We checked out of our hotel in Delhi and grabbed a cab for the train station. Reading about the mayhem that is driving and experiencing it first hand are two very different ideas. The free-for-all that was the boarding process in Beijing is mirrored on the streets, not so much driving laws as driving suggestions. The message is clear: one foot on the gas and one hand on the horn. Strangely I was at peace with the process given how bad a back seat driver I am at home. It was a good initiation since the taxi in Agra only had three seat belts (with four of us in the cab) the driver put his on midway through the ride and I felt a twinge of nerves. In a couple of jangly bits he took us up some streets against the flow of traffic.
Locating the station was Chelle’s first chance to try out some Hindi and it aided in our arrival. Our time in the international tourist bureau getting rail tickets was similar to any government office anywhere in the world I’d expect. Long lines and frustrated travelers. The train ride was lovely with an opportunity to sample some samosas and more delicious chai. Unfortunately the acrid air of Delhi extended it’s long reach to Agra. It feels as if I swallowed a combination of sawdust, dirt and sulphur granules.
Moving through the exit we were instantly corralled by a group of car hops or guides trying to usher us to their waiting taxis. Pre-paid is the way to go and we were sheparded by an old Indian man who called himself Ali Baba but also Raj later in the day. A hotel mix up had us see the Agra Fort ahead of schedule. We worked out a deal for him to ferry us around the city for two days. Surprising to me that we left our bags in his trunk while touring the fort. We both decided that if they left there would be less to carry around the rest of the trip.
We even crossed the street on foot to the fort a small distance. I nearly ended up as a hood ornament of a rickshaw on the walk back to the car. Getting to our hotel followed another adventure through the streets.The honking happens constantly, which I think is a high pitched “eff you” while Chelle believes it’s a “hey I’m right here” but probably bits of both. Whichever it may be, one aspect remains. It takes nerves of steel to be behind the wheel, and ice water in your veins to be the passenger.