Delhi to Agra

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Delhi





In the middle of a dense-intense Delhi junction of roughly 6 indefinable 'lanes' of traffic, the taxi driver stopped. The two swollen, white plastic bags slid off his dashboard and onto his lap. He left the car, taking them with him, leaving us there. Dodging rickshaws, taxis, mopeds, cows, and road-side rubbish mounds, stepping up onto the central reservation. He carefully untied the knots in the plastic bags and emptied the bird-seed contents into the middle of an excited flock of Myna birds.
He did it yesterday and the day before, and he'll do it tomorrow, and the next day, 365 days of the year.







Delhi





We followed a sign, amongst a thousand others, for our hostel, down a narrow, twisting alleyway. A most dragged out, bizarre, waiting on a sofa with a pug snoring on my lap, opiate-stoned-off-his-face check-in. Up 6 flights of stairs to our window-less room and then down again and out into Delhi for the day.
Chipmunks as common and feisty as London squirrels. So many street dogs, (aw, Jella). Flocks of Kites circling in the hundreds. Men in turbans or with shawls wrapped around their heads huddled around pavement fires; little fires that are everywhere, on the side of train tracks, on pavements, on doorsteps. Squatting in warm circles, conversation and laughing. Man is cold, man makes fire, man is warm- we laughed at what was such obvious logic but that which would cause such carnage and police reports if we did the same on a pavement on a January morning in London.





Delhi





Mounds of things on heads. House-sized craters in the road. Huge silver cows carved to perfection, eating from rubbish piles. Disconcerting puddles the colour of minty black After-Eight. Every nook and cranny stuffed with activity; men welding, bangle selling, sari sewing, white-rats in cages, lotus-legged paan sellers, sacks of vegetables. So much colour.
We shared a tiny internet cafe with 3 fans pushing muggy air around at high-speed, and police men resting their chins on the ends of the barrels of their great long shotguns, while they waited for photocopies of Doctor's reports. Buildings across the street from each other were joined in a twisting, knotted canopy of wires that sagged down walls and into windows. Messssssmerising. Joyful chaos, smiling faces, head wobbles, goats in jackets. Chandni Chowk bazaar. A continuous horn orchestra: 'I am here!' / 'I am overtaking!' / 'I am driving towards you!'. Driving up whichever side of the road gets ya where ya going.
Sitting on a concrete ledge down a side-street, we had a dinner of pea and potato samosas and hot, sticky, flourescent-orange jalebis. Joined by a rat.





Delhi





Delhi





When the sun set we found our way back across Old Delhi and up the twisting hostel alley, life moving in the dark corners. We avoided the stream of something dripping from somewhere above us. Fires and glowing hands without faces, running feet, a dog fight, radio songs lost in crackling interference, the smell of piss and spices, laughter, singing, a drum procession somewhere...


We were up at 6am for the train to Agra, faces against the bars on the train windows, in the much-colder-than-we-anticipated January air. Decorated mud homes, brick homes, fabric homes, plastic homes, straw homes, corrugated homes, homes in the middle of the After-Eight water, homes in rubbish, homes on sandbags, homes on stilts. The number of men and children you can spot taking a shit! We wonder where the women are shitting... 'Meals on Wheels' whizzed up down up down the carriages singing 'chaaaaiiieeeeeeeeeeee!' 'vegbirianieggbiranichickenbiriani!' 'samossaaaaaaaaaSAMOOOSAAAAA!'. At Agra train station monkeys swung from bamboo scaffolding, slamming down into the crowds, sauntering between human legs and suitcases, tails high, danger-red arses, eyes on the food prize.

On the way to the Taj Mahal for sunrise, our auto-rickshaw driver Hazim, pulled over at a road-side fire where a chai wallah was stirring cardamom into a steaming cauldron of milk and black tea leaves. Holding the ladle high he let a swirling column of thick chai fall through a sieve and into 3 plastic, shot-sized cups. We stood for a few moments, watching 5am Agra wrapped in blankets, emerging in the fog. The plastic cups softened in the heat of the chai and we swallowed our drinks before they collapsed in our fingers. Dogs and goats were sleeping in the embers of yesterday's fires.





The Taj Mahal





 The Taj Mahal





20. 30 Dec-8 Jan 15 XA2 Ekt





26. 30 Dec-8 Jan 15 XA2 Ekt





The Taj absolutely lived up to its 'Wonder of the World'ness. A breathtaking love memorial in the early-morning mist. Hazim picked us up some lunch for our train ride to Gwalior- SPICY green chilli and pea curry in a knotted plastic bag, with puri for dunking. We ate it sitting on a big, white postal sack on the platform, shared between us, a toothless lady, a puppy with its tail hanging off and the inevitable monkeys.





Agra Train Station





Agra Train Station





Five hours hooked on the continuous reel of 3 second long glimpses into the lives outside the windows; people sleeping up against the train tracks, dogs eating dead dogs, games of cricket, dancing wedding processions, ingenious and spectacular methods of transporting goods, more men/children excreting...





Train to Gwalior





Train to Gwalior






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View Larger Map




2 comments:

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  2. So lovely to see your faces, can't wait to meet you again along the road, you lovely beings xx

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