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    All These Colors Tour: India Part 39

    Monday, October 22, 2012
    Agra, India

    A locomotive at the Agra Cantonment train station in Agra, India.

    Luckily, I had set the alarm on my iPod touch the night before, because the Hotel Kamal never delivered my wake-up knock at 6:00 am. (Insomnia reared its ugly head again, so I only got maybe three hours of sleep!) A half hour later, I walked out front, where there’s always an autorickshaw hanging around, and rode one down to the Agra Cantonment train station. I noticed that the driver’s left eyelid was swollen up really bad. When I asked him what happened, he just said, “Cricket.” I really doubt if that happened from playing cricket, because it looked infected. Maybe a poisonous cricket unknown to science bit him in the eye. Whatever was wrong with it, I felt really bad for him.

    An overview of part of the Agra Cantonment train station in Agra, India.

    Inside the station, I looked up my train on a schedule posted on a huge signboard, then schlepped up and over to platform three via a pedestrian bridge that crosses the tracks. It was strange that all of the electronic boards in the station seemed to be on the fritz, displaying only two trains to Tamil Nadu and nothing else. Just to be safe, I kept an eye out on all of the platforms for around a half hour until finally, my train to Delhi showed up on platform two, eight minutes past the scheduled time of 7:30 am. I took my seat on a fan-only sleeper car, in a compartment with an Indian woman in her mid-20s and two men in their 30s who constantly looked at their cell phones.

    On the route to Delhi, we passed through numerous crumbling, tattered towns with trash scattered everywhere. Occasionally, in the distance, I saw people squatting down, doing their private business out in public. Once in a while, we sliced through some downright dowdy-looking hinterlands and a few rural farming areas that surprisingly appeared to contain low levels of litter. On the train, there were a couple of colorful characters who walked through once in a while chanting or singing hypnotically as they hawked their snacks or drinks. Unfortunately, I never did get any good footage of them. At one point, I heard the sound of some frenetic drumming and quickly stood up, only to catch a quick glance of some youngsters wailing away on various drums right beside the tracks. Again, it happened on the opposite side of the train, and was far too fleeting for me to catch on video.

    Passengers wait for a train at the Agra Cantonment train station in Agra, India.

    After three hours, as we finally began our approach into the greater Delhi area, we passed through some incredibly rustic encampments, shanty towns and slums. We pulled into the New Delhi train station right about on time, around 11:30 am as I donned my big backpack and messenger bag and slogged out into the onslaught of mid-day traffic. A few transport guys and touts hit me up, but not as many as I anticipated. Just a few blocks away, I walked into the lobby of the Hotel Krishna, a really swank place that got mostly good reviews on Trip Advisor.

    A typical Indian Railways non-air con sleeper car en route from Agra to Delhi, India.

    I managed to get a tiny walk-in closet-sized room for around $22 per night, which is not too bad for a mid-range hotel in India. Rooms here tend to cost considerably more across the board than their Southeast Asia counterparts. As always, I hit the hay right away and slept until the late afternoon, then went for a short, food-seeking stroll in the evening around the Paharganj district. The shops there were all stacked up with a crazy amount of colorful bags, clothing, food, etc. And, of course, the traffic was just as hectic as all of the other cities I’ve visited in India. I never did find the restaurant I was looking for, so I just ended up stuffing my face at the hotel’s rooftop cafe.

    Roll over photos for captions.
    Words and photos ©2012 Arcane Candy.

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