One of the wonderful things about travel with OAT, is the many off itinerary things we do. After leaving Agra Fort, we have an all day travel to another UNESCO site. But, first, we visit Agra Marble Company. The boss who is seated explains the process to us.
The workers are from Iran, he tells us. These jobs are handed down from father to son, or brother to brother. It is a dying art, he explains. People don’t want to do this hard work anymore.
Cutting a gouge in the marble by scraping it with a sharp tool over and over again. Then the glass or pearl inlay is set in and cemented with a mixture of lime, water and and finely ground marble.
The glass is cut.
It’s outlined and assembled on the table top. Then the artist makes the cuts.
Each worker has a different skill.
The men would glance up at him furtively then at us, as though they were frightened of their boss. It was very noticeable. The boss even commented on it, saying something on the order of …they look at me as though I was going to beat them or something. I suspect he wasn’t a kind boss.
Cutters permanently damage their fingers from the work. The cutter was asked to show us his little finger which gets stiff and unmovable after years of cutting. His index finger is scarred by a permanent dent in it where the blade is held and pushed into the hard surface.
The end product is beautiful, as you can imagine. This is the small two foot table I bought.
It was shipped to me in this cloth covered box. The box had reams of tape and those hard plastic fasteners. Then rope that my housemate and I had to remove. It took the two of us 45 minutes to get it out of the box. The stand was boxed the same way. Once the cardboard boxes were removed, the pieces were enclosed in a heavy, coated blue box. Whew! What a job.
Because it was election day, the hotel personnel removed all wine and beer from our in room refrigerators. Drinking is against the law on election day. Ranvir provided a small get-together in his room with snacks and some rum with cola.
Theo drank sprite or lemonade.
Bands, bill boards, groups of people with signs-all part of electioneering going on in the streets. I got one blurry picture of a band.
Pictures from a fast moving bus or train, don’t turn out well.
And one good one at a temporary stop. They gave an impromptu little concert.
Smoking is banned in India. It is really nice not to deal with second hand smoke and what a benefit for people to spend their money on food instead of addictive nicotine. I saw two people smoking, both times in small towns. The scofflaws.
Other pictures I missed, students taking a test in a large field so no one can copy from one another. Dead cows on the railroad tracks. I also did a search today for population figures. As I’ve blogged I began to question Mamju Sharmi’s statement that India is 80% Muslim and 11% Hindu. I re-read my notes and her statements. I think it was just a slip on her part. It is just the opposite. About 80% Hindu and 11% Muslim. Tomorrow a two hour train ride and a five hour drive to Khajuraho.