Good Tuesday morning from Agra! I am finally in a place where there are plenty of internet opportunities. I'm writing this from a little hole in the wall for telephone and internet opposite our Hotel Sheela. The keyboard is sticky but it's only going to cost me 30Rs for an hour (about 75 cents).
I am going to write in a stream of consciousness fashion as the ideas occur to me...
India is truly an assault on all the senses. I expected as much from my travels in China, but for some reason the pace seems more frenetic here. We are constantly being accosted by people trying to sell things, from pens and postcards to clothing and other goods. And lots of kids at intersections in Delhi begging...difficult to see. Amazing colours in the women's clothing--it's not unusual to see whole families involved in road construction projects, the women with the saris tucked up around their legs. The roads are plugged with traffic--everything from bicycles, cycle and auto-rickshaws, horse and ox-drawn carts loaded with goods and people, families on motorcycles (dad is the driver and the only one wearing a helmut, mum usually has a baby on her lap and is riding sidesaddle as her sari is fluttering, and a young child is either squashed between the parents or in front of dad), small and large cars, transport trucks, buses (Delhi has the "world's greenest public transit" because the buses are powered by CNG which I assume is compressed natural gas) and pedestrians! It's all a dance with vehicles weaving in and out, never seeming to touch each other although most vehicles seemed to have scatches and bumps, and pedestrians trying to cross the street, hopping in front of vehicles, waiting for gaps to jump forward again (we tried it too and succeeded!)...and a cacophony of horns. It's expected that horns are tooted before overtaking. Vehicles rarely stay in a lane--the lane markings are ignored...a supposed two lane road is actually 4 vehicles wide... And this is all happening in right-hand drive vehicles so of course we North American passengers are a little nervous! But very grateful for our wonderful driver who is calm and very good. Okay, that's enough about the traffic. The smells are different too--smoke and sewage predominate. The pollution is bad--blow your nose and the tissue is black. Dogs everywhere, and last night they seemed to bark all night. No cats. Monkeys and cows wander the streets--well, the monkeys tend to stay up on top of houses or walls and are not all that obvious, but cows are all over. Not so much in Delhi, but certainly on the outskirts and on the road to Agra.
We have seen some amazing sights of course--from mosques and tombs to bazaars and fairs and museums. This morning we were going to go to the Taj for sunrise but it rained all night until just about an hour ago. We are here for another night so are going to try again tomorrow morning. We're meeting our driver shortly and will explore other areas of Agra.
I am really enjoying the food and have had Indian, Chinese, and western so far. Our guest house in Delhi was a great place to start from--our host, Nona, helped ease us into this experience by sending a taxi to pick us up at the airport at the awful hour of 5:30 AM Saturday. There he was, a man in a turban, holding a sign JANET/WENDY. A very welcome sight indeed after 2 nine-hour flights (Calgary to Heathrow, then on to Delhi after a two hour wait). And he proceeded to point out a few sights along the way.
The sun is out--we're off to explore a bit. Write some comments, ask me questions, and I'll do my best to respond.