Gwalior to Orchha

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Gwalior Fort

Hiking up the 700 steps to Gwalior's magnificent fort on the hill, decorated with stone ducks and elephants painted yellow and blue, we met a boys cricket match on a dusty levelled out platform half way up. One of the boys handed Angus the bat. Luckily he hit the ball. We explored up and down the narrow stone stairways and passages between what once were bathing chambers and music rooms, until we stupidly ran out of water (with the 4km walk down the hill and through the hot city via a climb around the 50ft tall carvings in the cliff-face, still to go).

Cricket at Gwalior Fort

Gwalior Fort




At Gwalior station, waiting for the train to Jhansi, a boy with glistening eyes started talking to us in near perfect English. His name was Aman, he was 12 years old, and his English was good because he 'listens in school and likes reading Shakespeare.' He talked mostly to Angus, (...male to male...), sharing details about each others lives. They were quickly surrounded by a growing group of boys and men, arms around one another, heads titled to the side... Aman translated questions in Hindi and everyone shuffled a little closer, grinning. He said they were curious to see an Indian talking English to a foreigner. Phones were taken out for photos with the foreigners. More joined what was now becoming a large crowd, 'Curious.', Aman said to us with a coy smile, nodding towards the newbies. After an hour on the platform he joined us on the train, and offered to work out translations for us so we knew when we should get off. We didn't yet know that this whole event of kindness from a stranger and attention quite strange to us, would happen at every station platform. 
First question, 'Is this your wife?', to which we quickly learned that it was much less complicated to say 'Yes'.
'How many children?'.
Consistently ignored in male conversation and at the receiving end of the unstoppable stare, I sat quiet, entertained by the endlessly interesting stuff happening on the platform. A 'good' 'wife'. ;-) While Angus Fulton broke hearts on train station platforms across India.

Gwalior Train Station

10. 8 Jan - 10 Jan 15 XA2 Ekt

15. 8 Jan - 10 Jan 15 XA2 Ekt

16. 8 Jan - 10 Jan 15 XA2 Ekt


The train arrived into Jhansi at 10pm, 4 hours late. Most of the journey had been spent moving at 10mph through thick fog, to the sound of the deafening horn that made sure the people/animals that would be sleeping on the tracks got the hell outta the way. We walked up and down the platform looking for Muna, the driver who'd come to meet us from the home-stay. Some shouts and we turned to see a tall Indian man with bright orange hair jumping and flapping his shawl like he was trying to fly, revealing a fluffy, sparkling jumper. He would have fit right in walking around a London Art College and yet couldn't have been further from it. He rushed us to his auto-rickshaw and we offered him some bourbon biscuits which he ate in one smiling mouthful. Cold, dark, and the fog enveloped everything that existed more than a few feet in front of us... But it was late and nothing could deter Muna's determined enthusiasm, so we hurtled into the screen of white, towards Orchha. Navigating decisions could only have come from memory and good guesses (though we drove right off the road a good 4 times avoiding the lorries that suddenly appeared 4 feet in front of us). The single windscreen wiper didn't work so Angus hung out of the side of the rickshaw, one hand wiping the windscreen with newspaper, the other hand shining his supersonic torch ahead in the hope it might help illuminate the thick, white nothingness in front of us; which part of him was holding onto the rickshaw as it swung around the corners through almighty pot-holes, I don't know. Muna jumped up and down in his seat, giving Angus the thumbs up and letting out high-pitched belly laughs. 



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