIS red light is not for stopping, but it means that we have to slow down while we shift to the other side of the bridge! A new definition, but we're no one to question it. Now as if this nonsense wasn't enough, the day we went, there was a baraat coming in on the wrong side!! They were walking/dancing in the lane that was so generously gifted to us on the other side of the road! A baraat going on a bridge/flyover is unheard of anyways, but one on the NH in a place like that!! The only thing we could say is,,this can happen only in UP!!
This is the most enjoyable thing about Agra. Let me explain. I had to get to some place in Agra.
The conversation with every person i asked for directions was something like
Me-->"bhai saahab, ye kheria mod kis taraf padega?"
person telling way-->"Aap aise jao"(showing some gestures similar to the above shown gestures or sometimes no gesture at all)
person--> " bas, wahaa se aap siddha nikal jao", (followed by a similar gesture)
Me-->"phir wahaa se seedha kitni dur??"
person-->"bas ji seedha nikal jao, yehi koi X kms hai". (X ranging from 0.5 to 10!!)
When the first couple of ppl told me this i thought that Agra is a small place so the road must actually be going that way. But the destination was nowhere in sight! Finally, after asking about 15 ppl and 1 hr of travel i reached. Each person gave me directions in the exact same way!!! Not one of them every used the words "left","right","daaya" or "baaya". (For all you ppl who are weak in hindi. "daaya"-right turn. "baaya"-left turn, and "siddha"-> go straight, the way it is said in agra.)
The people in Agra have solved all problems of travel !! Noone needs any GPS or SatNav or even a map. Everything is "siddha".. Wherever you want to go, its just one twisted hand and straight all the way!! "All roads lead to Rome",it was once said. Agra is much greater, cos even in Agra, all roads lead siddha to wherever you want to go!!
Some of the ppl in my office recollect with great fervour, the time when they were in Agra, and reached a dead end and asked for directions. The guy says, "aap bas seeddha nikal jao" pointing his hand towards the dead end gradually making the hand take a U-Turn and then some other turn. But who cared,,it was all siddha!!!
It is said that most females are bad at directions and at maps.(Some of them i know are pretty good at them though). Apparently most guys don't stop to ask for directions.(Another generalization which i don't totally agree with). But Maybe this idea of simplified travel is another tribute in honour of "shah jahan's eternal monument of love", the tribute of the people of Agra to lovers, by stopping fights between the guys who dont ask for directions and the females who can't follow them!! Everything is just siddha!!