Chicken Denied Entry to Taj Mahal: Security Risks Cited

We travel with the rubber Chicken. I spent a lot of time in India in 2007 and during one extended trip Linda joined me for about 10 days. I was based in Mumbai for work, and we also visited Goa (beach), Delhi, and Agra. The Taj Mahal is in Agra – a several hour drive from Delhi via the ‘highway of death‘.

There is a reasonable level of security at the entrance to the Taj Mahal (metal detector and a pat down). Since the Chicken is not metal, we passed the first test. I had the Chicken in the pocket of my shirt, so it was visible (it did not occur to me that maybe I should hide the Chicken). Following the metal detector, you encounter a security officer who performs a physical inspection (separate for men and for women).  The security officer saw the Chicken, grabbed the Chicken, looked at the Chicken, laughed at the Chicken, pulled on the Chicken to ascertain its composition, and then promptly told me I could not enter the grounds with the Chicken. He informed me that I would need to check the Chicken in the bag storage facility and pointed me in the appropriate direction. I argued the Chicken was safe and not a threat to the Taj Mahal or any visitors – ‘pictures only – rubber’. The security guard laughed and again pointed me to bag storage, where I paid about US$1 to check the Chicken (note on exit I was solicited for a bribe to recover the Chicken – since we have two I would have left the Chicken – but a very brief but loud and animated display quickly resulted in the prompt return of the original Chicken).

Next Chicken stop – Grand Canyon.

New Theme

Hope you like the new theme (thank you, Gaby). I had not intended to get a new theme but disaster struck the blog on Thursday night. After about 8 to 10 hours of work (and much frustration) we are back up and going. Thanks to all those who emailed me to tell me the site was down (all zero of you frequent readers).

I still am not sure what happened but suspect it was related to a minor version upgrade early in the week. Fortunately, I back up the database before such changes and though I have never previously needed the backup, it averted disaster (i.e. loss of everything) this time.

Thanks for reading.

Kilimanjaro 2010

One of my life ‘to do’ items is to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Linda and I have begun planning a trip for 2010. If anyone would like to consider joining us, please let us know. A small group of friends is organizing a ‘planning session’ this fall, probably in Seattle. Current thinking for the actual climb is sometime over the summer of 2010, coinciding with the next World Cup to be hosted in South Africa. While more crowded, this (June to October) is one of the two ‘best’ times to climb the mountain (the other being January to March).

Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania and stands just over 19,000 feet, with a vertical rise of approximately 15,000 feet. The Wikipedia details are here. As a reference, Colorado ski resorts peak at approximately 9,000 to 10,000 feet (Arapahoe Basin is 10,800). The climb is not considered technical – the danger and the challenge to the human body is generally the altitude. Approximately 35,000 people a year attempt to summit Kilimanjaro, with a casualty rate of approximately .02%.

Leading trekking agencies include:

In preparation, we have acquired a couple of books: Kilimanjaro – The trekking guide to Africa’s highest mountain (Stedman); Altitude Illness – Prevention and Treatment (Bezruchka); Northern Tanzania – The Brandt Safari Guide (Briggs). The NY Times also had a short article in the Travel section in January 2008.

Physically and mentally, in addition to regular exercise, we are planning our next few ski trips to Colorado (altitude), a summer 2009 hiking trip in the Rocky Mountain National Park (Long’s Peak is at 14,225 feet), and a possible hike up to Machu Picchu (about 8,000 feet). Depending on interest at our planning session, short excursions to non-technical sections Mount Ranier National Park and North Cascades National Park may also make the preparation agenda.

More to follow.