Ok! We are at the Taj Mahal & when we got to the Taj entrance the government guards turned us & an older woman, also in a chair, with her family away b\c we were in wheelchairs. Well, this act of aggression could not stand, so we asked who we needed to talk to or what we had to do to make this happen b/c we definitely did NOT spend 20 hours in the air to hear “no”. He informed us we had to seek the approval of the Archaeological Survey of India to gain entrance. Game on, though I will admit, I personally had about 20% doubt in my mind that we would make it inside, which is usually not there when I hear “no”. However my collegue, Hazel, was 100% not having it.
Needless to say, we went to the Archaeological Survey of India, pled our case, eventually spoke to the correct bureaucrat who said if Hazel signed a paper saying if either of us got hurt, we wouldn’t sue them, we could enter. Paper signed & we got inside! The Bureaucrat even escorted us back to the entrance and told the guards to stand down, we are legit.That was CRAZY awesome!
We had to wear the Yohji Yamamoto inspired shoe covers, which are depicted above, so I thought for sure the reason we were denied entrance was the “dirt” on the wheelchair. Boy, was I surprised when it came down to such a sterile, liability based, bureaucratic issue. Bureaucracy is very Indian & when you throw me, the fear factor, in, that shit goes nuts.
I do believe that mine was the first wheelchair in the Taj Mahal! The Archaeological Survey had never had this request before. If you don’t play, you can’t win. Fuck yeah, friends make magic! Well, not just magic. It takes an awesome friend to carry your wheelchair up 20 really high steps while surrounded by approximately 2000 honey mooners and tourists in line, in 75 degree heat with, maybe 45% humidity.
Incidentally, she also had a cranky hip at the beginning of this trip, but at the end, her hip hurt less. Travel is healing. Especially when you’re really tuning up those supporting muscles on India bureaucrat time. The gentleman from the Archaeological Survey said we could go in for 45 minutes, we said “OK”. You should have seen us on the train! We were the hottest messes in India & that is saying a lot for one of the most populated countries in the world.
I will mention at this point that the Taj Mahal is NOT wheelchair accessible at all. My lacking/low walking/stumbling ability is not wasted on me. Every doorway had a 5 -7 inch curb in front of it due to the monsoon situation. This is information provided to me by Hazel b/c I didn’t know why they were there. In fact, she is a wealth of knowledge about various ancient cities & I am definitely smarter for her voluminous knowledge. That means there’s a lot of lifting, hopping, stepping, pushing & doing it again and again involved here. And the guards hustle everyone right through the mausoleum. That was def when they treated me EXACTLY like everyone else. I’m serious. No hanging out and staring at the wall for half an hour, so this turns out to be the most awesome form of 45 minute “bootcamp”-style training, like I see on Bravo or some crazy dieting show.
BTW, the pics above are not inside the Taj Mahal. You aren’t allowed to take pictures inside. There are other buildings and a mosque you can go crazy on all day long with pictures, just not inside the Taj Mahal.
Oh yeah, and that is a huge swarm of bees on the Taj Mahal. There are two that we saw. They don’t have a hive. It’s just a huge moving, but stationery, swarm. Not every country has killed everything it comes in contact with. More about the many cool animals of India soon.