Day 6 (continued)

Toby's Indian Adventure


I'm now on a train which may or may not be going to Agra and to be honest I don't really care very much. I lost Cameron entirely. I went back to his hotel to see him but he had checked out of the hotel. Alas poor Cameron I knew him well.

The train is not as crowded as I had expected it to be and I have managed to get a seat. Or more to the point I was found me by the other passengers. I am experiencing a major language boundary which is not helped by my inability to pronounce any words properly. We are moving into the countryside with its rough shanty towns and brick works. We stop at the odd station here and there so I think it's probably not the express train.

We've just stopped by another train and through the barred windows on our train we can just make them out through the bars of theirs. It is somehow reminiscent of the trains in the holocaust - less crowded and hopefully heading towards a better fate.

I am glad that it is only February here as it is quite warm enough. There has been a bit of a commotion. About what I don't know but it had got to the point when one of the soldiers on the train has taken his rifle out. Then lots of amusement all round.

* * * 

Saw a sign saying Agra when the train stopped. Got off, had cigarette, waved the train goodbye. Discovered that I was in Mathura. Where? Went out of station after purchasing chains to lock my bag so I could stash it in the station. Met the friendly rickshaw walahs, Asked to be taken somewhere nice, a temple or something, no shops, no hotels. Ended up at the birth place of Krishna. Amazing temple.

Oh, I've seen my first monkeys but sadly also my first mosquito. Luckily I was resourceful enough to put my mosquito spray in my day bag (which needs to be re-thought a little).

The 'guide' was not impressed with my 'donation' to the temple of only 10 Rupees but I stuck it out and made a point of buying some change so that I could give some to the donation boxes (one at each altar). I am becoming a much better haggler especially with yesterdays auto-rickshaw fiascos with heated arguments with pointing, pushing money into pockets, getting out of them and not paying when they try to take you to a shop. I think westerners are seen as a soft touch who can afford it anyway - which may be true but I want to give money to those who I choose not those who choose me.

An auto-rickshaw

I seem to be pretty much a novelty here. I'm not sure how many people do come through here. I have also noticed that people are fascinated by my writing but I suppose I would stare if I saw someone writing Hindi. It can be disconcerting when you think that despite the fact that they don't speak any English that they still might be able to read it.

Mathura is a place where a strange face in town seems to be cause for excitement. I spent about what seemed like half an hour wandering around the half deserted backstreets looking for a place to stay. With an entourage of chattering men and children. (The children were the real hard-core give me your watch type blaggers). I did have the odd vision of being mugged at one point but Karma prevailed in the end. The natives just seem to think that I am just a little insane.

No-one speaks much English and the signs are all in Hindi so it was a matter of more luck than judgement that I ended up in my hotel. I appreciate the fan. This place must be hell in the summer. I must start to learn some Hindi to make the travelling easier. My watch attracted far too much attention. What would have happened if they knew it glowed in the dark - I hate to think. Rang home and it seems I will be an uncle very soon.

I had some very good pan today. I think it was because I had my entourage with me at the time. I have also learnt that if I sing whilst walking along then no-one seems to bother me at all.