Sunday, 3 July 2011

A New Career

A 530 wakeup call this time, which is just preparation for tomorrow's one at 330am ... a few hours on the road before stopping for the worst of the Indian breakfasts I've had to endure (my insides are a shuddering mess) ... and its not just me, the same opinion was voiced by many of the AP crowd - I'm dreaming of foods without spices right now - I know i should be embracing the cuisine and I am for the most part but i can't do it 3 times a day ... i just can't ... the dark side of the efficiency of a tour is that you get shuttled everywhere ... sporadic freedoms to explore but generally you eat when they say you eat, you sleep when they say you sleep and you s**t whenever your body gives up trying to hold everything in.
An amazing Muslim temple in Agra - not one of the more conventional ones ... we had to take a rickshaw (of course) to take us to the top of the town through increasingly narrow streets until even they couldnt go any further - and we had to make the trek up ourselves (luckily, i acquired a banana to sooth my aching stomach on the way) - another one where we had to drop our shoes off and i bought a plate of flowers for donations - the interior had hundreds of people crammed in like sardines all struggling to get to the middle for their blessing (some of these rituals are so extreme that its enough to make one think of converting!) - i was hijacked by a family of Rajisthanis who were so thrilled to see a white guy - even though cameras were forbidden they took picture after picture of me (I can't count how many pictures people have taken of me on this trip) but eventually i had to excuse myself for our next stop - the town of Pooshka (I think... my Lonely Planet is still on my living room table in Stanmore) for our luncheon (another struggle), a not too pleasant place that was packed with even more insistent beggers than i've seen elsewhere - its heartbreaking to refuse them and the guides - we're told to just ignore them but the guides are considerably less tolerant of them than we are - i received a blessing at the lake and was promptly shaken up by the priest for a donation - some for the poor and some for him (I gave to the poor but not him although my companions have suggested that the priests are just as corrupt as the police in many of these areas).
The AP crowd have started to become a lot more talkative by now, its been a few days i suppose - a lot of them it seems just speak Telegu and some are more fluent in English than they are in Hindi so they are in a worse position than i am when it comes to the guidance - their questions have even veered off from the location of my wife (who i still haven't found) - the teenagers are definitely the most fluent and the easiest to talk to - all are quite shocked that i don't own a car and I use a bicycle for transport - the fact that i have six confuses them even more.
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Took a quick rickshaw into town in order to avoid the hotel restaurant - as per any rickshaw driver taking a white man anywhere i was offered the chance to hire Rahul for the next day for the low, low price of 400 rupees and was told he had many tours he could give me (every path which i can guarantee would take me to a handicrafts store) - the driver asked me if i drove - i explained that i had a licence but didnt own a car - he shook his head as i'd misunderstood him - do i drive a rickshaw? Hmm, not really. Well, actually, really I do it turns out.
He insisted i get in the front with him and after a 5 second lesson of how the gears work (which I'm not sure i really understand yet) I was driving through ridiculous Jaipur traffic - trying to weave through cars, rickshaws (motorised and pedal powered), pedestrians, buses (!!!!) and trucks - as the traffic lights approached i found that the brake lever didn't work the way I thought it was supposed to but somehow geared down and came to a halt - tried to beg off to the backseat but was refused and had to continue until we found ourselves in (shock horror, a handicraft zone) - eventually Rahul took the reins back but THAT could well be the experience to define this trip.

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