Taj Mahal Trip: May 3-8, 2012

Check out more photos here.

For a few years we had been fantasizing about taking the workers to the Taj Mahal, but more than anything, it was just a far, distant dream… But this year, with Meenakshi joining our team and with her spirit and energy, we turned this dream into reality!

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– by Meenakshi

Ruba: 29 years old, mother of 3 boys ages 14, 12 and 10, lives in a small 2-bedroom house with her mother-in-law and father-in-law in Pondy where she has lived since her marriage.

She had never traveled before, it was the first experience of trains for her, also as a girl she always lived a very protective life. she studied till grade 8 and was married at the age of 15. a year after her marriage she was a mother so she never really got the opportunity to go anywhere with her husband either.. She always wondered about taj mahal as a child and never really thought it could happen for her. So when this trip got formulated she was very excited of what lays ahead. This was the first time she spent 5 nights away from her family. It was the first time Ruba sat on a Camel cart, she was scared when a monkey came and snatched the water bottle away from her. First time she heard and tried to communicate with people who did not speak her native tongue Tamil and tried to speak in hindi instead. She learned new words. Like Kela (banana) and thanda pani (cold water) etc.

She says “I like Taj Mahal more and more, Hotel, driver, food everything was very very very good. The building (structure) experience was very calm, the river behind taj mahal very good, 3 separate entrances for 3 different queens.” She remembers the inside of Taj mahal and the Romantic aspect where a king and queen lying together and so together even after death.

Thanks to L’aura a childhood dream came true for Ruba so she says many thanks to L’aura for making this happen. And Thank you Meenakshi, Thank you Jason, thank you shammi, Thank you Sean and Sasha and everybody and this she says is very important “Everyone who donated money to make this trip happen a very big thank you.”

Ishama: 37 year old mother of 2 ages 13 and 19 lives in the village of Kotakarai was also married at the age of 15. She lives by herself mostly with 2 kids while her husband is away in andhra to work. Ishama had been on the trains before but was still very excited to come with us on this trip she had to arrange for her daughter to go and live with her grandmother.. Very happy that she went to see Taj Mahal for Ishama it was the journey which was more beautiful since the time spent by her co-workers and sasha went by so quickly. It was very pleasurable. She remembers the lady with luggage and my (meenakshi’s) fight with her. And Ruba who is here to translate for her says she also enjoyed seeing the aggressive side of me to have them entered the temple. Ishama is very happy that the care L’aura and I provided with regards to their food, drinks and other comforts. She liked the place we stayed in as well as the driver who drove us it was a very nice trip. And she thanks all who made it happen for her.

Savandary: 42 year old mother of 2 was married at the ago of 18, widowed at the age of 32 also had never traveled in train before. She works two jobs to support her family – here at Joy in the mornings and at visitor center in the evenings.. so people in her village and at her other job started calling her delhi amma since she was so close to delhi and have been where no one has gone before from the village.She had to leave her younger daughter to her older married sister’s home where also she got teased by son-in-law and daughters they wanted to accompany her to this trip she says. For savandary the best part was eating and sleeping a luxury she does not get to have. She also was laughing at L’aura’s comments on them drinking too much water and wanting to use the bathroom all the time.. She is curious to know where the next destination might be.. 🙂 Like others she also loved the Taj Mahal. And wanted to thank all who donated money to make this trip happen.

Murugan: 39 year old father of 2 girls 9 and 6 lives in the village of kotakarai.. murugan had to come with us without informing his family with the fear of a huge fight and argument. But like others he also had the great desire to go and see the Taj mahal so he came without the knowledge of his family. This was his first trip on the train as well and he is so happy he came along. He had taken small trips before but only to adjacent villages and chennai and all the trips happened only by bus. So he was really excited. He says never happened before with Janet (L’aura’s mom) and he has worked here so long. This trip happened because of L’aura he says and is very happy about it. journey on the train was very good because everyone was there together, laughing sharing food sleeping it was nice. There was a point where I sent him down to get some water and he was scared to be left behind but he never mentioned that until now.. and I had to drag it out of him.. what a silly boy.. he is very glad this happened. And thanks L’aura and everyone else for making this happened.

Yerumalai: 49 year old the most jolly fellow of the bunch a father of 3 loves life and enjoys it to the fullest.. we call him sawadi a nick name given to him after his village evyan chawadi.. Sawadi had been on the trains before when he was 16 and then this was his second experience on the trains.. he loves trains he says trains are fun its so convenient you can lie on the train and toilet is also not an issue so convenient. He has never been to Delhi before very happy that with L’aura and Meenakshi he got the opportunity to go to Taj Mahal.

He is upset that he wanted to go to Delhi as well the capital of India and he didn’t get to see it. His favourite moment was to see the inside of Taj Mahal where the wife is lying and the amount of love that flows there. Everything was good as per Sawadi with the exception of the line up to charge phones in the train where he also had a fight..

There was a point where in Agra women did not wanted to go to drink tea by themselves so Sawadi took the lead and took them all to a tea stall close by. Also it was a lot of fun watching him do the bargaining with the locals for toys and other goodies. Sawadi enjoyed this trip very much however he has tasted the blood and now he wants to travel more.. especially to Delhi..