On 18 December 2011, I paid a visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra. I was with my cousins and we had spent a pleasant 5 hours driving from Delhi to Agra. The first shock was the snaking security line. Good on them as far as the crowd control goes but why could they not have more ticket counters? Who were they protecting against? What were they protecting?
I was wearing the vOICe so I had my video glasses and netbook. I eventually reached the security check barrier. This was like a doorway. I was frisked and then asked to take off my backpack.
I could not do this since I was all wired up. I was lead to a table where an inspector of police heard my story. I explained the vOICe as an artificial eye.
We were then directed to an officer of the Archeological Survey of India. I had to wait near the security desk while my cousin went to meet with the official.
No argument worked. I had to remove the vOICe and leave it in the tender care of the security staff. The reasoning of the ASI officer was that there was an order by the Supreme Court forbidding laptops. There was no countering that but I am puzzled that the learned judges would allow mobile phones and not laptops? A mobile phone is a computer and can do much more than a laptop.
I did get some photographs with the camera and did use the mobile phone version of the vOICe for a bit but as of this writing, there is nothing that can give me the eye level perspective and the broad field of view like the video glasses with the fish-eye lens.
The high point of my visit came in the souvenir shop outside the Taj Mahal. The staff was welcoming and were happy to show me their tools and products. There is much use of colors so keep a color detector handy or use the color spectrum feature of the vOICe. The staff is very good about adjusting the lighting conditions in the shop to best show off things like stones that are supposed to glow at the time of the full moon. I was able to detect the bright point of light which were the glowing stones under a flashlight.
Tips for any visitors specially those wearing electronic aides.
1. Leave the aide at home or in the vehicle unless it resembles a mobile phone.
2. Do not visit on the weekend since it is very crowded.
3. Keep at least 3 hours for the entire exercise.
4. Hire a guide. Ours was invaluable since besides telling us interesting stories, he was able to minimize the time we spent in the visitor’s line. He knew the shortest routes to get from one point to another. Mind you, you do not have much scope for getting lost since given the crowd, you are almost boxed in.
5. Eat before entering the Taj Mahal since food is not permitted inside the complex.