King Rat (gkr) wrote,
King Rat

Agra, Uttar Pradesh

Fell asleep last night so I didn't get to complete my entry with the day's events. At 8 a.m., I checked out of the hotelin what was amadhouse of French and German tourists. Driving by, Sitaram counted 4 busses of them checking out at the same time.

On the way out of Delhi, he stopped at the Bahá'í House of Worship. We waited outside for a bit, because we didn't know before arrive that the temple did not open until 9:30 a.m. While walking in, two Indians wanted to take their picture with me. I also caught a gaggle of adolescent girls take sly glances at me and nervously giggling when I caught them. I need to stop the next person who does this and ask what they find fascinating about my appearance. I am certainly not the only westerner they have seen.

The drive to Agra took about 4 hours. The distance between Delhi and Agra measures only about 120 miles. However India does not have a freeway system. We frequently slowed for cows, auto-rickshaws, people crossing, slow moving tourist busses, trucks, and probably ten other things I forget. We also stopped twice for slow queues at toll booths (Rs. 35) and once at the Haryana-Uttar Pradeshborder where the driver disappeared for 15 minutes to pay tax.

While waiting for him the local tourist attack brigade swooped in. In Delhi, I saw a bit of thie performing animal racket. At India Gate both snake charmers and monkey handlers tried to get me to pay for performances and pictures. The monkeys looked poorly kept. At the tax plaza, handlers introduced a new poorly kept animal, dancing sloth bears. These bears looked absolutely miserable. They train them to dance by beating on their front paws. I've steadfastly refused to pay for such performances or pictures.

It's time to mention the incredible poverty I've seen here in India. I particularly noticed this on the New Delhi-Agra drive. At worst, I saw thousands of corrugated and thatch hut shanty-town houses. More normal are red-brick adobe apartments in shamblingdisrepair. All over-crowded. Transportation for the masses consists of walking, overcrowded busses in disrepair, auto-rickshaws with up to 10 people packed in, and worse.

Again in Agra, the guide steered me in to a commission racket place. This time the goods were marble inlay work. And this time I consented to purchase overpriced goods. Although I'm sure the guide will be disappointed in his commission because I only bought some coasters. The salesman was much lesshigh pressure than in Delhi. When I came to India, I expected to buy some overpriced souvenires. Still, my guideline is not too expensive, and it has to be something I would use. I didn't want a Persion rug, nor can I use a marble tabletop. A set of coasters, not so bad.


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