The Beggar by the Relax Hotel
Agra Travel Blog› entry 24 of 41 › view all entries
The Relax Hotel was the ultimate low-budget place to stay in Agra. I had found the place on a trip home from Iran in 1976 and was glad it was still here. Costing about seventy-five cents a night, it was damp and dingy, but our room was on the second floor, faced the street, and included a balcony which was nicely contained behind a three-foot wall. The terrace provided both a splendid survey platform to observe the busy street below, and a fine refuge from that chaotic realm.
After taking a picture of Chris, across the street buying our lunch, I inadvertently made eye contact with one of the beggars, for just a millisecond. The middle-aged man was powerfully built and his tilted white turban, his neatly trimmed beard, and his gray suit-coat gave him a distinguished, tycoon appearance.
Chris and I enjoyed five days in Agra. We would never comprehend the scruples of India's strange culture but found each day exotic and fascinating; sometimes gruesome and frustrating, but always wondrous. On our final night on the balcony, the beggar with tiny, twisted feet appeared out of the dark. I aimed to toss him a couple of coins but he missed my gaze and spoke with several men savoring late-night chais. They handed the pauper a hard-boiled egg which he shared with two dogs, nearly his own height.