Been awhile! Sorry about the wait.
My morning memories of this particular leg of the journey are a little fuzzy. I think part of it is the time that’s gone on since this journey and the constant heat stroke/sickness that I was getting. I thought the sun and heat might have roasted the experience into my noodle but apparently not!
Either way, we’d gotten up early to hit the Jaipur train station for our next leg which was Agra! The plan was to take a 4hr am train, visit for the day, then be out on the overnight train to Varanasi that evening. Taj Mahal and Agra Fort here we come! On a personal level I felt visiting the Taj Mahal was one of those ‘things’ that ‘everyone’ ‘has to do’ when they visit ‘India’. THAT and yoga. OR Chai Tea. BUT fuck you Chai Tea is awesome.
Now, I know for a fact that it was that morning that I started to feel ‘off’. My initiation to the country was truly beginning, down a slippery brown slope to a porcelain salvation, as we were riding the train to Agra. Suraj had had a touch of stomach trouble but was carrying himself well, and we were both pretty sure the anti-malarial doxycyclene was keeping everything at bay. WELP! The gloves were starting to come off.
Yea yea the Taj Mahal and all that.
But by god I have NEVER! EVER! felt that bad in my life.
On the beginning leg of this train ride or the next leg to Varanasi, I was so paranoid about shitting myself (which I did on one or both legs *badum-tiss*) I couldn’t commit to sleeping. Anyway! Hitting the Agra station we hired a driver to drag us (or at least me) around the city for the day. He kinda reminded me of a kindly used ashtray that spat paan (a tabacco/spiced chew). Basically my hero and saviour. This was the man I WANTED to be.
Fuck it was hot.
I felt like such garbage that we opted to get a hotel room for the day, where we could have a place to dump our belongings, shower, and where I could purge from every single major and minor orifice of my body. And whoah boy did I! After checking in and dumping stuff off *badum-tiss* we headed for the Taj Mahal. Dropped off near one of the entrances (there are several but most of the roads were under construction), we made our confusing way to the ticket kiosk and further away to a baggage check area. We’d tried to get in with our bags and had kind of made it inside but security got pissed and tossed us back out to check them.
No surprise, no cover from the sun.
I thought it was pretty cool crossing carts drawn by camels and the throngs of visiting people while Suraj was getting pissed off at constantly being asked if he was my guide. We cued up and made our way inside past security. Now the whole complex is quite beautiful, there’s great red stone walls surrounding the Taj Mahal and the architecture of some of the entrances is breath taking. I find it’s personally funny though. Not that the Taj Mahal isn’t a beautiful building, I just feel like it’s one of those words that gets used so much that it loses it’s meaning. Thoughts?
Part of what did it was the loads of people taking photos of themselves or friends/family striking the same pose in front of the Taj Mahal. Or the selfies/people were taking inside it. I don’t know it’s weird. I mean the place is a mausoleum. The inside of the Taj Mahal had a really interesting hum to it. I figure it was the resonance of myself and the other people there. I would have loved to get a sound sample.
Having toured around the complex, we took a couple of breaks as Suraj was pretty convinced he was getting either sun or heat stroke. Having become lifetime member of both clubs right off the bat I
welcomed him. Stumbling out of the site, we retrieved our stuff, pulled ourselves together for the next major stop which was Agra Fort. What blew me away was the size and colour of the red stones that formed the exterior walls of the structure. Some areas were blocked off due to restoration and we’d thought we’d only be able to get into one area but we managed to see a lot more of the fort.
One of the pains that would kind of rear it’s head more than once was the needing to stay cool and hydrated vs. being present enough to enjoy seeing some of the sights. I know more than once I’d call it a day early just because I couldn’t bear the heat and the sun. Which in hindsight is a bummer but also just leaves more to come back to!
Having made it through both sites we headed back to tour room to prepare for the next leg of our journey. Cold showers, the attempt of a little rest, a run of diarrhea and vomiting.
FEELING FRESH FOR THE NEXT STEP!
Before our train we walked around the local neighbourhood. A fantastic experience that had us going down streets lined with motorcycle garages, mechanics, parts, people. We saw our first fight, but I figured considering the population and the heat, arguments were bound to break out. Stopping a kiosk we got some dried peas and nuts to snack on for our ride.
Dragging my dead ass onto the platform we waited to board our next leg. Suraj and I would be sleeping in separate berths, I was in a berth with part of a family traveling to Varanasi. The train was leaving late so we’d be arriving early early in the morning.
Sweating, Shaking, kinda Sleeping, we rode on through the night to Varanasi.