Agra, India

Wednesday, June 19, 1929

Woke up this morning about six with the rain coming down on us. It was a big temptation to stay out in it, but on second thought came inside and continued our sleep.

After chhota hazri, Frank came back from the photographers with lots of good reports about our latest snaps and of our time exposures of the Taj and a bulb snap I took indoors. Thus my kodak is now vindicated of all blame for poor pictures, since I repaired the bellows. The kodak rolls themselves were spoiled from being carried around with me in the heat and moisture since Port Said. I only had three left, so took them down to a man who has regularly been jipping us on prices, and exchanged them for Ilford films. This done, I discovered my second flat tire within an hour, and raised cain with the bike man once more. Poor cuss has had to repair no less than seven punctures during the last four days and only three tires this morning.

Today is the day of the big tamashe. I learned more of what it is all about today. The four days of festivities have been set aside by the Prophet in memory of his wars and of his two sons who were, I think, killed during this period. It is a time of great celebrating. The effigies of the man-headed horse with angel wings is a long story, according to a man with whom Mort fell into conversation, but in short it represents the coat of arms or banner which the Prophet carried into battle.

The activities of today were much more lively. This morning small bands of floats accompanied by drummers, fife players, and shouting singing mobs marched into the main bazaar from all directions, paraded up the narrow flag-stoned street, then turned to the right into a smaller street—all the while moving very slowly with many stops. Every little while a knot of men would work themselves into a frenzy.

The objective was a place a mile distant from the town, and here all were to assemble. Hither we slowly made our way—with many stops, so many in fact, that it was past noon before we finally decided to return home for lunch. Mort got a peacock feather fan for 15¢. We came to a place where hundreds of people had gathered to eat, rest, and watch the processions pass slowly along the road. Here were what one might call ferris wheels—small affairs with four wooden baskets in which four men would pile and “go to town.” There was one merry-go-round, a frame revolving about on a central pole from which chairs hung.

The torrid heat was fierce and we were sure hot by the time we had walked back through the city and ridden the bikes back to the hotel. Had a little rain late in the afternoon that cooled things off somewhat.

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