north india, part iii – agra & delhi.

agra.

a night in

a hotel we’d

been to once before,

just for tea

after a long

day of sightseeing,

but still a memory.

this time

we were actually

staying there.

maddy was a crying mess

when we arrived,

drooling and flailing,

turning the heads

of a giant group

of german tourists.

i recognized a

couple of them

from earlier today,

and realized that they

were part of the

same group of

people who watched

as maddy crawled

across the cold ground

of fatehpur sikri.

and i recognized

her behavior as

the telltale signs

of a teething baby.

couldn’t help but

think things

were going to be

disastrous over the next

few days…

we had a rather

tight schedule,

lots of places to

visit, things to

see, and trying to

do them with a

baby acting the way

madeline was

seemed about as

appealing as puncturing

my eardrums with

a pencil.

but the way that

maddy was screaming,

i figured i’d be

deaf soon

enough anyway.

we got checked in,

and had a nice

dinner during which

madeline was calm,

and for the

first time on

our trip,

she chose rachel’s

lap over mine.

the ladies went

to sleep,

while i caught up

with the family

via video chat,

then wrote until

it was almost time

for us to

start our day.

everyone was up

before sunrise,

and excited for the day.

even madeline,

though she

had no idea

what she was about

to see.

our guide and

our driver

were waiting

for us, and

as i shook the guide’s

hand, i remembered him.

at the same

time he reminded me

that we

had been with him before.

standing there,

just outside the

hotel, i had to tell

him about

liz.

figured that was

better than

him wondering all

day why i was here

with a

liz

clone and a

woman who quite obviously

wasn’t the woman he met

three years earlier.

a moment

i hadn’t anticipated.

we were in

the car for a

few minutes before

arriving at

the drop point.

from that spot

we took a pollution-free

vehicle up to

the gates.

(last time we took a camel)

a view from our camel cart.

the two previous

times i’d been here,

once with

liz,

and once with

my mom,

the lines were shorter

than it was that day.

but we were

there to

see the place

at sunrise.

and so was

everyone else in agra.

line to get into the taj.

rachel’s line,

(yeah, one for women and one for men)

moved faster

than ours,

so she was

able to get

a couple of shots

of us getting frisked.

getting frisked.

finding no

food items

or weapons on

madeline, they

allowed us in.

us.

maddy and me.

having the same

guide ensured that

we started off the

tour in the exact same

way the previous

tours had started

the gateway to the taj mahal.

so instead

of listening

to him,

i walked with maddy,

letting her explore

the place.

reaching.

pigtails courtesy of rachel.

soon it was

time to

go inside.

when i was here with

liz,

i can still

remember the way

she reacted when

she first saw

the place from here:

taj mahal.

we kept walking,

pushing past hoards

of tourists

until we finally

made it inside.

the place is

pretty fucking magnificent

no matter what

time of day

you visit,

but sunrise makes the

building look

almost purple

(so get up early and take in the sunrise).

maddy seemed in

awe of place,

just like her

mom.

maddy's first view.

we kept pushing,

making it to the front

so our guide

could take a

few proper photos

us.

DSC_0625

before turning the

camera over to me.

monument.

reflection.

after the photos

we moved on

to a less

busy part of

the place,

the guide picking up

where he left off

three years earlier.

the two of us outside the taj mahal.

here.

again, rachel listened

intently while

i wandered with madeline.

closer.

the other awesome

thing about our

guide is that

he has us stop

for photos in

the exact same places

each time.

with my best girl.

dancing.

the two of us outside the taj mahal.

he didn’t have the

same motivations that

i did,

instead he just

has a script in

his head that

includes taking the

same touristy shots

no matter who

he’s with.

awesome.

holding.

another shot suggested by the tour guide.

more walking,

more photographs.

reflection.

running.

hanging.

up.

then a seat

rachel.

us.

the two of us outside the taj mahal.

more photos

us.

us.

(my green shirt helps me blend in with the bushes).

then…

time for a

diaper change.

taj mahal diaper change.

success.

we stopped in

another spot,

the spot where

liz

heard the story,

and said the words

that have inspired

me to do what

i do everyday

(i’ll be discussing my visit here with liz in greater depth in my book).

rachel listened

to that same story

with our guide.

while i walked with

madeline.

i just couldn’t

listen to it.

not this time.

tired of walking,

she decided she

was ready

to go in the backpack,

but she drew

a crowd before i

could get her

on my back.

drawing a crowd.

we kept moving.

maddy tried to

do something about

the pain she

felt in her mouth

maddy.

while i remembered.

liz taking a photo of the taj mahal.

we got close

to the mausoleum

itself, and had

to put on

some shoe covers.

rachel has had

to do a lot

of things she

didn’t anticipate during

this trip,

but i may have

crossed a line with her

this time.

this is also part of her job description.

as always,

more photos

us.

liz and out guide outside the taj mahal.

archway.

light.

detail.

(comparing the old photos to the new ones makes me really happy i bought that wide-angle lens).

madeline loves a

lot of things in

this world.

one of her favorites

is screaming

(mostly with joy).

she especially loves

screaming in places

where she can

hear her screams echo.

as it turns out,

mausoleums are great

echo chambers,

but not the kind

of place where

children should be screaming.

so i rushed

us out of

the place

while rachel spent

some time with

our guide.

of course,

the screaming stopped

once we got outside,

and she wanted

out of the backpack.

hanging on.

throwing something.

with my daughter.

pointing.

we caught up with

rachel and our guide,

and let madeline

play for a while.

breaking my glasses.

running.

kisses.

playing.

happy.

running.

so small.

madeline.

upside down.

running.

then a short rest

for me.

tracing.

the taj mahal was her playground on this day.

(i’m getting old).

we kept walking,

rachel.

heading toward the mosque.

before we got

there, madeline stopped

to meet some friends.

with her new friends.

surrounded by her new friends.

we headed in

heading into the mosque.

liz outside the jawab on the east side of the taj mahal.

and did a

little exploring.

us.

ceiling.

me.

i went back outside

for a few more photos

rachel.

small us.

(you can barely see us in the photos, but we’re there).

then i ordered

rachel to remove

my shoe covers.

this is why she gets paid the big bucks.

somewhere along the

way, maddy passed

out in the backpack,

which made

for a great photo op.

awesome.

then we made our

way to the

exit and headed

to the next place,

a place i visited

with my mom,

but not with

liz.

we drove through

the streets

of agra,

arm.

bulls, polio vaccine posters.

clown.

man with rifle.

we arrived, but

before going inside

i had to snap

a few photos.

goat.

music machine.

just inside the

gates of the place,

maddy did what

she’s been

doing during much

of the trip…

she enjoyed

the cold ground.

loving the cold ground.

crawling.

i stayed outside

with madeline.

while rachel walked

through the tomb with

our guide.

rachel.

rachel.

while they were

inside, madeline

got a little

too close to a

monkey and screamed

when it hissed

at her.

it was one of the

first times in

her life that

i’ve seen a genuine

look of terror

on her face.

she jumped into

my arms,

then yelled,

“rayel.”

so yeah,

we went looking

for rachel.

maddy and rachel.posing.

we played for

a bit,

posing.

maddy.

(maddy successfully removed one of the hair ties)

then went inside

to check the

place out.

tomb.

tombs.

then for some

reason maddy pointed

toward the monkeys,

suggesting that we

go see them again.

not one to torture

my child,

i tried to

explain to her that

monkeys are mean,

but she didn’t

care, and insisted

we go see them.

this time

she stayed in

my arms,

and enjoyed watching

them swing from

tree-to-tree

swinging.

and run around.

thrilled about the monkeys.

the guide went out

of his way to

demonstrate his child

rearing skills

maddy and bobby.

and madeline demonstrated

that she likes

rachel more than me.

maddy and rachel.

rachel snapped this

gem of a

photo on the way

out of the place.

people and a chipmunk.

back in the car,

we drove past

a religious procession.

carrying water.

carrying water.

dude.

music machine.

after a little

shopping, we took

a short walk

around the town.

posters.

nothing like using a chicken to sell chicken.

circus.

street food.

garlands.

posters - one is never enough.

fuck your rules, dude.

then it was back

in the car,

and off to our

last site of

the day.

we were here.

outside the agra fort.

liz outside the agra fort.

avoiding the vendors.

it was the same

day that we

visited fatehpur sikri,

and it was

hot as hell.

today, it was

hot, but nothing

like that day.

(tip…visit north india in the winter).

we took a

couple of photos

before heading inside.

rachel.

us.

us.

liz standing inside the amar singh gate at the agra fort.

maddy was excited

to be running on

her own

madeline, rachel.

running.

but soon wanted

to be back

in my arms

found some shade.

inside the courtyard of the jehangiri mahal.

she met some friends

making friends.

then got shy.

shy.

we made our way

into the next room

and some time

playing while

rachel and the guide

continued talking.

madeline.

madeline.

madeline.

happy.

us.

women.

looking at the taj from a distance.

the exploring continued…

trying to climb.

making friends.

taking a rest.

in a corner.

rachel.

playing with a sign.

sitting.

victory.

we stopped in

a spot where

she

once was.

liz inside the khas mahal.

maddy.

this one was

tough for

me for some reason.

but soon

i was laughing

again as

i performed another

diaper change

in front of another

historical place.

diaper change.

we took a few

more photos

before leaving the place.

rachel.

us.

over my shoulder.

eating a banana.

rachel.

us.

liz outside the diwani-i-am (the hall of public audience).

us.

walking.

happiness.

relief.

nothing more to

see that day,

so we made our

way back to the hotel

for dinner.

maddy and rachel

went to bed

early, anticipating our

early morning car ride

the next day.

i stayed up

late again,

writing about

the memories that this

trip brought

back to life.

at 5:00

the next morning

we were back

in the car,

sleeping our

way toward delhi.

i woke in time

to take a

couple of photos.

riding.

riding.

clothes.

6 hours after

leaving agra

we were on

a plane, flying

toward another

country and more memories.

1.5 hours later,

we’d touch down

in kathmandu, nepal,

the place where

i asked

liz

to marry me.

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