India: "The Sole Country"



February 4, 2007

Dear Family and Friends,

In 1897, Mark Twain wrote:

"The sole country under the sun that is Endowed with imperishable interest for alien prince And alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, Wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, The one land all men desire to see, and having Seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of The rest of the globe combined."

I will journey to this "sole country under the sun" whose long Northern border collides with the Eurasian land mass to drive up the earth's crust to produce thirty of the world's highest peaks. I desire a glimpse of the peninsula that pierces the Southern waters to bathe in a Bay and an Ocean and a Sea. And in the West, a Sea of sand.

New Delhi Part I: "What is, is."

February 11, 2007

Dear Family and Friends,


Just recently my friend Siri sent me this note:

India has been interesting. I have to be honest that I don't much like it so far, but I'm trying to wait until the end of my trip to make any judgments. Varanasi is way better than Delhi which I hated and was a nightmare! Hopefully it will just get better.

Yes. I agree. It is easy to "hate" New Delhi. Just as any other frenetic city of 14 million souls, it can be a "nightmare." (Yes,14 million. That's all of New York City and all of the City's suburbs combined. Plus two million more.)

New Delhi Part 2: "Happy Where I Am"

New Delhi


February 12, 2007


Each morning my driver Suresh and I agree on an itinerary.

Suresh negotiates his way through the traffic to a stop at Lakshmi Naravan, an unusual Hindu temple . . . unusual for its tones of yellow and red- brown. Another stop at Rajghat, a beautiful park with a simple square platform of black marble that marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated following his assassination in 1948. A host of schoolchildren smile and wave to me.

Delhi to Agra: "Vrindavan, Akbar"

The Golden Triangle - First Leg


Uttar Pradesh


February 13, 2007


Dear Geometric-philes,

The most popular itinerary for first time visitors to India is The Golden Triangle: Delhi south to Agra, Agra west to Jaipur, and Jaipur northeast to Delhi. On a map of the Indian Subcontinent, this area is barely more than a thumb print or two. Nevertheless, the sights are splendid all along the route.

Agra to Fatehpur Sikri: "Rush Hour Traffic"



Uttar Pradesh


February 16, 2007

Dear Family and Friends,

Agra is not just The Taj. The Taj, as magnificent as it is, is not Agra.

Agra is also Agra -- and there's more to see.

"The Agra Fort was built by Emperor Akbar between 1565 and 1573. (Remember Akbar's Tomb?) Its imposing red sandstone ramparts form a crescent along the river bank encompassing an enormous complex of courtly buildings ranging in style from the early eclecticism of Akbar to the sublime elegance of Shah Jahan."