After our day at the Taj being inspired by love, beauty, vision, and craftsmanship, we couldn’t leave the area without a visit to Fatehpur Sikri. It is an Unesco Historic Site. It was built by Emperor Akbar in 1571 in honor of a Sufi saint , Salim Chishti, and the Mughal capital for 14 years. It is a fine example of a Mughul walled city defined with public and private spaces including a Mosque. The architecture is a blend of Muslim and Hindu styles and reflects Akbar’s secular governing style. He had a Hindu wife and a Muslim wife to reflect his vision of ruling all the people equally. The city was finally abandoned and it is thought it might have been because of lack of water.
This along with the Amber Fort were crawling with beggars and vendors. I had been looking them in the eye when I was approached and saying ‘”no thank you.” I was trying to acknowledge their humanity. This it turns out just encourages them, pulling , thrusting things in my face and calls of Auntie, Auntie buy from me! One of our students who was particularly sensitive to the poor described it as “frantic desperation!” A perfect description that only made me feel worse. Royd and Jesse, two big guys in our group, began walking next to me to maneuver me through the crowds. We were followed back to the bus and some even tried to enter the bus with me.
Here is an example of this situation but in Delhi: We had met a 12 year old at the Friday Mosque on the first trip who didn’t even know how to write his name because his family “needed” him to work! Any teacher’s heart would be touched by this story.
I struggled with this problem of response to beggars on both trips. I will share another time. But if you are in one of the high tourist areas don’t look the sellers in the eye, speak to them or touch any of the merchandise as this is a cue that you are going to buy it. There are hotels where you can donate money to the poor. For people who are in a third world or developing country for the first time, the slums and poverty are overwhelming. This is their life !