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By Nyassa Stuppard

The day started off really early. We left the hotel around 5 am to catch the train to Agra at 6 am. On the way to the train we encountered homeless children who were asking for both money and water. They ran up next to us, circled us, and tapped us. These were young children that looked about 5 or 6 years old. One of these children was holding yet another child who looked about 2 years old who also begged. Unfortunately, we could not give anything to them. Indian children might give their findings to illegal businesses/bosses. Since, we can’t tell which child is helping supply illegal businesses or providing for their families, we cannot give any child anything. We all tried our best to look forward toward the train station and to not show any emotion, but it was hard. The feeling of sadness and helplessness arose inside of us.

From New Delhi, it took about two hours and thirty minutes to get to the Taj Mahal. No picture of Taj Mahal could match the actual sight of this architecture. This monument of love stands about 240 feet tall. It is made of white Marble and has sprawling gardens around it. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan made it for his wife Mumtaz who died in child birth. This monument is a wonder because of the unique way it was built. Depending on which side someone is standing on, the right or left, one part of the monument seems to be sticking out more compared to its counterpart. In addition, it is built in such a way that if the monument was to ever fall, it would never fall inward unto the Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb but instead slanted away to fall outwards.

We really enjoyed our time exploring the Taj Mahal grounds and the actual tomb. Throughout the day we received many requests to take pictures with people. Our No Barriers Expedition Leader Neha warned that we would receive such attention so when this occurred we weren’t surprised or confused. However we couldn’t comply with all of these requests because we would get behind schedule. Later in the day we went to Agra Fort which was built by another Mughal emperor. The fort was made of this brown-reddish brick and was huge.

It is fair to say that we felt a rollercoaster of feelings emotions today. At the beginning of the day we felt feelings of sadness and helplessness. At the Taj Mahal we felt peace and a little confusion when the first few people approached us to take pictures of us. Finally, we went to the Sheroes Café. There we learned about the survivors of acid attacks. We spent at 45 minutes there listening to their individual stories and then asking them questions. Personally, I regret not taking that opportunity to ask more questions. The time was short and I didn’t use it wisely. Asking questions shows that you are listening as well as interested in what the person has to say.

Overall, this was an amazing second day and I am looking forward to tomorrow.