Fatehpur Sikri & the Collect Phone Call

Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India – 6 a.m. this morning, there was a knock at the door, it was Emmy, the girl from Santa Cruz, we have met the evening before, waking me up to see the Taj at sunrise. I got up, Rich could not make it and walked over to the Taj gait at 6.30 a.m. where I found Emmy and her buddy Tina from Santa Barbara waiting to go inside. We went in and saw the Taj surrounded in mist, more mysterious looking then ever. The best part about our early arrival is that we have beaten the tour buses there, so we could take pictures of ourselves in front of this beautiful building with no one around.

Back to the hotel to get food and Rich, before the four of us headed to the bus station to go to Fatehpur Sikri, the abandoned city, not too far from Agra. An hour later, we arrived in this little town and made the hike up the hill to the city and listed a guide to take us around and he took us through the massive city gait, the largest one in the world, into the main courtyard. Not much to the city, everyone left there because there is not any water anywhere near here. There was a cemetery and a beautifully carved white tomb, I forget who is buried there, but not much more. The tomb definitely had the most intricate lattice work I have seen anywhere in India.

We wandered around the city and the smaller one behind it before tiring of it and heading down to the town to have a look around. We walked about 200 yards down the main market street, but there were so many flies flying everywhere. It made a rather unpleasant experience. I was just waiting for one to fly up my nose or down my throat. 10 minutes later, we made a bee line for the bus station ready to endure the one-and –a half hour ride back to Agra on the local bus.

Emmy and Tina were leaving that evening and as Emmy was flying back to San Francisco in 10 days, she came down to our room and offered to take a bag of our stuff back to California for us. It was like a God send, someone willing to take all the crap we had brought back home for us plus we knew it would get there. Rich took his camel leather bag and the two of us opened our packs and proceeded to fill the thing perfect, off load all our stuff.

A short while later, Rich went downstairs to dial AT&T direct and make a collect call to the states, when he was done, the meter read Rs. 1 and the Indians thought he made a direct dial call, so they told him the bill was Rs. 1,700. They could not for the life of them understands the concept of a collect call and that they would not be charged for the call. Rich blew his top and when I came down, he was about ready to kill the Indians. I took over and started being the diplomat, but two hours later, we had resolved nothing. Rich had long gone to bed except we have managed to get across the concept of collect calls. I ended the negotiations, round I, by telling the Indians that Rich and I would get a letter from the head telecom office in Agra stating the hotel would not be charged.

When I retired upstairs, Rich and I talked for a while and we figured out that the Indians absolutely do not have the same logical thinking process that every other country has. Western minds including Nepalese think of problem through from A to B. The Indian mind goes to A to B, but they come from a completely different direction, say C and no western mind can ever be enlightened enough to ever come close to understanding C. They have such a different logical thinking process and they do eventually reach B via C. It just takes them a lot longer. Their cognitive setup is not the same and even as I write this in Nepal, I am convinced it is an isolated problem in the Indian societies thinking. The Nepalese are all western-minded and I cannot understand how some of their logic cannot cross over the border.

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