Crap and the Taj in the same day!

Agra Travel Blog

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Ahhh - The Taj Mahal.


 From Jodhpur to Agra by us is 14 hours.  We left at 4:15 p.m. and we arrived around 6:30 a.m.  Travel by sleeper bus is always an adventure in patience, impermanence, sleep deprivation, and dark humor. While it is cheap and convenient, it is my least favorite means of transportation.  The roads are poorly maintained, resulting in constant bumping, rattling, and weaving.  It is impossible to journal.  Additionally, it is difficult to sleep, further impacted by the relentlessly sounding horns.  Reading is somewhat nauseating, though possible.  Therefore, it is essential to charge the ipod, grab a shawl/blanket and some snacks.

  But water before travel should be measured as stops are sporadic at best and emergency pit stops nonexistent (and I have not figured out how to pee from the window…yet.) Expertly, we climbed aboard and grabbed our bunks.  We stocked up on roasted peanuts, chips, water, and the ever-present Hide & Seeks.  Off we went.  Not long after, as I tried to read Lonely Planet's Goa section, the staring began.  The packed bus housed over 50 people on this journey.  About 4 stood besides my bunk talking.  I partly drew the curtains for some privacy.  But the Indian young men kept lifting it to peer in and see what I was doing, which I didn't think was too exciting.  Unable to sleep or read, and attempting to block out the intruding eyes, I pulled myself into lotus, covered my legs in my red shawl, and read.  I lasted an hour, then drew the curtain firmly closed and attempted to sleep ~ ever thankful for my noise reducing headphones and ipod.
Stealing a photo opp.

 I was awakened in the middle of the night by elbows jabbed into my back.  I push back, and so it went for a few hours.  At 2:00 a.m., we stopped for food.  Periodic stops, every 2-5 hours, are normal, but I never know where or when they will occur.  So on the occasion I took the opportunity to relieve myself. I walked over a short distance to a wall, and peed.  Still 1/2 asleep, I returned to the bus, climbed back into my birth, and thought to myself, "Man, it smells like shit in here!"  I reached to remove my shoes, and saw why...

 Enmeshed in both my shoes was the larges, wettest, greenest crap I'd ever seen.  And in the process of climbing up into my birth, I'd managed to spread it onto my white zip-away cargo pants.

Looking chipper after another bus ride.
  Of course, the bus was now motoring along, so no stopping now.  Impermanence, accept things as they are, not who I want them to be, no cravings or aversions, I thought to myself. 

 Fortunately, the windows open.  I took my shoes and smacked them together as we were pulling onto the Hwy, jettisoning chunks of crap from my shoes with each slap.  It was wet, so only so much I could, but I did manage to lose some 95% of it.  Next my pants, with some drinking water and emergency toilet paper, I wiped my pants.  I accepted Indian custom, and threw each sheet from the bus window.  I filled about 2 hours with this detail oriented task sanitizing my hands, I discovered more, re-sanitizing, rediscovering.   I was proud of myself for not reacting emotionally.  When I was done, I kept the window cracked, since it still stank, and went back to sheepishness.

For perspective, Dan is in middle at the bottom!



I as awakened at 5:00 a.m. by locals screaming to each other across the bus. Not because they were fighting, just talking.  Dan yelled over, "Hey Jason, what are you doing."  "Nothing, just sitting here at 5:00 a.m." I hollered back!  The Indians looked at us, wondering why were yelling, or maybe just because we interrupted their conversation...

 Finally, Agra at 6:30 a.m.  We ditched our stuff at Yash Cafe, had some chai, and made our way to the Taj.  The fist glimpse of the Taj is truly awe inspiring - marble, shimmering, the unmistakable dome and spires.

  It is a work of perfection, symmetry, stunning beauty and reverence for love.  Though after 30 minutes, we had seen it, were tired, and ready to move on.  We snapped some photos, circumvented it, sat and admired it, saw the tiny museum, then left for lunch at a rooftop restaurant.  I bough a ring from an elderly Muslim man in white who had an unauthorized antique shop in a guesthouse, then we retrieved our bags and headed to the train station to catch the 5:15 to Delhi

 With 10 minutes to spare, I purchased 2nd class tix to Delhi.  We made our way to the platform and purchased water for the ride.  Dan caught the vendor attempting to slip in an open 3/4 full bottle of water.

Outside the Taj.
  Another reminder to be ever vigilant of the scamming, raw nature of India.  Angry and tired, I paid for new bottle, but resented not yelling at him. Sometimes too much slides by. 

 But the train arrived and we piled into sleeper class, stole a seat, and claimed it as our own.  I tried to read and write.  3 hours to Delhi, my shoes still caked with cow crap from the night before.  I chatted the last hour with a Sikh and an Indian stoner.  After a lot of confusion about whether the train stopped at New Delhi, we concluded it did not.  Rather than transfer trains, we jumped off and caught a rickshaw for Rs 90.  When we arrived at our hotel at Paharganj, we saw the railway station 100 yards away.  So it goes. 

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Ahhh - The Taj Mahal.
Ahhh - The Taj Mahal.
Stealing a photo opp.
Stealing a photo opp.
Looking chipper after another bus …
Looking chipper after another bus…
For perspective, Dan is in middle …
For perspective, Dan is in middle…
Outside the Taj.
Outside the Taj.
Feeling totally wiped!
Feeling totally wiped!
photo by: rotorhead85