After a first week on the ground in Noida and Delhi the team hit the road to learn about Indian culture, and do research at a different speed.
Our preferred method of travel was trains and “took tooks” – India’s motorized scooter vehicles – not only because they were cheap and convenient but also because of the thrills.
Your standard “Took Took” ride can take you head on into oncoming traffic or dodging between cows, cars, pedicabs and caravans.
Meanwhile, from the labyrinthine travel payment process and open air passenger cars, to a continuous tracking shot of the Indian countryside, the trains in India provide a window into the country.
A week in, things begin to settle down. The overwhelming speed gives way and you begin to notice the finer details.
We had plenty to take in on trip to Agra and Jaipur over the weekend, including catching up with not one but two India Lab teams at the Taj Mahal.
The visits took us into the country’s prehistory, when greater India was ruled by the Mughal Empire, a cast of Mongol and Turkic rulers with Persian roots. In these Mughal landmarks, one sees a hybridization of Middle Eastern and Asian culture that lives on in present day India.
After a lunch filled with my favorite Kebabs and Tandoori, we visited the Agra Fort – the Capital of the Mughal Empire – and parted ways. It was this mix – in the food, architecture, literature, and culture – that made Agra and Jaipur so compelling.
I am told later that my family lineage, which has middle-eastern roots, also traces back to parts of Mumbai.
On the final blog post, I look back at my time in India, briefly visiting Mumbai.