The Tart Of Agra (... cont.)
It was a five day run north to the border of Nepal. At the end of our first day we cycled into the confusion of Matura city.
Picking our way down a small, chaotic side street, we must have passed a perfume shop and the air was suddenly filled with a familiar fragrance. Bam! Déjà vu! What the heck was that scent? I was thrown back to another time, a parallel dimension. It took several moments to pin it down. Then it came to me… the scent reminded me of my mum! Ahh …
I chose a hotel listed in the photocopied guide book (idiot), down by the ghats on the banks of the wide, languid Yamuna River. The ‘Agra Hotel’ was an over-priced, gloomy dump. I couldn’t even get to our room for some time as it was guarded by a large, peed-off male monkey. I tried growling at it to scare it off, but it growled back and I ran away.
The city was famous for being the birthplace of Harre Krishna. To give you an idea of how much I know, it was new to me that Harre Krishna followers were Hindus. And apparently Hare Krishna was born 3,500 years ago. Id always thought Harry Krishna was a mate of Boy George.
We walked around, finding the place just a little odd, but not just a little disappointing. Another Indian city of noise and confusion.
Onward north, and a marked difference from before. The road was no longer a main highway. More, an ‘intermediate’ road, and the people were different. More reserved, more polite, more gentle. When we stopped we still drew a crowd, often of a hundred or more, making rest stops far from restful. But almost no idiots among them. The inane grins had been replaced with smiles once more.
Perhaps Id been a little hard on the Indians. The big highway between Jaipur and Agra, for unknown reasons, had spawned an unnatural number of delinquent muppets, and it was probably unfair of me to tarnish the whole of India by the impression that one part of the country had given me. India was redeeming herself.
Fortunately, the copied pages of the guidebook no longer covered this part of the country, so I threw the deceptive temptress away, and we were always able to find reasonable accommodation at modest sized towns.
There were few dramas. A bridge crossing over one wide river was blocked by a minor truck accident. We pushed our bikes across sandbanks as far as possible to where a couple of tiny barges were making a mint out of over-charging to ferry motorbikes – and two foreign cyclists – to the far bank.
As we drew closer to Nepal the road narrowed and the vegetation either side thickened, over-running the wide, arable panorama of before.
After crossing a hydroelectric dam, we found the modest immigration post of the Indian border guars and were quickly stamped out. It was done. We had survived! And not only that, but I can honestly say that I had actually enjoyed our two months cycling across India!
Now, THAT'S incredible!
END OF UPDATE