Thursday, March 14, 2013

NEPTUNE DAY


We have crossed the equator.  The sea was like glass yesterday, and I saw lots of flying fish.

The crew talent show was lots of fun.  The "talent" was questionable, but everyone was very enthusiastic, so a good time was had by all.  They do it as a fundraiser for their recreation fund.

The hotel manager gave us a talk on food services on the ship.  We just had a Soul Food night, and he was surprised that 800 people consumed 600 pounds of fried chicken.  The ship sells as many candy bars as boxes of cereal consumed.

When a ship crosses the equator, there is a ceremony to initiate the "shellbacks," or first timers.  I have crossed the equator many times, but never by sea, so I am a shellback.  I watched part of the ceremony, but declined getting the green paint poured over my head, dunked in the pool, then having my head shaved.  Many of the guys participated.  The girls were happy to do the first two, but balked at the head shaving.  Luckily none of it was mandatory.

The ship's captain painted himself green and was our King Neptune.  Various members of the staff filled other roles.  The crew put on white Viking type costumes and banged pots as they marched along the hallways waking everyone up at 7 a.m.  It was a fun morning.

Later that day the captain and some of his officers participated in a "Q&A" session.  We found that the ship needs 3.5 million dollars worth of fuel for the 110 day voyage.  The food budget is 2.5 million dollars.  Some of the kids were concerned about piracy.   The Somali pirates have been going further afield to avoid navy patrols off the Horn of Africa.  We were told we passed the area of concern about an hour and a half previously.  Our ship is not very vulnerable because it is one of the three fastest ships afloat, so pirates would be unable to catch us.  We did have extra people on night watch when we were in the vulnerable area.

Two more days to Mauritius.

Monday, March 11, 2013

TAJ MAHAL


After breakfast we drove two hours to the Taj Mahal in Agra.  I have seen it twice before, but that didn't stop my heart rate increasing and my breath catching as I approached through the gate.  It is truly stupendous.  Last time I was here there were people all over but they seem to be limiting attendance now so you can actually enjoy the surrounding gardens and get a sense of peace, if not privacy.  This is actually a tomb built by Emperor Shahjehan between 1631 and 1653 for his wife, who died in childbirth.  It is built of marble and originally was studded with precious stones, but you don't see those now.


The Taj Mahal

Red Fort


Across the way is the Red Fort, also built by Emperor Shahjehan, between 1638 and 1648.  Sadly, he was later imprisoned there by his son until his death, and he could see the Taj Mahal from his room.














We visited a marble factory in Agra.  The workers are supposedly descendants of the original builders of the Taj Mahal.

Inlaid marble for sal

After a four hour drive, we arrived at the Oberoi Hotel in Delhi.  We could have anything we wanted from the dinner menu, so I opted for filet mignon and my friend got rack of lamb.  This is a five star hotel, but, again, we got there late and leave at 5 a.m. for the airport, so can't appreciate it much.

We flew directly to Kochin and left India that evening, on our way to Mauritius.