For years people had been talking about visiting the Taj Mahal in New Delhi but to be honest I was a bit skeptical due to the stories of racism against black people despite the fact that Indians are as dark as us in skin complexion. So I had put it off and decided I would only go in a group and not alone as I usually travel because I didn’t want to put myself through unnecessary drama. However Srini a friend and my next door neighbor from Ethiopia had moved back to India and so I took this opportunity to visit him in Bangalore, which is the tech industry capital (interesting fact.
Because I was planning to be in India, I decided a visit to Taj Mahal would be worth a quick overnight stop. A layover visit would be difficult because the drive from New Delhi to Agra would be 4 hours drive. The fun started at the immigration desk when my fingerprints on my right hand would not register…yikes😳 I had heard some horror stories but luckily this was not one of them as the officer tried several times and then just let me go since he had the fingerprints of my left hand. I arrived at the hotel right before 5 pm and was told the Taj Mahal was closed so no sunset visit 🙁. Although Srini had mentioned it was chilly I was not ready especially after spending time in tropical weather in Maldives and Sri Lanka. Agra was disappointing, in addition to the cold, it reminded me of Cairo, a bit dirty and full of stray dogs ugh😩. Anyway I ate dinner, talked to my sister on the phone and went to bed early so I could get up early the next morning to go to the Taj Mahal. I couldn’t believe that it was even colder in the morning but I was determined to see this world wonder. It was cold I didn’t want to walk so I was ripped off by a tuk tuk driver who took me the long way to make a buck, I was pissed when I realized but oh well. When I arrived at the Taj Mahal I paid for a guide who could take my pictures and make the visit go faster and it was money well spent🤗. Taj Mahal building was smaller than I expected, although the grounds were big and included a mosque; no pictures allowed inside and even now I am not sure if it was worth the time, money and drive but I checked it off my bucket list😊. I imagine the visit is worth it for people who can do a day trip because Agra is not a city where I would stay for more than one day. I left for New Delhi immediately after breakfast and got to the airport really early because there was no traffic on the road due to it being New Year’s Eve. But the New Delhi airport was nice so I found a restaurant to eat, visited the duty free shops and sat down and relaxed.
My visit to Bangalore on the other hand was wonderful, the weather was great and my friends took great care of me and made sure I learned a lot about the history of India. We had a nice low key New Year’s Eve meal, took the train downtown and ate good food at a local restaurant, shopped, ventured out to a temple where we took some lovely pictures, drove out to a waterfall that was unfortunately mostly dried up, visited a local workshop that helped prepare young people to have their own businesses making statutes and other items through woodwork, metal and stone and got to see a beautiful dance rehearsal performance at a dance school where young ladies go to train. It was a short visit but it was filled with great company, delicious food, new experiences, conversations about tough topics and exposure to a new culture. As expected there were lots of stares by people when I ventured out, most of the people in Bangalore had probably never seen a black person in real life and I even got a request by a family at the temple for a picture. Of course the red locs and the headwrap is also different and I wondered afterwards what their conversation would be with their friends when they show them that picture LOL🤣. I only wished my stay was longer so I could see more of the city and surrounding areas.
What’s interesting to me about India, is the blatant racism towards black people mostly Africans because a lot of Indians have the same hue or darker skin color as black people. I have known Indians my entire life, growing up in Barbados, living in the US, when I lived in Jamaica and Thailand and I personally have not experienced any racism. But it is hard to deny the incidents of racism highlighted by the reports in the news and my friends acknowledged that this is true. It goes to show that you can be brainwashed by lack of exposure to other people and use what you don’t know or have been told about them to create stereotypical opinions about others and to believe that you are better than them especially when you live in a homogenous country like India. It’s sad and while there’s not much I can do about it I hope that the more black people travel to these homogenous places and have positive interactions with locals, that little by little we can have an impact by changing the perception of black people. It’s a long shot I know but it’s a start towards making a change 🤔🤷🏾♀️