Day 4: Agra, Uttar Pradesh 03/10/2011
Up earlyish (8am) to check out and catch the train from Nizamuddin station to Agra Cantt. Tuk tuk approached at traffic lights by begging children , no older than 6/7, selling pens. Again it is heartbreaking to see these kids living on the street.
Manage to catch the right train and make a new friend in Mohammed and his (extended) family from Gujarat. My new facebook buddy tells me the ins and outs, ups and downs, dos and don’ts of life in India. He has a brother cheekier than Billy. Nice to meet an everyday Indian family and very nice they were too.
The train itself is a very interesting and stimulating place to be. Lots of activity and from the outside the train looks like it is made for cattle. Inside is much better and there are three bunks for sleeping, though one was used for two backpacks. Tea sellers, beggars and people selling all manner of zips, locks, food, toys, keyrings just walk up and down the aisle.
Approached on the train by what Mohammed described as a ‘Middle man’ but what I would describe as ‘a bloke in a sari’. Seems there is a whole community of these people who are between men and women who I guess use the train service to make a living.
Arrive at hotel, have food, and go back to the room to prepare for the early morning. National Lampoons and Batman and Robin on HBO tonight.
Day 5: Agra, Uttar Pradesh 04/10/2011
Up very early. 3 am. Misread my watch. Back to sleep.
Up early again (5.30 this time) to head to the Taj Mahal for sunrise. After getting a rickshaw to the Taj, we realise just what a sh*thole Agra really is. Open sewers, poverty, corruption, grime, stray dogs and sinister looking monkeys do little to suggest the wonders within the city.
My words cannot describe the Taj itself – magnificent. Perhaps not maintained as it should be. Aside from the pollution damage and the graffiti, perhaps a few botched polyfilla jobs don’t really cut it as adequate for a building of this magnificence. Perhaps a job for Ric here.
We are local celebrities again, being the white faces in the crowd. Literally dozens of people, including whole families, queue up to have their photo taken with us. Feel like Beckham. Probably a bit cooler than him though. Just find the photos from these families on Facebook. They are probably there somewhere.
Back to room for a well earned nap and the now essential HBO fix. Rambo First Blood. Really getting into this Bollywood stuff. Didn’t understand a word the lead character said though.
Oh no, Delhi Belly kicks in. Great
Day 6: Agra, Uttar Pradesh 05/10/2011
Awake at 5.15 am for the Marudhar Express to Jaipur. Still Delhicate we are reminded just how nice Agra is. Suffocating air quality and sights, sounds and smells to make your hair curl help make the rickshaw journey fly by.
Rickshaw drops us at what can only be described as the pits of hell. Agra Fort station is seemingly home to hundreds of people. Homeless children, whole families and young men all apparently live on the platforms there. Train apparently delayed by 2 and a half hours.
With my bowels playing havoc and packs of stray dogs fighting, children begging and elderly women urinating on the floor in the middle of the platform I begin to wish I was elsewhere. Numerous trips to the filthy squat toilets does little to quash the feeling.
Meet a nice couple from London/San Francisco who are on the same train as us. We compare notes on India and agree Agra should be done in 24 hours or less.
Train rocks up at 12.30, just the six hours late. 5 hours to Jaipur fly by and begin to feel both rehydrated and like an adult human again.
Check into a beautiful hotel, the Krishna Palace (ta Andy la) which we would thoroughly recommend. Clean sheets, lovely rooftop restaurant and poached eggs on toast and pasta makes the pair of us feel a million dollars. First beer of the trip. Goes straight to head. Later discover that Kingfisher is 8% in India. Strong.
A great trip so far for the pair of us. Incredible experiences and sights and even Agra station seems like it has helped us to become slightly more seasoned world trekkers.