On Route to Agra

Today we leave to start traveling south through India. We wake up early and pack our bags, stuffing them full of newly purchased comfy pants from the day before. I’m already running out of space in my bag. Not a good sign. We eat breakfast on the rooftop patio and try for round two to order a tomato and cheese omelette, and also order a chocolate crêpe. It takes 45 minutes and we are the only people on the roof so I will never understand how that is possible, but at least our omelette comes with tomatoes this time! The crêpe not so much, we get a banana crêpe instead. So close.

We have arranged to meet a family friend of mine, Dolly, at one of her restaurants for lunch. It isn’t too far from our hotel so we decide to take a Rickshaw for the first time ever. I have never been more excited in my life. Rickshaws look SO FUN.

We’ve heard that its best to ask them for a flat rate instead of going by the meter, so we ask the first Rickshaw man we see how much it will cost to go to the Khan Market, and if he knows where Dollys restaurant, The Kitchen, is. He tells us yes, and that it will cost 250 rupees which is less than 5 dollars so we hop in, enthusiastic about our first Rickshaw adventure. It becomes blatantly obvious very quickly that our Rickshaw man is absolutely cray. He keeps saying ” Khan Market, big shopping centre. 10, 15, 20 minutes, no problem! Ok?” and each time we respond with an “Ok”, ” yes”, or “thank you”. This happens about 100 times. This only makes me love my Rickshaw experience even more, I swear I’m smiling so widely my face starts to hurt. He starts adding something about a “lunch box” into his little schpiel. “Big shopping centre. Lunch box. 10, 15, 20 minutes, no problem! Ok?” I disregard it the first few times but then I heard him say “big shopping centre. THEN khan market” somewhere in there, and instantly Ilona and I look at each other in confusion. I ask him if the big shopping centre is in the Khan market…… nope. He has decided that we need to stop at a shopping centre which is “on the way” to the Khan Market, and buy him a lunch box. We tell him no, and that we need to go straight to Khan market for OUR lunch or we will be late. He legitimately sits there for 5 minutes trying to convince us to stop at this mall and buy him lunch. We finally make him agree to take us straight to the Khan market but he tells us that now it will cost another 100 rupees because the price he originally gave us included his lunch. Whatever buddy. I’m just so excited to be there that I don’t care so we agree. We continue to the Khan Market, annoyed with the Rickshaw man. When we finally arrive it turns out he has no idea where The Kitchen is, and suggests that he just let us out in the middle of the market and we walk to find it. I tell him thats cool, but then there is no way we’re paying him 350 rupees. Instead of just lowering the price and letting us out he starts asking people on the street where the The Kitchen is, and finally figures it out and drives us there. We pay him his stupid 350 rupees and asks us for another 50 rupees for his “special service” which consisted of him taking the long way around and into the market to the restaurant. We just do it and we get out. I am over my first Rickshaw experience. Turns out he dropped us a street away from where the restaurant actually is, so we had to ask some people and walk a little bit, (so angry) but we did manage to make it on time to our lunch so whatever.
After we eat our delicious meal with Dolly, we take another Rickshaw back to our hostel. We ask the new Rickshaw man how much it will be to go to the Main Bazar (home), and he tells us it will cost a mere 120 rupees…and drives us there directly, and doesn’t ask us for lunch.
I will forever hate my first Rickshaw man.

We make it back to our hotel, grab our backpacks and get in the car that is taking us to Agra. We drive through farm country where the roads are filled with trucks and vans completely loaded up with people. I mean 20 or sometimes even 30 people crammed into one vehicle. We see more stray cows on the roads, people carrying hay in bundles on their heads, and people who knock on our car windows with cobra snakes in a basket.

When we stop to fill up our tank, at least 5 men who work at the station gather around to help our driver fill up the tank. People in the country are even more intrigued by two white girls than they are in New Delhi.
The country side is beautiful and gives me lots of opportunities to absorb more of the Indian culture. I am in love with the constant stream of surprises this country continues to offer me.

We arrive in Agra at 7:00pm and go straight to our hotel, the Agra Mahal, which is really close to the Taj Mahal (duh), and order beer and butter chicken to our room. We fall asleep soon after. There’s something about the Indian sun, or maybe I am just not used to the time change yet, but I am exhausted. We are eaten alive by mosquitos in our sleep. Thank science for malaria pills.

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India: Market Shopping

We wake up early, because neither of us are used to the time change yet. We hang out in our room and listened to the streets come alive outside our window. Some of the sounds are awful and disgusting like old men spitting on the street, some sounds are loud and obnoxious, like the constant honking of motorbikes, rickshaws, and cars. Pigeons also crowd our window and the hallway outside our room door, cooing all morning. I know that these sounds mean I am really here, and I love it.

Indian Market Shopping

We wake up early, because neither of us are used to the time change yet. We hang out in our room and listened to the streets come alive outside our window. Some of the sounds are awful and disgusting like old men spitting on the street, some sounds are loud and obnoxious, like the constant honking of motorbikes, rickshaws, and cars. Pigeons also crowd our window and the hallway outside our room door, cooing all morning. I know that these sounds mean I am really here, and I love it.
Ilona and I go for breakfast on the rooftop patio of our hotel where I have a banana lassi and chai tea to drink, with a tomato and cheese omelette that has absolutely no tomatoes, and only a very small amount of a mystery cheese.

Ilona has already been here for a week without me, and tells me I need to buy a pair of comfy pants so we decide to go out into the market to find some. She has already bought 8 pairs of pants, and lets me wear a pair of hers to go shopping in. I put them on and I wonder why anyone has ever bothered to make any other style of pants at all. They are heaven.
The market is only one street away from our hotel so I am instantly overcome with the sights, smells and sounds of the market. It’s beautiful, in a really dirty and overwhelming way. Comfy pants are only about 150 rupees- which translates to about $2.75. I buy like 5 pairs in all different colours and patterns. The jewelry is another fabulous find in the market place. Of course the cheap stuff is the kind that will turn your hand green, but it’s so fun to shop for anyway that I can’t help myself. My best purchase was a silver coloured bracelet that links to a ring on my finger. Very cool.

After we have shopped for like, 3 hours and I have spent only $30 dollars, we go to a tourist travel agency nearby and plan our way to Agra, Jaipur, and Goa.

We then go to a rooftop bar in the main market area where we have dinner as the giant red sun sets on the city. It’s lovely. By about 8pm I am exhausted and want to sleep. Which I do, until about 3am when I wake up and cannot sleep anymore. Oh, jet-lag.

India: Departure

A day full of such mixed emotions!
Firstly and fore-mostly, I am excited. I have been waiting to do this for what seems like forever now, and I almost can’t believe it’s really happening. I finish packing up my things, and I’m trying my very very best not to bring anything I don’t need.

Departure

A day full of such mixed emotions!
Firstly and fore-mostly, I am excited. I have been waiting to do this for what seems like forever now, and I almost can’t believe it’s really happening. I finish packing up my things, and I’m trying my very very best not to bring anything I don’t need.