Andrew gets the clap from a transsexual

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
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Trip End Feb 26, 2011


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Where I stayed
Smyle Inn

Flag of India  , Uttar Pradesh,
Monday, March 22, 2010

A difficult decision this one should we have called todays blog "Our second wonder of the world in 7 days" or "Andrew gets the clap from a transsexual". Looks like Andrew wins.

The day began very early as we had decided that we would take a train to Agra today to see the iconic Taj Mahal. This was one of the places that I have always wanted to visit just to see this magical place in the flesh.  We packed our 'day sack' with water, rough guide, camera, money, sun cream and mosquito spray, I had the passports and cash card in my neck pouch (obviously an Andrew special purchase) and got to the Main Bazaar at 5.45am to flag down a auto-rickshaw to take us to the train station on the other side of Delhi.

We made our way into the main bazaar to hail a auto-rickshaw to take us to the Delhi's 2nd train station.  We agreed on a price of 150 rupees down from 300.  The bazaar was rather quiet however at the end of the road near the train station absolute carnage was taking place as usual. We got stuck (as did everybody else) so our Rickshaw Driver pulls a few smart moves and surprise surprise we have our first Rickshaw crash, nothing too serious but still a crash all the same. The day was certainly turning out to be a cracker. It's almost like someone has put a curse on us today.

As we finally got towards the train station (with no booking for the train) the rickshaw driver pulled over and suggested he would like his 300 rupees. We told him we agreed 150 and an argument commenced. "150 per person". As we were told the train was leaving at 06:30 and it was now 06:15 we started saying "No, No, No". He now decided he wanted 250. Again we said no he then came down to 200, we still refused to pay, then he jumped out and started to block me from getting out. We decided to call it a day as we had a train to catch and reluctantly forked out the 200R. This was difficult for a man of principle but it is 60p and we had to look to the bigger picture.

We eventually found a ticket office and queued up for a while and managed to get two tickets for a total of 100 rupees but with no seat numbers. We found the platform and the train arrived. I know Erica does not like me talking about such things but the train tracks are covered in fecies so the whole station and platform just absolutely stink. We jumped into the lowest class carriage and well, shall we say this is what traveling is all about? It had no windows only bars, no lights were on, we squeezed 6 people width ways on each bench and our legs would then cross with the people we are facing. There were no other tourists in this class surprisingly enough and a lot of people wanted to stare at us. As we had no seats reserved people continued to arrive and say we were in their seats so we would move again and again.

Eventually the train started and feeling a little uncomfortable about the whole India vibe we had seen so far and this part of the journey was no exception. Such Poverty, Such a smell, Such Pollution it is difficult to explain. We went through the slums and people were just shitting staring at the train as it was stopped. If you looked out of the 'window' sorry hole in the wall you would be looking at maybe 15 people looking back at you with either nothing on and making a deposit. All very very culturally different.

The fun on the train soon started to take place as well. The many food vendors and newspapers, phone cards, snacks such as Scorpions, Chai, more beggars in the carriage. We had street children performing dances then pulling at your shorts for money. Next came the group of transsexuals, a group of about 15 rather strange looking ladies. Every man in the carriage got 'petted' and everyman in the carriage paid up 10 Rupees or so. Erica warned me and then the tug at my shirt came, "hello handsome", please at this point bear in mind that the man next to me also said no so I responded "No". "Handsome I want some money don't make me put a curse on you", "No!" Then they all surrounded me and started clapping at me while they put this curse on me. If only we felt we could use a camera on that train to capture some of the 'madness'.

Anyway about 5 minutes after the curse a big pile of muck got thrown through the window which although missed me went all over Erica and the guy next to the window. I think the curse had started well before. Next the train appeared to break down and stopped for half an hour. The temperature had increased significantly and with no A/C we started to bake. The 4 hour train journey lasted for 6 hours and we could barely walk, talk or anything else, Erica was mad to say the least. We then had to try to book a train ride home for that night. This took about an hour queuing. We got to the front of the queue got a reservation (finally) and the man told us we owed him 800 Rupee  this is 11 pounds, hugely different from what we paid on the way here. I told Erica we would have to pick into the reserve cash she had in the 'hidden bag'. She checked the bag, no money. I check my pockets the day pack and every where else no money. People are shouting in the queue at us but we couldn't do anything we had no money. Why did I get the clap? 10 Rupees and my day would have been ok.

We argued with the man and gave him all the money we had and ran to a cash point being hassled by about 10 taxi drivers. Argued with people at the cash point pushing in, got more money and back to the desk to queue again to pay. Shambles.

We then get a prepay taxi to avoid getting ripped off jump in a car then we get joined by the local tour operator who put a high pressure tour package on us. As expected explained that we were not like the other tourists and could not afford. In the end his 500 Rupee tour came down to 300 and we decided to pay him to save the hassle of of more incidents like the double price in the morning.

The Taj Mahal is truly beautiful. Really stunning. I can't say any more than that. We have said many times on the trip Imagine who has been here / walked here etc. We see the iconic seat where Diana was photoed symbolising the end of her and Prince Charles relationship etc. and we just found various areas of shade with a great view and just sat looking for 10 minutes at a time.

We also saw the Indian FoneJacker.

We then go to the fort another beautiful building before meeting our driver and 'tour operator' again. This time it was no longer a taxi and the driver was a lot 'bigger', bearing in mind the morning shambles I decided to tell the guys that we were staying a hostel and would be able to recommend more people to do his tours. There was no price increase and he was fantastically helpful to us and explained about his life, his father died when he was 10, he never went to school, not even for a day but pays for all four of his children to go to school, it was all very interested and worth the additional bit of cash.

The seat numbers are published on boards around the station and you have to find yourself on a list before you can find out what seat number you are in. We then sat chatting to an Italian guy for an hour whilst the sun set and we waited for our train. This guy had come to the end of 2 months in India and he flew back to Italy that evening. he was giving his money to some of the beggar children. Another couple next to us also gave a small boy with no legs some money. These situations are very disturbing, we got deep and philosophical with the Italian guy about the lack of a future for these kids, how much we appreciate the basics of water and toilets. Then the older kids came down the station and emptied the pockets of the kids who had just got the money, including the child with missing legs and they were left with nothing again. I suppose that is how it all works but it is very difficult to watch and not intervene. One kid resisted and got kicked in the privates they even pulled down their pants to make sure they were not hiding any coins down there. They then got hit with a brush before being left alone again. Anyway I'm falling back into rant mode.

The train back to Delhi was in 'bunks' in an air conditioned carriage which was much more refined, although you couldn't see out of the tinted windows (we had two top bunks as well). Got back to Delhi station at about 22:15 and headed straight back for a veg fried rice before bed.

One thing from yesterday we forgot to blog. I got my arm brushed with a vibrating hair brush, got offered an electric razor but perhaps more impressive was the comment "Sir, can you tell me is that beard died or is that a natural colour, its very very nice". You also have to see the number of Indian men who die their hair the strangest colour of red, I think I might be a Ginger Icon.
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Comments

farknash
farknash on

a&e - this is great stuff. insightful and engaging and all that sh1t. nice work.

Gregg on

Andrew n Ecka-2,
I challenge you to find a Jonejacker in each country you visit......do you accept?!

Gregg& Graeme on

Andrew.......We see how your iconic status is growing and growing.....I (Gregg) am now not so conscious about my ginger beard :)

Mum on

Missing you Erica & Andrew. But remember..........muck for luck!!!!! lol :)

Jan on

Wow, what a day! I've just arrived in London from Manchester via virgin, similar train journey!!!! Sounds like you are really experiencing the real world out there. Taj looks fantastic

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