11:30 am

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Watching parakeets flit around the city of Fatehphur Sikri. It was abandoned after only 50 years of use when the well ran dry and the palaces and mosques are evocative in their ruin. We got here pretty early after leaving the hellish Agra traffic (notables sited: a goat wearing a tiny sweater, a rickshaw with a large shrine to Andy Sandburg on the back [to my dying day I will be bitter I wasn't able to capture a photo] and a full family of 6 all squeezed in a single motorbike).

The city itself is breathtaking but similar in style to the other forts we've seen, and honestly red sandstone is starting to blend together for me. Its the mosque that grabbed my attention- the tile work and the carvings were mostly intact and gorgeously colored.

I also made two adorable friends after passing over some oranges and a bottled water. I think the hardest part of travel here by far has been the massive amount of children begging on the streets and outside the monuments. They run in little groups and are barefoot and make the sign for hungry. It's completely heartbreaking, and a total moral bind. The kids are usually sent out by an adult "collector" who acts almost like a pimp according to the guides I've read, so you know rationally that passing over money isn't going to really help them, but doing nothing while a probable orphan tugs on your pants and makes the sign for hungry is about impossible and I feel like a monster. I've read about a couple charities that do outreach and education programs that I'm planning on giving to, and in the meantime I'm passing over bananas or oranges. Not super helpful I'm sure but it usually gets a smile at least.

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