Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sightseeing and the Temple Gates

Sightseeing has not been on my agenda for this trip, so it is a
welcomed but also interesting experience.

So far in India, I have really experienced life as a local and have
definitely not been to the sights, treated like a tourist or even
behaved like a tourist. This weekend I was thrown into a whirlwind of
something different, of how most foreigners view this country.

After being scammed, ripped off and taken for a ride, I can
comfortably say that my trip here could not have been complete without it and has added a beautiful dimension to my stay. From touts sending you in a direction of a 'tourist information' centre, where they are on commission for any things that they manage to talk you in to.

Rickshaw and taxi drivers who literally times their fare by at least 5
for anyone that looks different, or men in the market groping you
because they think they all somehow makes India beautiful,
unique and intriguing.

India is wonderfully disorganised, and I don't even know if they know
it. It is something that you resolve to and it all becomes a part of
your India experience. Standing in the train station line to buy
tickets to Agra is a prime example of how un systematic their
'systems' are. Out of 20 lanes open, one was for woman, I joined the
back of the line and was quickly squeezed forward by another that
joined behind me. Suddenly, wrapping her arms around my waist and
holding me, I was alarmed at this stranger and her serious lack in
physical boundaries, then I glanced forward and noticed that every
woman in line was doing this and soon it became apparent why.

Woman try to push and barge their way to the front or try to get others to
buy their tickets so woman stand strong, united in their line
formation and determined to keep their places. But as I got closer and
closer to the front I noticed all these people that seemed to be
'legitimately' pushing in, and it seems that they were allowed to by
the strong woman standing their ground. Men and woman were pushing
their way to the front, crowding the window and buying tickets on the
side of where the actual line was and I then found out that these
people are buying coupons. So, you can board a train with coupons or
tickets, if you're buying a ticket then you have to line up, but ifyou're buying coupons you have every right to push your way forward. So why doesn't everyone buy coupons?! After a long, squished wait time of 50 minutes, I finally arrived at the front and was told I was in
the wrong line. Hah! I assumed I was in the right line since it was
the only womans, and this is where they sold train tickets. But...this
is only where they sold train tickets to Indians, and I had to
therefore go to the International Tourist Bureau to get my more
overpriced tickets. I went there and it was closed. A friendly
gentleman pointed me to another one which just happened to be where he

To cut a long story short, it ended up that I hired a private car with
a friend, to take us to Agra which is where the Taj Mahal is. No
trains were available and I needed to do it, I came here to do it. So,
after dodging traffic for 4 1/2 hours on a long, straight and busy
road, I found myself standing at the gate of the mighty Taj.

Included in the car price was a guide and he met us there, we walked
in and we were faced with the images that we had seen all our lives.
The beauty was inescapable and every bit as amazing as you would
imagine. Except, I got to see it in person, with my own eyes and it
came the paper and it was so breathtaking. We did not have
a beautiful blue sky, but one of white fog and it seemed it gently
blended into the background, but yet protrudes out to meet you.

It is just a sight, it is just something else in this world that isbeautiful, but I'm glad that I got to experience and see it. Like the
pyramids of Egypt, the structures of Olympia, Vatican City and ancient
Rome and the white terraces of Pammukale, they will be a once in a
lifetime trip. I won't come here or do this again - so it is fun that
I have been.

I also have had time to explore Old Delhi, with forts, tombs, mosques,
temples and bad electric wiring, with streets and rows of buildings
connected by hundreds of lines of electricity between them, crossing
roads and dangling from every corner. I was able to imagine how life
was, and really how life still is for many, many people.

One scene really threw me back to bible times actually. There was a
long, narrow road with markets down either side, bustling with people,
children and all sorts of livestock. There were areas of grass that
people were selling their most prized goats, pigs and chickens, and it
was buzzing with life. At the very top of the road was a temple, up
raised on a hill and overlooking the market place. After moving my way
through the busy, non-touristy market, climbing the stairs and going
into the temple, I came out of the gate around 3pm, and there, sitting
right at the gate were lame men - blind and deformed. Immediately I
was taken to the passage at the gate called Beautiful where Peter
called upon the man to 'Look at us!...Silver and gold I do not have,
but what I do have I give to you'.

As I slowly walked away, I was contemplating that story, the whole
scene that I was just in that almost mirrored exactly what Peter had
encountered that day, and I was disappointed in myself. Here I am -
having the answer to abundant and beautiful life, full of grace and
freedom and I did not have to boldness or tenacity to simply say 'look
at me!' and help them up.

Imagine if I did?

What would happen?

Would the Lord heal them?

Would the men turn to faith in Christ?

Would it mean that the people would be in 'awe and wonder'?

It just makes you think...

It makes me believe that it is possible. It gets me excited and expectant.

Look at me! There is power in that.

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