Sweet Change

I had no idea that India’s economy was based on hard candy. In a country short of coins, caramels, fruit drops and toffees are an accepted currency and are light-heartedly handed out to perplexed tourists. “But what about my change?” I say the first time and push back the two pieces of grape candy worth 1 Rupee each. Instead I get a chocolate wafer that’s worth 2 Rupees.

Candy for Change

After a couple of months here, I’ve accepted the constant shortage of change and the threat of tooth decay. You know the guys in our countries jingling their loose change in their pocket? Not happening in India. Believe me, these are not isolated cases. Continue…

Celestial Creations

Instrument Representing Pisces

Two months into our India trip, and I’m starting to suffer from a slight onset of architecture overload. While Tony is going strong, I feel overwhelmed and increasingly hungry for something other than amazing palaces, mausoleums, forts, and cenotaphs.

Jantar Mantar breaks the “monotony” of touring architecture-rich heritage sites. Though its architecture also plays a vital role, it serves a very different purpose. What looks like a playground for the giant and big-boned among us turns out to be Continue…

Taxes in the Pink City

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

We’ve been exploring Jaipur, the celebrated “Pink City,” and our first stop in Rajasthan. After checking out the city’s temples, palaces, and markets as well as the general atmosphere, I have to say I found the reality of this city, one of the most visited in India, a bit disappointing.

Yes, the Hawa Mahal (above) photographs well and there’s plenty to see and do here in Jaipur, it’s just that what is often sold as a Rajasthani fantasy is really more of a Continue…

It Ain’t All Ghandi

Among experienced travelers, Indians have one of the worst reputations on the planet, notorious for driving visitors to their country to near insanity. This reputation is well deserved.

We clearly knew what we were in for when we came here, but I have to say the aggressiveness of the non-stop hassling has still managed to surprise us.

Don’t get me wrong – clearly, not all Indians are monsters. But from a traveler’s perspective, it often feels that way. “Uncivilized beasts,” “inhuman,” “the most god-awful people known to mankind” are all frustrated descriptions that I have heard from travelers – and those are the nice ones that I can put on the blog.

While the travelers’ comments above might seem unfair and offensive, I can honestly say that after visiting more than 80 countries, I have never experienced such annoying behavior, which at times might be described as Continue…

The Baby Taj

Thomas Relaxing at Itimad-ud-Daulah

Itimad-ud-Daulah’s nickname the Baby Taj may suggest that this white marble tomb is inferior to the Taj Mahal but, on the contrary, it’s quite a beauty in its own right. The Baby Taj is actually a precursor of the Taj Mahal and was completed in 1628, three years before construction began on its bigger brother. Architecturally, this period was a turning point in the Mughal empire. This new, innovative style with Continue…

Appreciating Agra

Inside Agra Fort

There’s a general consensus: people love the Taj Mahal, but absolutely despise Agra, the home city of the white marble mausoleum. “It’s a pit”, “what a filthy rat hole”, “big time hassle”, “food poisoning guaranteed.” Everyone we meet has a pretty strong opinion about this place. So, when we arrived all defensive, we expected the worst and were ready Continue…

Where’s the Beef?

Tony Eating a Chicken Maharaja Mac Meal

You’ve got to be pretty gutsy to open up a McDonald’s in India, the land of the holy cow! It turns out that foreigners who turn up hoping to sink their teeth into some tender ground cow flesh are going to be asking themselves, “Where’s the beef?” No hamburgers in Indian McDonald’s – instead Continue…

Taj Mahal

Tony and Thomas at Taj Mahal

Is it strange that the symbol of a predominately Hindu country would be a building built by Muslims? Or perhaps, seen from another perspective, that the world’s most celebrated Muslim building is in a land that is 85 % Hindu? Or, perhaps, that India’s most celebrated icon was designed by a Persian?

Descriptions of the Taj Mahal’s construction claim that expert artists were brought in from Central Asia, Persia, even as far as Europe to carve the ornate marble screens, do the incredibly detailed inlay work, and contribute their expertise to what is indisputably one of the world’s most incredible pieces of architecture. It really is a world monument – and it is spectacular!

Unfortunately, India knows it. Continue…

Back in Berlin

Back to Berlin

That’s it – we’re done with India! We had all intentions of staying here for 6 months but last week was a real turning point – you can’t imagine what we’ve been through. We were literally forced to return to Germany. Continue…