Posts Tagged With: tribute


We take an early train to Bharatpur. Distances across India are vast. From Bharatpur, another long bumpy ride by bus to our hotel. Tourists travel the distance to see Fort Agra and the Taj Mahal. Transportation is quite reasonable on these trains, but Ranvir tells us we are on an expensive train for upper middle class people.

It has a toilet and food service. That is, snacks and drinks to enjoy in your seat.


Sleeper cars cover longer distances with a dining room and other amenities. Economy cars, the general population uses, are bare bones. Mainly because patrons steal the light bulbs, cut off the padded seating, remove any piece of wood or metal they can pry loose, no curtains or shades remain, fixtures of any kind disappear. Even the floors have holes in them where boards have been removed.  While we laugh, Ranvir reminds us that poor people think it is their right to take from the government. He adds that they are beginning to crack down on such things and provide better cars for them. He describes families with a bunch of kids, sacks of food and maybe a live chicken.

A grand hotel with over 2,000 rooms is our reward after a long day of travel. It’s nice to have luxury hotels to stay in, but this one was my least favorite.

Shiny, clean and beautiful, but you walk miles to your room. The restaurants and lobby are sandwiched between the upper and lower residential floors. I have no sense of direction and have to memorize each left or right turn in an ordinary hotel. This one is a huge challenge.

The elevators are inconveniently located and using the marble steps the intuitive way to get to your destination. As new groups come in, hotel staffers position themselves in the hallways to give directions. Apparently, I am not the only one who has problems finding my way around.

But I got my art fix.

I knew I had to pass about 30 paintings and pieces of art before I turned left.

When I saw this painting it was my set of stairs.

And pass the drum, before I found our room.

When I passed the phone, I knew where to turn downstairs to the dining room.

The grounds around the building are just as vast as the hotel itself. Beautiful and green and spacious. I saw only workmen, never anyone from the hotel enjoying it. If I had a week to stay, I wouldn’t need the cues.  I changed money at this hotel and they wouldn’t take small bills like tens or fives. Twenties or a fifty, only. Their limit, $5o a day. Then they gave me mostly small denomination rupees and apologized.  I was a bit discombobulated here as I complain a bit tongue in cheek. And, as always the food is excellent.

We visited Fort Agra before the Taj Mahal, but I’m posting my pictures of the Taj Mahal taken by a professional photographer.

The Taj Mahal is now one of the seven wonders of the world since so many of the ancient wonders of the world are gone, such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis and the Statue of Zeus  all destroyed. If you click on the links, it will take you to Wikipedia where you can see and learn about these magnificent pieces.  The only ancient wonder of the world to survive is the Pyramid of Giza.

Look at the picture carefully and you can see just how huge this beautiful building is. The people are like little midgets. The Taj was abandoned and deteriorated for many years. Vandals chipped marble and removed tiles from areas. Some places inside have not, and never will be restored. The outside is being fully restored.

It was mobbed when we visited. Wall to wall people, crowding to get inside with lines waiting a turn to get in. It was a crush. The towers were engineered with a slight cant toward the outside of the domed center in case they were to fall and crash, they would not damage the main building. When you stand in front of one tower, it is so perfectly aligned, you cannot see the exact same tower behind it. Twenty thousand workers toiled 22 years to build it. The verses of Holy Koran are inscribed on it.

This  group is single women on the trip. Behind, Diane and myself. Front, Sandy, Ellen, Kathy and Trish. Notice the tiny figures on the Taj veranda. You get a better idea how huge this building is. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a tribute to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal in 1648 A.D. Their remains are encased in flowery decorated Centotaphs hidden from our view by a mesh screen. We could  peek into the darkened room, but could see nothing with clarity. Better to buy the post card.

Our group from left to right: Standing, Hugo, Adam, Kris, Chuck, Pam, Otto, Paul Theo, Carol, Hazel. Seated: Diane, Sandy, Ellen, Kathy, and Me. On the outside of the building, are marble panels, tiles and inlay marble of great craftsmanship. The towers, too, have intricate patterns. And high above, the  inscriptions. A wonder of the world. How did their architects learn to build so well?

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I’ve always loved Andy Rooney’s wry comments on the irritating things of everyday life.  Made me think we had something in common. I admired his unflinching honesty and that he stood behind his convictions whether others thought he was right or wrong.  A number of times he apologized if he felt he had  made a mistake. Not often. I gave up watching 60 Minutes some years back when they changed their time slot. And, I gave up watching television almost completely since I’ve been on the road with Jim. Don’t miss it, but I  had to watch 60 Minutes’ tribute to their uncompromising Irishman.  It was an interview of a previously aired program. I was glad I watched it.  I was surprised at how much about Rooney I didn’t know; his years with Godfrey, Reasoner, Cronkite. His original bits with 60 Minutes as a shadow character. His early career and awards.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer aired a video of Rooney’s final goodbye on 60 Minutes.  I had never seen it. I was glad I watched it, too. His final statement that goes something like this:  If you see me out to dinner, just let me eat my dinner.  Typical crusty Rooney. I heard him say that several times over the years. He didn’t like people to bother him during his private time. He never let fame go to his head.  He had substance, a great sense of humor, often serious, funny, sometimes angry, or silly; telling it like it was. Here is a link to  his last program if you missed it to:

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I received the sad news of the passing of an old friend, Jack Wallace  Baugh, on New Years Day.
Leaders develop among men of all stripes. They have keen insight, energy and intellect to project into the future. They are idea people, who see things from all angles then take action. That was Jack.
He was admired and respected by those who knew him. He did much to promote better job conditions for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. His ideas were copied by other departments across the State of California and the Highway Patrol. And all of us who followed benefited from his leadership. And, they benefited but didn’t know him.

I’m lost to think of what a  fitting tribute for Jack might be?  Nothing seems adequate. To honor and value his friendship. To honor and support his wife and children. To remember. To be grateful that he came into our lives, and was there when we needed his leadership.

Jack Wallace Baugh, 1936 – 2011.
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I’ve been away for a couple days, working at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Archive. Some years back, we rescued an old Guard Tower that was slated to be demolished. My son Doug, a carpenter, working in the Bay Area, rebuilt that guard tower with his own and a friend’s volunteer labor. In fact, he is always doing something for somebody else.
Sunday night, Doug came whooshing into the driveway about 7:00 p.m., set up shop tools on his tailgate and proceeded to do some measuring and cutting for some of Jim’s installations on the motor home. He has been working out of town and had a limited amount of time. I marveled at his professional skills. He measured and cut, moving quickly back and forth between the motor home and his tailgate, chattering away as he worked, playing catch-up with his recent activities while racing to get the job done before dark. We sometimes take our kids for granted and I’m so grateful for his talents. He built the two story house I’m living in when he was only 26 years old, the first house that he built all by himself. He has built many custom homes since, then. He has been a carpenter for over 25 years now and has a serious back injury. His doctor considers him disabled but he refuses to be disabled and continues to work, although he has to be more selective about his tasks, especially lifting.
He is camera shy and hates to have his picture taken; he doesn’t read my blog nor do much on the computer, but, I’m proud to declare how proud I am of him and his pride in his workmanship and his maturity and his helpfulness to others.
A loyal friend, and wonderful son, he maintains my rentals and is always doing things for me. Even better, he has a great sense of humor. Thanks, Doug
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