IX: Taj Mahal

The elegant ruins at Orcha were magnificent, haunted by vultures & flanked by two gorgeous swimmable rivers. It was a lovely place to spend a few days. Unfortunate they didn’t have ESPN, so last Saturday I hopped the twenty k to Jansi, drew out a little extra money & treat myself to a great hotel for the footy. My six pounds bought me veritable luxury & some of the best food I’ve tasted so far. It has been a bit of a tradition recently, every Saturday trawling thro’ hotels to get the best picture for the six hour footython of the English Premiership. ‘We have hot shower,’ they say, or ‘we have good air conditioning’, or ‘we have nice price’ – but for me, on a Saturday, I am only interested in a good quality TV picture. Talking of which, the first ever Indian Big Brother – BIG BOSS – has just begun; peopled by Bollywood actors & one token gay guy. The sexes are kept separate, & all the men are smooth, muscly types – far from the rag-tag collection of muppets in the UK. My highlight of Jahnsi, an otherwise nondescript typical city, was playing MORTAL KOMBAT for one rupee a time in this little hut with a load of Indian boys – I managed to win a couple of games but they really kicked my ass.

Then I finally saw the Taj Mahal. Agra is on the way back to Delhi, so I thought fuck it. Money a bit low now, so instead of paying to get in, I climbed a fence & skirted the perimeter along the river. This afforded me a glorious view of the thing, quite spectacular really, with beautiful polished marble & an aristocratic sense of superiority. Once I had had my obligatory spliff there, I just bedded down in a scruffy hotel for the night. Next morning I arrived at Fataphur Sikri, another small town nestling at the bottom of magnificent ruins – the splendor of Mughal India is truly only a memory now. Spent the day winding up the guides, who offer a tour for ‘free,’ then hit you for cash. I only took out 5 rupees with me, which really pissed them off. Maybe I was taking out four weeks of constant touting on them – but it was fun all the same!

Left Fataphur Sikri this morning & arrived back in Rajasthan at Bharatpur. I am sharing a decent room with this French guy I met on the way. It will be my last night here in India as I have to be back in Delhi by midnight tomorrow. To make things interesting I have decided to walk the 15 kilometers from the bus stand to the airport (I have plenty of time to kill). Which should be cool during daylight hours but god knows what it’ll be like at night.

Bharatpur
07/11/06

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